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Chitra Shinde

Chitra Shinde: Leading DHL Express NZ with Passion for Sustainability and Customer Value

Meet Chitra Shinde, the Vice President of Operations at DHL Express New Zealand, who has been with the company for an impressive tenure of 24 years. Chitra’s dedication and commitment to learning have played a pivotal role in her rise to her current position. With a passion for continuous improvement and sustainability, Chitra has been focusing on creating long-term value for customers while navigating times of change with her team.

In this exclusive interview, Chitra shares her insights on leadership, growth, and creating a positive impact on the environment.

Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.

DHL Express is a division of Deutsche Post DHL Group, a German headquartered multinational, multi-divisional EUR 95 billion company (2022 Full year). Our vision is to be the logistics company for the world. Our purpose is to connect people and improve lives.

DHL Express has facilitated trade since 1969 and is present in 220 countries and territories worldwide. We started by flying shipping documents, followed by time sensitive documents. We then introduced our worldwide parcel express service (WPX), which enabled our customers to send samples and urgent shipments around the world in 2–3 days through onboard couriers.

All of these are achieved through a balanced approach to our three bottom lines, which are Employer of Choice, Provider of Choice, and Investment of Choice. At DHL Express, we focus on motivating our people, who will deliver great service quality that keeps our customers loyal and, in turn, creates a profitable and sustainable company. We care deeply about the environment, social responsibility, and good governance. We are insanely customer centric.

Enlighten us on the impact of your work through your expertise in the market.

DHL Express is an international express door-to-door package delivery service. We help both large and small companies expand their markets globally. In New Zealand, we enjoy a leadership position with 76% market share, connecting New Zealand to Australia as well as the rest of the world through our dedicated aircraft.

During the pandemic, we lost nearly all commercial air capacity in the market; however, we were able to utilize our own network to divert, re-route, add capacity, and provide business continuity to our customers to avoid disruption to their businesses. We are a global company that is very local and, hence, empowered to make decisions locally and swiftly.

Over the next five years, we expect to continue investments in infrastructure, green vehicles, and people. Our

investment decisions are driven by long term confidence in growth. Since we have a diversified portfolio of industries, markets, and divisions, we are better placed to withstand fluctuations. We can leverage the strengths of our partner networks and sister divisions to build capacity at short notice or retract when no longer required.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

Our team takes immense pride in being the Number 1 Great Place to Work. We achieved this through constant focus and passion for our people. Our values are to deliver great results through respect-focused behaviours, and we train all our front-line supervisors and managers on these values. Being results-oriented inspires strategies and creates achievable goals. This can be done through teamwork and leveraging our own strengths and those of our colleagues, the DHL network, service partners and providers.

We focus on quality, as that is what our customers will experience. To create an environment where quality thrives, it is critical to listen to and respond to our people and our customers. This, in turn, drives growth.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

DPDHL Group’s focus strategy is powered by digitalization. We encourage both central and bottom-up development of solutions through campfires and the sharing of successful digitalization solutions across markets and divisions.

The intention is to improve our people’s and customers’ experiences. Being digital has resulted in a complete turnaround in how we approach technology in a digital world. We actively seek feedback on our processes and applications, as well as continually upgrade their features and capability.

What change would you like to bring to the Supply Chain Industry if given a chance?

The supply chain industry has come a long way. It is still treated as an expenditure instead of a value-creating opportunity to deliver competitive advantage. I would like to see supply chain business leaders sit at the decision-making table. Many companies keep this important function in another department. I believe that more focus should be placed on how and when the product gets there.

I believe that better recycling and waste reduction in supply chains are vital, as they directly contribute to CO2 emissions. Cost reduction pressures are often expected from improvements made in supply chain costs.

One way that this could be achieved is through the scaling up of green reverse logistics. I would like to see collaboration across the entire supply chain between suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and transportation providers to reduce environmental waste.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the IT sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

We believe that technology is an enabler of efficiency and experience. We expect to see more automation, robotics, and AI usage in roles that were traditionally done by humans. There are some processes that will still need to be performed by humans due to their size, scale, or inherent variation that may make them unsuitable for automation.

By automating repetitive and replaceable tasks, our employees will have a better work experience as they become more productive with their skills put to better use.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for DHL Express?

As a company, we want to digitalize our organization so that we can provide the best service to our customers while remaining the best workplace. We also want to attract and retain the best talents while maintaining a strong “safety first” culture. Additionally, we want to ensure that we have a diverse and inclusive workplace.

If we get the basics right, we will continue to grow and deliver sustainable bottom-line results that create value for our shareholders and our customers.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Supply Chain sector?

Events such as the recent pandemic, global political tensions, and natural disasters have exposed the fragility of global supply chains.

The industry is growing, becoming increasingly digitalised and will always be around to facilitate global and local trade. It can be the start of an exciting and rewarding career.