By: Jervis Ching, Director of Operational Excellence and Implementation, Graebel, APAC Center
Nearly a decade ago, Graebel began relocating significantly more people and families to and from APAC (Asia Pacific) countries. Organisations were embracing globalisation and we wanted to support that growth with a regional headquarters office in Singapore, offering a tri-regional mobility model.
I was Graebel’s first employee in the Singapore office, hired after I responded to their job posting for a customer service professional in the region. Little did I know I was beginning a career journey within an incredible industry, with a company that truly functions from top to bottom, east to west, in the spirit of Truth, Love and Integrity.
Truth: Relocation Management – A New Adventure
Before I joined Graebel, I was not too familiar with relocation management companies (RMCs) or the mobility industry. (I had a history of delighting customers in the hospitality industry.) So, it is no surprise that, even today, I have to explain to friends and family what is involved with managing a relocation experience. We work in a very unique business that is complex and rewarding at the same time.
As we began to expand our presence, no one from our world headquarters in Denver or other regional locations (Prague, for example) came in and tried to superimpose a foreign style of operations. There was transparent truth and I was given the flexibility to mould the operation to what worked locally, from space planning to hiring to employee relations. This approach was welcomed and helped me become open to the idea of what love in the workplace really is.
Love: A Different Work Model
People worldwide are certainly familiar with the personal virtues of Truth, Love and Integrity. But making these the basis of a company’s value proposition and culture was a bit unheard of within the APAC business community. Others in the region are catching on now, I am glad to say.
I saw a recent study in Inc. Magazine that showed how company culture is more important to performance than an organisation’s strategy or operating model. It went on to say, though, that all three had to be aligned – culture alone is not enough to trigger success. I think Graebel is probably ahead of the curve within our industry in the way our culture is intertwined with our strategy and operations.
I carry that model with me as I advanced at Graebel, taking on new supplier development roles and then leading our freight forwarding team in Prague. I specifically tried to manifest love with my colleagues and the teams I led by creating safe places for people to grow through experience. Graebel management then returned the favour by moving me to a brand-new area: operational excellence and implementation services! My own questions and learning curves were accepted with love and understanding.
Over the last decade, we have expanded our space in Singapore and established a new office in Shanghai. Our APAC team now stands at nearly 50 people, but I am proud to say we have kept our values-driven guiding star.
For two of the three years it has been awarded, our Singapore team has won the companywide Graebel Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) award in recognition of our team projects that help keep us mindful of our values every day. Our localised culture of love includes volunteering, celebrating, team building, and other events we sponsor just for fun! These are important because they honour and support our local culture and enhance the camaraderie that helps us work as a team to support our clients and their employees.
Love is Employee Empowerment
To take it a step further, in my opinion, Truth, Love and Integrity are manifested at Graebel as employee empowerment. When it comes to customer service and our internal processes and systems, we are empowered to think creatively and explore better alternatives.
We are not only empowered but we are encouraged to make things incredible for our clients and their employees by going the extra mile. In a recent global town hall led by our Chairman & CEO Bill Graebel, he challenged us to elevate our already high-standard customer service goal to the next level on satisfaction scores. You cannot do that by mandates and strict oversight – it comes when every employee is empowered to deliver exceptional experiences.
Integrity: Organic Growth in APAC
Schools don’t offer courses in Relocation Management or Workforce Mobility. One of our best avenues for securing the right talent and helping people grow their careers is by recruiting a diverse mix of people. Of our recent new hires, one has a major in child psychology and another is an accounting major. Neither had experience in our industry. But what they do have is a passion to serve. They are humble, hungry and smart – traits that were very evident throughout the interview process and in their past work experience. I saw bright, hardworking people that would mesh with Graebel’s values.
Throughout my journey at Graebel I’ve learned that when driven by Truth, Love and Integrity, work success and personal fulfilment are sure to follow.