Grade 12 students get up-close look at UPS Europe’s sorting hub

St. John’s 12th graders got an unusual and up-close look at how UPS enables global commerce recently during a personal tour of the Cologne hub by top company executives.

Hosted by Nando Cesarone, President of UPS’s Europe region, the 39 students and four chaperones got a rare glimpse inside the center of UPS Europe’s midnight sorting hub. There, almost 45 kilometers of belts disperse up to 190,000 packages an hour between 11 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., in time for the last of UPS’s 42 planes to take off around 5:30 a.m.

It’s an increasingly critical stage in modern commerce, and one that UPS employees pride themselves on.

“When you order things online, and when it’s finally delivered to your home, we ….,” said Captain R.E. “Bud” Potts,  UPS’s Chief Pilot of the Americas and Europe,  searching for words to describe the feeling, “…we make that happen.”

The visit was arranged by St. John’s IB teachers Danielle Franzen, teacher of IB Business Management, and Social Studies Department Head Victoire D’Agostino, who teaches IB Economics. Weeks of planning and coordination went into the nearly 24-hour trip to Cologne, including classroom preparation. That included reviews of business concepts, recent podcasts on the sector and a list of topics students wished to discuss. Students asked questions of five top UPS executives on strategic competition and pricing, labor markets, environmental sustainability, future plans and other issues.

Cesarone oversees UPS operations in 56 countries and territories from his Brussels office;  Potts serves as UPS chief pilot for the Americas and Europe, based in Miami. Three other executives representing human relations, marketing and operations addressed the group, before they and seven  UPS Tour Guides gave the students a personalized tour of the 105,000 square meter – more than 1.1 million square feet – building and accompanying ramps and runways.