Mike Parra has joined an exclusive club. He became one of just 10 Hispanic CEOs at a Fortune 500 company when he stepped in to lead DHL Express U.S. in February.
He replaced Ian Clough, who had been CEO since 2009, and was also installed as a member of the company's U.S. management board.
Mr. Parra had been serving as senior vice president of network operations for DHL Express Americas.
Stephen Fenwick, CEO of DHL Express Americas, cited Mr. Parra's "extraordinary customer-centric approach (which) will serve us well as we continue to invest in our U.S. network for global customers."
Mr. Parra started at DHL as a service center manager in South Florida in 1997 and worked his way up. Hats he's worn at the international express service include general manager and senior vice president, overseeing operations in the western U.S. and Guam.
Previously, he held positions with TNT Express Worldwide in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A bright future for a bellwether industry
Mr. Parra was laconic about the sort of problems that beset shipping and logistics rival FedEx last Christmas and expressed optimism as consumers increasingly shift toward an online economy.
"We work many months in advance with customers that expect significant holiday volume increases," he told HispanicBusiness.com. "We schedule extra aircraft and trucking rotations, equipment and additional pickup and delivery fleets to handle these volume peaks."
That, he said, "is the normal cycle of business for us."
DHL recently conducted a study on how online commerce affects brick-and-mortar stores, he said, and found that e-tail will gain an increasing share of global importance over the next decade.
"Customers still want to go to a store and try on or buy something," he said, so shippers need to be flexible about delivery times and "easy return solutions." That means making sure shipments get to consumers at a place and time that suits them.
"I've noticed a bigger push to increase diversity in leadership and board positions at Fortune 500 companies," Mr. Parra said. There are only 10 Hispanic CEOs at those top firms, he pointed out, accounting for 2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.
However, he said, "Hispanics are being considered more often."
That's "a nudge in the right direction," he said.
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