The future of logistics in India
A passionate story from GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai

A day in the life of an expatriate working for a Hyundai Glovis is unique. They have to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, language, and work in collaboration with local employees. Expatriate life is especially challenging in countries with poor logistics infrastructure. Let’s take a look at the day-to-day life of Senior Manager Lee Yul-bin in Chennai, India, and see what the future holds for logistics in India.

GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai is located in South East India and is the workplace of a proud Glovis employee, Lee Yul-bin. He joined the company in 2011 and worked in the field and sales team for many years before moving to the overseas subsidiary support department in 2018. He was responsible for corporate business development and support until July 1, 2022, when he was transferred to Chennai, India, where he was responsible for India. He often traveled to India to support our Indian subsidiaries and that’s where the love affair began and he is now an expatriate.

The Chennai region, where Senior Manager Lee Yul-bin works, was once called Madras. In particular, the ports in the Chennai region have developed since the 16th century and serve as a center for the spice trade. The region’s proximity to the equator makes it a hot place, with highs of 38 degrees Celsius in May and feelings of around 50 degrees Celsius. It’s a challenging environment to live in, but the GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai continues to build the future of Glovis every day.

Chennai location, formerly known as Madras

The GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai was staffed by a regional manager and regional expatriates until late last year when the Asia-Pacific region moved to Delhi, and now has a total of eight employees, including the corporate manager. The GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai is mainly engaged in CKD, TP, forwarding, inland transportation, and used cars. Lee Yul-bin, General Manager, is in charge of forwarding.

In addition to import procurement logistics for major group companies and component companies, including HMIL, he is responsible for global procurement and export of parts manufactured in India and exported to Hyundai and Kia plants around the world, as well as import and export forwarding of CKDs to countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Ecuador.

Meeting with Asia-Pacific representatives

“We are handling more than 30,000 import and export containers per year in terms of FEUs (40-foot equivalent units) as the volume of automobile production in the country increases and India emerges as a local sourcing destination for global auto parts companies.”

Rail transportation events

The GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai, like the headquarters, is currently going through a difficult time due to a number of international political issues. Currently, we are facing the Red Sea issue caused by the Israeli-Palestinian war, which has forced us to bypass the Cape of Good Hope, increasing shipping lead times and costs. India in particular, which handles a large volume of KD exports through the Turkish HAOS, has faced challenges in the early days of the Red Sea issue.

“To address the external challenges, we have reviewed our vessel sailing and port call schedules, which change on a daily basis, and scheduled shipments to minimize lead times. We are also utilizing all available options to ensure that our customers’ production is not disrupted by developing alternative transportation routes that combine emergency air, sea, and land border transportation. We hope that the various international disputes occurring in different parts of the world will be resolved soon.

When Lee Yul-bin arrived, he experienced India’s logistics scene firsthand and realized that it was very backward. The Indian government’s investment in the overall logistics infrastructure, including rail, land, sea (terminals) and air, was still insufficient and lagged behind other countries. However, he felt that this meant that India’s logistics had great potential for development. The high economic growth rate, the steady increase in import and export volumes, and the Modi government’s policy to promote logistics are reasons for confidence.

Attend the baby shower of a local colleague’s child

Therefore, Lee Yul-bin hopes to overcome the current issues facing the GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai and look forward to the future value of logistics in India. First and foremost, he shares the goals of the subsidiary and strives to stay on track. The goal of the forwarding business is to ‘strengthen the business capabilities for the development of the forwarding business in the medium to long term’.

In doing so, Lee hopes to steadily secure the logistics network and assets and lay a foundation for the expansion of independent businesses. Despite the challenges of sweltering weather, complex cultural differences, and unpredictable domestic and international environmental issues, Lee is as determined to fulfill his role as an expatriate in Chennai today as he was yesterday.

A shot taken while cheering at an inter-team cricket tournament at GLOVIS INDIA in Chennai.

How would you describe yourself before and after the working overseas?

When I worked at headquarters, we had a decentralized organization, including sales, operations, and pricing support organizations, and depending on your role, you would delegate certain parts of your work to other teams and get support. Forwarding at the corporate level is different in that expatriates are expected to perform a variety of tasks, including sales, operations, and pricing. I believe that being in control of the entire forwarding business in India and leading a team of 30-40 local employees has given me a broader perspective on the business as a whole, although it does come with business responsibilities.

Is there anything I need to work on in order to fulfill my role as an expatriate?

At the beginning of my tenure, I was busy learning new tasks, and after some time, I tried to improve and stabilize what was lacking, and now that I feel more settled, I think we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, but rather look ahead and prepare for the future.

“I have been an expatriate for two years now. I think it’s time for me
to set more aggressive and forward-looking goals.
I will try to leave the local employees currently living in GLOVIS INDIA with a tradition
of growing with the organization and a foundation (logistics assets)
that will allow us to continue to grow”

Tell us about the neighborhood you currently live in.

I currently live in an apartment in the Adyar area of downtown Chennai. When I joined the company, I lived in a villa near the beach outside the city center because I wanted a cottage-like home where I could fulfill my dream of living in a foreign country. Recently, I moved to a newly built apartment near downtown. (laughs) I guess the Korean love of apartments is inevitable. (laughs) I liked the villa because it was spacious, but it was a burden to manage every day and it was expensive, so I gave up. Now that I live in an apartment, I’m very happy.

A family trip to Bengaluru (left) and Jaipur in India

What are some of the challenges or pleasant experiences you’ve had with cultural differences?

The diversity of Indian culture is well known, whether it’s language or religion, but in real life it’s most evident in food. It’s very evident when you have dinner with company employees or when you meet locals in India and then share a meal with them. First of all, most people you meet in India are religious, very few are not, and their eating habits vary greatly depending on their religion. Hindus are vegetarians. Muslims don’t eat pork, Catholics can eat all kinds of meat, and so it’s really hard to decide on a menu for dinner, even within a team. We have to avoid dinner during Ramadan out of respect for the Muslim gentlemen.

And in India, where we don’t eat beef, chicken is the most readily available meat. Whether you go to McDonald’s, KFC, or Burger King, the only difference is the sauce, so I joke that I’ve eaten more chicken in India than I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Puja, a Hindu ritual of worship

Tell us about your daily routine after work.

To be honest, freight forwarding is a night job, and our corporate office is located in an industrial area outside of the city where the automobile plants are located, so by the time I get home from work, it’s usually around 8 or 9 p.m. So after work on weekdays, I don’t do anything special except end the day with my family.

So tell us about your favorite places to go on a lazy weekend.

Even on weekends it is hot in India, so it is difficult to visit parks and attractions when you have small children. On Sundays, we go to St. Thomas Church in Chennai. There is a Korean priest in Chennai who was sent from Korea, so we can watch the Korean mass and chat with other Korean families at mass and have a peaceful weekend.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few Catholic Indians in the region. St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was martyred long ago for his missionary efforts, and the region has a distinctly Catholic faith. Isn’t it amazing that he walked from Rome to the southernmost tip of India in the early first century? The Basilica of Santhome houses the relics of St. Thomas and is one of only three basilicas in the world to house the relics of the twelve disciples of Jesus, along with St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy and St. James’ Basilica in Santiago, Spain.

Santhome Cathedral Basilica, where the remains of Saint Thomas are enshrined

St. Thomas little mount church, which Lee visit every Sunday with my family

Do you have any tips for enjoying life in India?

I know there is a whiskey craze in Korea as mixed drinks are popular after the COVID-19 outbreak, but there are actually some good single malt whiskey brands from India. Amrut, Paul John, etc. are often introduced in Korea these days. They are affordable and rich in flavor. It’s a lot of fun to make highballs with these Indian whiskeys after work, or invite friends over for dinner on the weekend and have a glass while drinking.

A variety of Indian whiskeys

“I want to travel to different parts of India with my family, and even if I’m an expat in India for a long time, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do that.
Many people don’t travel within the country due to transportation, accommodation, and safety concerns. Despite the challenges of traveling, India’s long east-west, north-south, and south-north stretches, and there is religious and cultural diversity from region to region.
Traveling from near the northern Himalayas to East Bengal and the southwest, we’ve seen the
I want to understand more about India and have a colorful experience with my family.”

BY Editorial department