DHL: Promoting Diversity and Helping SMEs
Andra Ligi, director of sales and marketing at DHL Express Hungary.
Estonian expat Andra Ligi, DHL Express Hungary’s director of sales and marketing, talks to the Budapest Business Journal about her experiences in the country, the logistics company’s growth in the past few years, its zero-emissions targets, and what it is doing to help small companies and promote equality and diversity.
BBJ: You joined DHL Express Hungary in 2018. As an expat manager, how do you like the country? Why did you decide to continue your career in Hungary after spending eight years as the director of sales and marketing in Estonia?
Andra Ligi: Living in Hungary as a foreigner has been quite a journey, with its ups and downs. I fell in love with Budapest almost immediately, as it has the most spectacular setting I’ve ever seen. The city has so many opportunities to visit that one almost cannot choose where to go. The country has many spectacular sites and options to get away from the city as well.
I’ve been working for DHL Expressfor 22 years. My decision to movefrom a relatively small country like Estonia to a larger country was driven mainly by my wish to explore a new and different culture. And also to gain experience and learn, both professionally and individually.
BBJ: What do you consider the company’s most significant achievement over the last four years?
AL: It is really hard to pick just one, but personally, I think our biggest achievement is that during the pandemic, DHL Express Hungary could still grow and create new jobs, despite the setback to the industry and the economic difficulties. Also, it currently provides a secure livelihood for around 400 people and their families in Budapest and its logistics centers across the country. Our strength is in our team, and we invest a lot in training to develop the skills of our colleagues, as they are our number one priority.
BBJ: Currently, DHL Express Hungary has more female senior managers than men, which is a rarity in Hungary. How does the company promote gender equality in the workplace?
AL: Our senior management team is actually balanced at 50% female and 50% male here in Hungary, but back in Estonia, I used to work with a 100% female management team. Diversity is one of the most critical focus areas of DHL globally. Our aim is to create a sense of belonging among our people by strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe that people who feel accepted and valued are more engaged and more motivated. We also participate in the “Great Place to Work” and “TOP Employer” programs. DHL Express has a unique variety of different talent and leadership development programs available, including unique platforms for female employees.
DHL Express’ Budapest headquarters is now powered by 100% green energy.
BBJ: DHL was the first logistics company to commit to a zero-emissions target. What is the company doing in Hungary to achieve this target?
AL: From this year on, our Budapest headquarters is powered by 100% green energy. We are also making significant investments in our other existing properties to operate our infrastructure with electricity from entirely renewable sources. In Budapest, we already deliver parcels with 20 e-vans and in the downtown area use three e-cargo bikes. Our GoGreen service offers our customers the possibility to choose this option and offset their CO2 emissions. We are making significant efforts to ensure that more of our customers take advantage of it. We would like to achieve that more than 50% of our sales have green solutions while 80% of our staff are GoGreen experts in the upcoming years.
DHL Express’ global goal is to transform its fleet to at least 60% fully electric by 2030 and to achieve zero emissions and carbon neutrality by 2050. Globally, we have a sustainability roadmap that contains a EUR 7 billion investment in climate-neutral logistics by 2030; 80,000 e-vehicles shall be deployed for last-mile deliveries, resulting in 60% electrification of the fleet.
BBJ: How does the company help the export activities of SMEs in Hungary?
AL: We at DHL Express think that the best way to help domestic SMEs is by educating them about the possibilities of international expansion. We have become key members of the Ecommerce Hungary Association and the Digital Commerce Alliance (DKSZ), working with partners who can provide significant knowledge, intelligence, and advice for Hungarian e-commerce businesses.
Besides education, we have options like our “Power Up Your Potential” program, developed for our e-commerce clients, which helps companies achieve more export business. With this, we can help our partners improve their websites and reach more potential customers. We see that the method of delivery is of crucial importance for our customers; that at least one express delivery option is a must; and that transparency, speed and flexibility are vital to servicing customers’ needs. Our focus is to help every business regardless of size, as we ship to 220 countries and territories. We are constantly improving our services and making investments to continue to be able to suit customer needs.
BBJ: Compared to 2019, DHL Express revenue increased by more than 10% globally in 2020, and from 2020 to 2021, the figure was more than 20%. Considering that growth in Hungary was even higher, what are DHL Express Hungary’s revenue expectations for 2022?
AL: Given the changes in the energy and regulatory environment, which, of course, also affect the operations of DHL Express and our partners, it is difficult to give an estimate of our projected results for this year. The global forecast shows that the global revenues of the e-commerce segment could reach USD 5.4 billion.
After spells as a customer service representative, travel consultant and hotel receptionist, Andra Ligi joined DHL Express Estonia AS as a customer service agent in April 2000. After gaining experience as a telesales and then a field sales executive based in Tallinn, she was promoted to key account manager in 2006 and then sales and marketing director in 2010. Eight years later, she moved from Tallinn to Budapest.
This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of July 29, 2022.
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