5 minutes with …

Chris Fahy, Former CEO of DHL, Founder and Director of logistics consultancy, KTF Stone.

Chris is a racehorse owner, fitness fanatic and graduate of The Wharton Business School, the University of Pennsylvania that knows a thing or two about logistics, read on to understand that understatement.

Chris Fahy at The Jockey Club

What is your most recent position and what are you responsible for?

Founder and Director of logistics consultancy, KTF Stone, empowering private equity and venture capital companies with investments in logistics.

What’s the best job you’ve had and why? 

This would have to be my tenure as CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, which was in my eyes the best job in the world! My role involved driving the business of the number one organisation in its industry and leading 30,000 employees.

What’s your biggest career achievement and how did you do it?

Heading up a project to acquire, and then merge, the first and third largest logistics companies in the world. We then integrated these two giants into a slick operation that grossed 11 billion pounds a year within 8 months. This has not been replicated since, in any sector, to my knowledge. It was a world first and last to have completed and operationally rolled out a merger of this size and complexity. I’m very proud of this!

What advice would you give to yourself in your earlier career?

Listen more, if I had done so I would have reached certain millstones quicker. I was driven by passion and was very forthright at times, however listening more to customers, the marketplace and peers would have made more sense than finding out the hard way.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

A legend and great source of knowledge and mentor of mine was one of the former CEOs of Deutsche Post, he was an influential figure in the German economy at the time. Upon my appointment as CEO of DHL Global, I asked him: “What do you expect of me? He said: “We all know you’re incredibly smart Chris and proven to be successful in your career thus far, however,  sometimes it’s important not to display how clever you are. Let people promote their own ideas, let them speak and grow much like you have, this will help you build the best team with great executives around that can express themselves.” Fantastic advice from a fantastic man.

When you hire talent, what do you look for in people?

I studied at the Wharton Business school of the University of Pennsylvania. It’s quite rightly regarded as one of the best business schools in the world, here I learnt a lot about talent and people which I used to great effect in my working life.

I like people who are ambitious and want to progress. My logic is to pay the best salaries and offer the best bonus structure to those that are genuinely willing to work hard. They must want to progress and have that drive within them and their character. These traits and great opportunities presented by an employer equal outstanding performance in my opinion.

New hires also have to be team players. I’m not a big fan of people who feel they should earn more money than others for no obvious reason or are too self obsessed. These individuals can have a negative impact on a business culture and upset the apple cart. I can spot in the first minute of an interview if I am dealing with either character.

Do you invest time in self-learning, or mentoring?

Yes and yes! I love to educate myself to facilitate the visions and ideas of the future. If you can see a market changing or a trend in technology, I believe you should and need to equip yourself with the knowledge to be part of the change.

I’m huge on mentoring and will help anyone who wants to further their careers or improve their personal lives, I see potential and growth everywhere and I love giving back.

What is the most important skill you think a person should invest in?

Being a strong communicator is an important skill in lots of aspects in life. In a digital age where communication skills coupled with leadership make you stand out from the crowd, I’d also add that thinking outside the box and challenging ways of thinking in an original way allows for greater creativity.  This has always set me aside from the crowd. I’ve almost been protective of the way I think, to the point where for many years I didn’t have social media or share too much other than on LinkedIn, so competitors couldn’t get inside my thinking or mindset or understand me too much. Now that’s a different story from most, on its own merits.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt about work?

Work under highly successful, trustful leaders. Learn from the best. They will take you with them learn everything you can and then put your own initiative to these learnings

What do you think are the three most important skills for your type of role in the current market?

Be a leader that can demonstrate a vision and where you are taking people, then people will follow.

Be adaptable, receptive and listen.

Have faith and trust in your ability.

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