Singapore, 4 August: As the educational arm of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), we understand that between the ever-evolving international trade landscape, increasing digitalisation and continuously changing business practices, a new sense of urgency has arose for companies of all sizes to upskill their workforce. We sat down with Julian Poonen, one of our Export/Import Certificate (EIC) graduates from DB Schenker, to know more about his learning journey and career path.
In 2018, the ICC Academy signed a partnership with the German logistics leader, DB Schenker, to help the company boost competencies at an individual level and strengthen the industry at large.
Commenting on the need to upskill, ICC Academy General Manager Daniel Kok said: “Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, we have noticed an increased uptake of our EIC programme – a best seller now in terms of year-on-year performance. Aligning with ICC’s mission to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere, we are helping individuals and companies navigate the complex world of international trade – especially during these challenging times.”
To optimise performance at the newly built facility in South Africa, DB Schenker Logistics staff members received in-depth, practical knowledge on export and import transactions, as well as gained expertise on how to best manage international business through the ICC Academy’s EIC programme.
Two years down the line, after a year of learning and another of applying the acquired knowledge to the day to day job, we are taking the opportunity to speak with Mr Poonen, who works as a Supervisor at the Port Division of DB Schenker.
ICC Academy: Tell us about yourself, Mr Poonen, and how were you introduced to our EIC programme?
Mr Poonen: I had a humble beginning, working for two medium-sized freight forwarding companies before getting the chance to work as a supervisor at DB Schenker. Being an industry leader in logistics, DB Schenker heavily invests in training, ensuring staff members gain a competitive edge in the marketplace and adapt to the changing requirements of its stakeholders. With an intention to upskill staff in international trade and from the very best, I was contacted by our HR department and offered the opportunity to take up the ICC Academy’s online training on Export/Import. For this, I am obviously very grateful to DB Schenker.
ICC Academy: Can you talk us through your learning experience? How has the programme helped you understand the cross-border trade landscape, a must-know while working in a logistics firm?
Mr Poonen: When it comes to learning, we all want to learn from a credible and reliable source – and who other than ICC can offer a better training in cross-border trade? This made the EIC a clear choice!
The programme provided me with a complete overview and in-depth understanding of international trade processes and their related risks to compete in foreign markets. The five e-courses – International Trade Overview, Business Transactions and Contracts, Financing and Security Devices, International Logistics and Sourcing and Global Business Management – covered the essential skills required to effectively trade worldwide and manage an international business, from negotiating contracts to resolving cross-border disputes.
Prior to the training, I had a superficial understanding of how things work in international trade. In freight forwarding, it’s just about pick-up, collection and customs on each side, or rather the mode of transport like how cargo moves from point A to point B.
Thanks to the EIC, I can now visualise the ‘end-to-end picture’ of cross-border trade – the buyer’s role when he or she starts the process; the supplier’s side of the story; the documents involved; the available payment terms; the transaction process; and more.
Not only that, my confidence and credibility among colleagues and clients has increased three-fold. So be it a quotation from a client, which I now have a better understanding of, or interaction with colleagues in regards to a document or a transaction, my conversations have now become more solution-oriented.
ICC Academy: If we ask you to choose the best part of the EIC, what would it be?
Mr Poonen: For me, two things stood out distinctively within the programme. One is the use of real-life case studies, which provided examples from popular brands like McDonalds and Pampers and made the lessons more interesting and relatable.
The other thing would be the tailored digital platform, which made my learning experience easy and engaging. The menu and navigation system were clear and defined; the animated videos with voice overs and transcripts for understanding the concepts; the fact that I had the ability to personalise the dashboard was helpful; and the clear markers and badges to track my progress, all of these helped me in my learning journey. Also, the combination of text, videos and quizzes made each e-course interesting and easy to understand.
ICC Academy: What challenges did you face during the programme? What kept you motivated?
Mr Poonen: The main challenge that I and my colleagues faced was not being able to print out the lesson worksheets and notes. Due to Wi-Fi issues in South Africa, we are not always connected to the internet and that was one of the main downsides for us.
That said, the learning itself was very interesting and engaging and we knew the benefits of completing the EIC programme. In spite of the challenges, we kept going and obtained a certificate from ICC, which kept us motivated.
ICC Academy: Do you think our certification will help boost your career prospects?
Mr Poonen: Absolutely! Until I completed the programme, I really had no career roadmap. But now that I have an ICC certification under my belt, along with work experience from a leading logistics firm, my aim is to become an air freight manager, and my long-term goal is to be a logistics consultant.
Responding to an ICC Academy survey conducted in 2019, 88% of EIC programme participants said the certification helped them to bridge their knowledge gap.
To learn more or register for the Export/Import Certificate, please visit the programme page.
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