This content is part of JA Europe‘s Knowledge Network on New Europe
FedEx has provided a decade of support to JA Europe. We caught up with David Binks, President of FedEx Express in Europe and CEO of TNT, to ask him about FedEx support of global entrepreneurship and the ethos behind the FedEx Access Award – created to incorporate the idea of “access” into young people’s core thinking.
Junior Achievement as a global organization has long enjoyed the support of FedEx. Tell us a little how the relationship between FedEx and JA Europe began and why supporting entrepreneurial education is a good match for FedEx?
As a global logistics business founded and grown on innovation and entrepreneurship, FedEx continues to connect people around the world with new possibilities. We recognize that part of being a responsible corporate citizen involves using our expertise, capabilities and business knowledge to give back to the communities in which we live and work.
One of the focus areas we’ve long been committed to, is encouraging global entrepreneurship. Our relationship with Junior Achievement stems from our desire to actively support entrepreneurship globally that we know connects people and possibilities around the world.
In 1997, when FedEx already had a long relationship with JA in the US, we learned of the European Company of the Year Competition taking place in Berlin. We decided to sponsor a welcome event in Berlin and went along to see firsthand what sounded like a fantastic program designed to inspire and develop the next generation of young entrepreneurs. We were so impressed and amazed by the world class nature of the competition that we signed on as a sponsor for the following year in Europe, and that kick-started what is now a global relationship with JA Worldwide.
We now sponsor the Company Program and Company of the Year Competition in six regions, with this year marking the tenth year that FedEx has sponsored the competition in Europe.
As a recently appointed board member of JA Europe, you recently joined us for the Company of the Year competition in Brussels. What were your expectations and ultimate experience of the competition?
The level of competition at the European final, and also the innovative ideas and the knowledge these young people have brought to the competition has been quite awe-inspiring. These students have won the Company of the Year competition in their home countries, and in some cases, FedEx will already have had an opportunity to interact with them at national competition level. As a logistics business operating globally, it’s incredibly important to stay connected with young people and meet and inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Many of the students who have reached this level will go on to start their own businesses and it’s our aim that FedEx can proudly play a role in helping them to do so.
As an alumni of the Company Program in the UK, how do you believe participation in the program helped to prepare you for the business world?
My personal experience of the Company Program was that it was something very valuable and complimentary to academic education. The experiential nature of the program gave me a clear “real world” understanding of how to build a company from scratch and how business works. The program strongly promotes innovation, which is a key to success in the business world, and has played a large role in my own growth at FedEx.
Like many companies, FedEx recognizes that there are many routes to employment, and it’s becoming increasingly important to arm students with the knowledge of, not just academic subjects, but how to set up a business venture, how to trade across borders, how to run a business responsibly, so that the next generation of entrepreneurs feel confident and empowered to pursue their ideas and make their mark on the world.
FedEx developed the FedEx Access Award which has been judged and awarded at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition for ten years. This year has seen the introduction of the award at national Company of the Year competitions as well. Tell us why FedEx chose to create this award?
FedEx is proud of its approach to corporate citizenship and strives to set industry examples that inspire our peers. As we strive to grow our business in the most responsible and sustainable way, we also want to encourage and pass on knowledge to those looking to do the same. The FedEx Access Award was devised as a way of recognizing and rewarding the student-run business that we felt best demonstrated awareness of innovation, connections to new markets via global trade, community development, and sustainability and social responsibility. These are all elements we feel need to be present from the outset for a start-up business to be successful, and, from there, to remain successful they must be ingrained in everything you do.
Finally, you recently attended the European Summit for Entrepreneurship Education in Brussels. How do you anticipate FedEx being able to shape the development of educational programs around entrepreneurship?
As a global business, FedEx is well positioned to support entrepreneurship more broadly through pioneering thought leadership and influencing policy-makers in the area of entrepreneurship education. Personally, together with JA Europe, I look forward to being able to influence how education programs around entrepreneurship may be developed.