Founded in 1907, Atlanta-based UPS delivers a whopping 4.9 billion packages to more than 220 countries and territories every year. With 440,000 employees, UPS has four regional offices in Atlanta, Miami, Singapore and Brussels. The Brussels office, also known as UPS Europe, is where logistics on the European continent are managed. UPS Europe is branded with the ‘package brown’ tone on the building façade and located near Brussels Airport. On Thursday, November 28, a handful of young professionals gathered there to meet with UPS Belgium’s Managing Director, Fernando Falcon.
Fernando started out at UPS two decades ago as a Financial Analyst. His passion for numbers and his focus on analytical strengths led him on the path to success. He moved from Financial Analyst to Controller at the UPS offices in Spain, and eventually made the move to Brussels as Financial Director before taking helm as Managing Director this past September. Happy to move to the ‘heart of Europe,’ Fernando spoke highly of the international atmosphere and the work-life balance in Belgium. He emphasized this last point and supports the theory that a good work-life balance increases productivity in the workplace.
No Labels Approach
Fernando opened the luncheon with an air of nostalgia as he recounted his days spent as a 19-year-old Erasmus student in Denmark. He had joined the study abroad program to improve his English, but discovered a much more valuable lesson: avoid labels. As a student from southeastern Spain, Fernando said he held a stereotype that Danes are cold. After moving to Denmark, he found them to be some of the most open and welcoming people he had ever met, even more so than his Spanish peers. Ever since, he has avoided labels and stereotypes, and he advised the young professionals around the room to do the same.
Master the Things You Do Well, And Never Stop Learning
Throughout the meeting, Fernando repeated the point that people often forget to focus on their strengths and draw unnecessary attention to their weaknesses. He emphasized to the young talent seated around him that ‘you cannot master everything, but you can master the things you do well.’ Fernando referenced a common development exercise known as the Strengths Finder Test as he held up his ID badge. Enameled on the backside of his UPS ID card were the results of his test, a daily reminder to ‘master the things you do well.’
However, he also said that young professionals should keep an open mind about their career path and not limit themselves. If there is a three-month rotation in a different area of your company or you can participate in a project outside of your comfort zone, you should do it, keep an open mind about the experience and never stop learning. And if it doesn’t work out, it was only one project or three months, and a great learning experience either way.
As a leading global player in the transport & logistics industry, UPS draws a lot of demand from millennials who naturally migrate to online delivery channels. It was therefore more relevant than ever for AmCham Belgium to team up with UPS to foster a discussion between young professionals and Fernando. By the end of the lunch, it was clear that Fernando followed his path to success with an open and focused mind, by avoiding labels and mastering strengths.