Over a Coffee… Franco Azzopardi Chairman and CEO Express Trailers
“People are the main drivers of our business. Equipment and space are investments that anyone can do. But attracting, training, and retaining the best people is a culture,” says FRANCO AZZOPARDI, Chairman and CEO of Express Trailers as he discusses the company’s latest HR project – the setting up of the Express Trailers Training Academy.
CD: What inspired the setting up of this training academy?
FA: The Express Trailers Training Academy was set up with the specific aim of providing Express Trailers’ employees with ongoing training based on a structured and long-term plan. The intention is driven by the way we do things at Express Trailers because we do not just hire people, but we provide them with ample opportunities for career progression based on transmitted experience and knowledge aimed at heightening their capabilities and experience. Indeed, we do not just employ people – we train them to become experts in logistics.
CD: Why is this important for the company?
FA: The transport and logistics sectors are very dynamic ones which are constantly evolving. To be able to retain our expertise, our people need to remain abreast with the latest developments. In fact, through this Academy, we will be training our people in the art of logistics, be it on the road, at customer level, in operations, planning, administration and management.
CD: You have always acknowledged the importance for companies to harness their wealth of knowledge. Is this initiative meant in the same manner?
FA: Harnessing this knowledge and passing it on is part of good succession planning that every company needs to be looking at. Key experts in companies are always very busy and no one knows what would happen if one day, these key people decide to leave. The Express Trailers Training Academy is part of our long-term plan on making sure this knowledge keeps being passed on to the respective teams to ensure business continuity. In fact, besides the specialised training courses delivered by accredited bodies and online courses which the employees may follow in their own time and at their own pace, we will also be involving our mature employees, heads of departments, managers and even retirees.
CD: To what extent will you train employees who could one day leave your company and join competition?
FA: We do not see the return on investment in monetary terms but more as a barometric reading of employee satisfaction. We only look ahead of the game. Perhaps others will follow. Yes, there are employers who are afraid of investing in their employees because these might eventually move to competition. We think differently and expect any over-spill of people trained by us moving into the industry to transmit a contagion of good practice. There is absolutely nothing wrong there. Ultimately, I know that an initiative like this will not only help us develop our current workforce but also building the next generation of employees.
CD: What’s in it for your customers?
FA: From our customers’ perspective, they will know that they are working with a company whose workforce is being trained in speaking the same language and working in the same style using the same high-tech systems and equipment, is mindful of ethics, health and safety and manners.
CD: What feedback are you envisaging from your people with regards to this initiative?
FA: We are very positive that our people will embrace this initiative and will help them in their self-development path. Personally, I also look at this as a differentiator that strengthens Express Trailers’ reputation as a good employer who is constantly seeking to not only hire but train its people into becoming logistics experts. The obvious question one tends to ask in the end is what kind of return one could expect from this investment and how does this initiative fit into the company’s long-term strategy.
CD: What legacy do you want this training academy to leave?
FA: Our aim has always been to be a positive experience and a strong currency on the curriculum vitae of our people, even if they ever decide to move on to other jobs. Ultimately, as leaders in the industry, we also believe it is in our interest to see the industry grow not only in terms of numbers but more holistically especially in the quality of service it offers.