WHILE examining an outbound shipment one day, Mr Daniel Goh, a team leader at the east service centre of DHL Express Singapore in Tai Seng, sensed something was amiss.

The magazine that the customer had requested to ship overseas looked thicker than normal. His suspicions aroused, Mr Goh requested to inspect the pages, and found a $10 note adhered to every page. As currency and jewellery are prohibited items in a courier package, the shipment was rejected.

Inspecting shipments and keeping track of their movements are part and parcel of Mr Goh's job at the service centre, where he oversees a team of couriers and the delivery of thousands of shipments daily.

Says the 30-year-old: "My job also entails planning the couriers' daily routes and assignments. Often, I need to help them re-schedule or prioritise deliveries so that we meet all customers' requests. I'm also there to guide them whenever they encounter difficulties."

Having been with DHL since 2000, Mr Goh is familiar with the workflow in the logistics company. He started his career as a courier and was only 24 when he was promoted to his current post two years later.

All in a day's work

As a team leader, he oversees a team of more than 10 couriers, and sometimes up to four teams, which adds up to more than 50 couriers.

He works four rotating shifts, with the first shift starting at 7.30am and the last shift ending at 11.30pm.

He says: "The first shift is the most important shift as it is then that the inbound shipments from the DHL hub at the airport are dispatched to the service centre before they are delivered to the respective destinations."

At the same time, he plans the couriers' routes according to the manpower and the daily average of 100 delivery orders. He also looks out for special instructions where, for example, a customer may ask for an urgent shipment to be delivered or picked up first thing in the morning.

While the couriers are out making their rounds, Mr Goh tracks their progress via information transmitted from their scanners and inputs the data into an in-house performance report.

When he notices that a delivery has not been made by the scheduled time, he calls the courier to check on the progress.

Twice or thrice a week, he joins the couriers in making deliveries for half a day when manpower is down or in the event of an urgent shipment. He drives out in his van to make 10 to 15 deliveries to 10 to 12 locations in areas like Ubi, Orchard and Bukit Timah.

"This is a far cry from my days as a courier when I used to hit 40 to 50 locations in a busy day," he recalls, adding that the regular interaction with customers in those days has helped him overcome his fear of speaking with strangers.

"I like the non-deskbound nature of my job and that I am always on the run. I thrive on the fast pace, and that I never know what my day is going to be like or who I will meet.

"This is indeed a demanding job as we have a deadline to meet for every customer. Being fast and reliable are the two things that are very important to being a DHL courier. You need to be fast on your feet and quick to react to unforeseen situations."

Building bonds

Building rapport with his team-mates, whose ages range from the 20s to the 50s, is also a priority for him.

He says: "My team members, who are in their 50s, have been with DHL for ages and have so much to offer in terms of experience. Working with them daily is an eye-opener.

"Overall, my job also involves mentoring to a certain extent. I listen to them and help them overcome any work or personal challenges they may face. It is important that they know I'm there for them, as we need to work as a team to meet our deadlines. At the end of the day, the satisfaction comes from knowing that my customers are satisfied with our service."