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The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: John Pearson

John Pearson CEO DHL Express

What have been some of the key learnings for you since the UK fully re-opened over the summer? 

That people and businesses want to do what they do best – trade, sell, buy, fix, and satisfy their own customers. Globalisation and global trade are very resilient and I see evidence every day of people getting their revenue lines moving again. I simply don’t believe in the phrase ‘’the new normal”. The old normal is returning pretty quickly in my opinion, with of course some important learnings.

As we move forward from the pandemic and look to the future, what business opportunity most excites you?

Two things, the first is delivering quality. This is what brings the most opportunities, whether it’s frontline customer service, transit time or reliability. These are the things that make people choose DHL in 220 countries. The second thing is being out in front of our people. Having just completed many country reviews and facility visits in the Middle East, and opened a new Hub in Paris, I can definitely say this is the big thing I look forward to.

Given the important part that technology has played in all sectors during the pandemic, how do you envisage technology developing in your organisation going forward?

Digitalisation is not a new concept. But the advancement of technology means we have a keener eye on all sorts of different opportunities that drive operational efficiency, employee engagement or customer satisfaction.

With sustainability and ESG being more prevalent on the Board agenda, what is your business doing to meet net zero carbon emission targets by 2050, if not earlier?

As an organisation we are running pretty fast on this. We are investing €7bn by 2030 to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (to under 29 million tons by 2030 – from 33 million tons in 2020) and we recently announced the purchase of 12 fully electric eCargo planes.

How has your business changed in its approach to employee wellbeing during the pandemic and what will it continue to do more of in the future?

We always had this on our priority list, and as we say in DHL: “You can’t be a great place to work if you are not a safe place to work.” Safety is our #1 priority and more people getting home safely to their families at the end of a day or night shift, is a key KPI.

Who or what has inspired you recently? (They don’t need to be famous)

The ability and willingness of our people to work “As One” and stay connected. We are far more connected as an organisation than we were even two years ago.

Hopefully you managed to have break over the summer, either abroad or a ‘stay cation’ – what was the highlight?  

Yes, we were in Deia, Majorca and Salcombe, Devon. Both were equally great and any day spent with family and friends is a day that can’t be taken away from you. Despite all the preparation and paperwork about travelling, I would say that Spanish immigration were knowledgeable, polite and helpful and a credit to their plans to restart tourism.  

Which book have you read recently and why would you recommend it?

The book by my old boss and colleague at DPDHL Group – Ken Allen. It’s called Radical Simplicity.

What are you most looking forward to doing in 2022?

Being out there in front of our people. I recently read an article by a global multinational saying people should travel for purpose, not presence. In a global company, I believe our presence is our purpose, and thanking and acknowledging our employees’ great contribution is a core part of our job.

Any words of wisdom?

If you put your people at the centre of everything you do, they will get you through any crisis. Oh and of course… “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.