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Delivering the goods during the COVID-19 crisis

Concordia grads play leading roles in Canadian operations of UPS, FedEx
May 22, 2020
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By Doug Sweet

Pina Starnino, BA 85 Pina Starnino, BA 85, Vice-President (Operations) at FedEx Express Canada | Photo: Courtesy of FedEx Canada

The Concordia community can boast of two executives leading Canadian operations of global firms deemed critical during the COVID-19 crisis.

As president of UPS Canada, Dominic Porporino, BA 88, is in charge of more than 12,000 employees. At FedEx Express Canada, Pina Starnino, BA 85, has driven a strategy to implement superior service and customer satisfaction as vice-president of operations.

Both oversee a daunting array of tasks made far more complex by the pandemic. They recently took time to answer some questions.

First, how are you holding up?

Dominic Porporino, BA 88 Dominic Porporino, BA 88, President of UPS Canada | Photo: Courtesy of UPS Canada

Dominic Porporino: Well, considering the circumstances. What we are experiencing is unlike anything any of us have ever witnessed. Thrust into our second month of forced confinement, I’m struck by our collective resilience and ability to adapt. Perhaps most inspiring, a spirit of gratitude is quietly emerging.

From people putting out baskets of snacks on their porch to leaving gift cards for drivers to purchase coffee and sticking thank-you notes and drawings on their front doors, we’re profoundly moved by displays of support and kindness from the community. It’s really boosting spirits.

Pina Starnino: Professionally speaking, ensuring all of our team members are safe as they provide the daily essential services our customers and communities are expecting, has been a huge focus during this crisis.

I have also been affected personally, as my father is in a CHSLD residence in Quebec, which has been severely affected by COVID-19. Not being able to see him has been very difficult, but I try to focus on the things I can control and influence. This includes connecting with our team members to ensure I am in touch with how they are feeling and what their needs are. As for my father, I try to call and Skype with him as often as possible.

How has the crisis affected the way your companies operate?

DP: Designated by governments around the world as a ‘critical infrastructure business,’ we have both the privilege and responsibility to continue safely working.

We’re adapting our normal processes to ensure we satisfy customer needs and keep commerce flowing. While more people order online from home, the safety of our employees, customers and the general public continues to be our first priority. As a result, we’ve changed the way we deliver to ensure physical distancing. This includes no longer collecting signatures upon delivery and ensuring any import fees are paid in advance, online.

The isolation, in many ways, has brought us closer together. We’re proud to do our part to keep the economy moving, people working and Canadians hopeful.

PS: I speak on behalf of our entire executive team when I say we are very appreciative of all our team members’ tireless efforts during this unprecedented time when our customers and communities need us more than ever. FedEx has a unique responsibility in Canada and around the world to step up and deliver during times of crisis.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is physically connecting with our front-line workers. I have continued to do that where possible, while respecting the physical distancing guidelines. Where that is not possible, virtual calls and video messaging have helped. Working from home has also been a surprisingly positive experience.  

What kind of philanthropy have your organizations been involved in at this difficult time?

DP: UPS Healthcare and UPS operations all over the world are working with many companies and agencies across the public and private sectors to transport testing kits, personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical devices needed in support of public safety and to speed diagnosis and therapy for COVID-19.

The UPS Foundation has expanded its response to the novel coronavirus, including new grant allocations surpassing $6 million to UN agencies, humanitarian relief partners and community-based non-profit and international non-government organizations. The relief support includes collaboration with more than a dozen organizations and the provision of in-kind transportation, supply-chain consultation and cash contributions to expedite the distribution of PPE for health-care workers and other life-sustaining activities.

PS: Here in Canada, FedEx has been working with GlobalMedic, a Canadian disaster-relief organization that works to help at-risk people including children, seniors, the homeless and women in shelters. We have delivered more than 25,000 kilograms of supplies to communities across Canada, including hygiene kits for more than 9,000 people, more than 5,500 litres of hand sanitizer, 22,000 surgical masks as well as surgical gowns and gloves for front-line health-care workers.

We are also delivering medications, prescriptions and medical devices for patients of SickKids Hospital, as well as approximately 10,000 prepared meals from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to front-line health-care workers and shelters across Toronto every week.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the well-being of our students — many of whom can no longer afford basic necessities such as rent and groceries. If you can, please consider making a donation.

And if you’re participating in COVID-19 community projects, don’t forget to tell us: socialmedia.alumni@concordia.ca



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