Getting goods from factory to shop shelves

The logistics and supply chain sector, nurtured by the Economic Development Board, is a key contributor to Singapore’s economy. It offers a rich variety of career prospects, too. Arti Mulchand profiles some of the people working in the sector. 

While based at the DHL Supply Chain's (DSC) Hong Kong office on Tsing Yi island earlier this year, Christopher Lo saw the future of logistics for land-scarce countries in a 25-storey warehouse. 

Like Singapore, space in Hong Kong is expensive, so the building makes up in height what it lacks in width. Careful planning goes into ensuring that the many trucks that negotiate its floors to drop off or pick up items can do so easily.

"One imagines warehouses to be vast rectangular spaces. But when you have tight spaces, they have to be designed so that trucks don't end up having to play a game of Tetris," explains the 27- year-old solutions analyst.

While DSC is the world's leading contract logistics provider, most of his friends assume that he works with DHL's better-known courier arm, DHL Express.

"Many people don't realise that DHL has a supply chain business, and also does freight operations and international postal solutions," he says. He himself knew little about DSC when he enrolled with the Singapore Management University to study business management in 2008.

He had hoped for a future in finance, but a volunteer stint with the company in his first year opened his eyes to the industry.

"There was so much more to logistics and supply chain management. It wasn't just about moving goods, but transport optimisation and network planning," he says.

He then made operations management his second major.

In his final year, he applied to join DHL's new Economic Development Board-supported Supply Chain Solutions APAC Graduate Programme.

Hong Kong was the final leg of the two-year, three-phase programme, which also included an eight-month stint doing warehousing operations in Changi for a technology client.

He has since joined DSC's Singapore-based regional team, training members of DSC's solutions design community and offering logistics consultation services.

Mr Lo says what he loves most about working at DSC is that the company is an essential part of everyday life. "Whether it is groceries or the high-tech toys we love, we provide the supply chain for these goods to be on the shelf when you need them."

This article was first published on Oct 13, 2014

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