Dec 11, 2020|

One of JD’s Rising Stars Reflects on Countryside Training


by Kelly Dawson

While many young professionals look to the big cities for career advancement, one young member of JD’s “Rising Stars” program for new employees found personal growth and inspiration in the countryside. Six months before graduating from university in Chengdu at the beginning of 2020, Sichuan native Zheng Rui was hired into JD Logistics’ early employment program.

His first post would be in southeast of Guizhou province, 800 kilometers away from home. Passing through winding mountain roads, the drive took a full day. Despite the remote location, his family’s support ensured Zheng that he was making the right decision. “My family always encouraged me to seek adventure,” he said. “There is so much talent in the big cities, we thought perhaps there might be more opportunity in the smaller towns.”

In Guizhou, JD Logistics put Zheng to work in a warehouse, with hands-on experience of front-line logistics, distribution and more. Less than six months later, he received news that he would be promoted to lead a sales department—but it would require that he relocate to an even more remote locale: Danzhai county, an area once known for its high levels of poverty.

“I panicked,” Zheng said. “It felt like it was all happening too suddenly.”

Despite his fears, he made the transition. In his new role he was leading more than ten people—despite being almost the youngest member of the team. Additionally, the impact of relocating to such a rural area was disorienting. The work required that he move around to different towns and villages in the area, but public transportation was slow and spotty, and added uncertainty and inconvenience to his days.

JD’s annual shopping festival “618” (June 18 is the company’s anniversary and a peak sales period) loomed. “I was fresh out of school, I had no experience and my thinking wasn’t clear,” Zheng said.

Gradually, his work superiors helped him settle into the role. As he adjusted, he began to find his footing. First, he strictly enforced JD Logistics’ regulations, which resulted in improved performance for the department, and in turn, better morale. After strengthening team cohesion, he turned to the question of how to grow the business.

Zheng met a fellow Sichuan native in the town, who helped introduce him to local businesses and contacts. He visited a winery two hours away from Danzhai, in hopes of securing their business—but two visits later, and the owner had still not taken the bait. Perhaps it was Zheng’s youth or inexperience, he speculates now. On the next visit, Zheng brought his manager, who helped seal the deal. The winery soon began shipping a thousand orders a day with JD Logistics.

Zheng persevered. He observed that Danzhai’s remote location meant that tourists passing through the area struggled to transport their local gift purchases home, with luggage and parcels piled high on tour buses. He suggested a campaign to encourage tourists to use JD Express to ship their gift packages home—the idea was a hit, resulting in increased convenience for tourists and better business for JD.

During the year in which Zheng worked in Danzhai, Guizhou’s tourism industry underwent a growth spurt, with local poverty alleviation efforts showing positive results. The average income in the area rose, and online shopping increased—leading to higher demand for JD Logistics’ services. When Zheng first arrived in Danzhai, JD couriers handled an average of 30-40 orders each day; by the time he left, couriers were managing 70-80 deliveries a day. It would seem that local progress and growth mirrored Zheng’s own journey.

Looking back on this period of time, Zheng is full of gratitude for the unique experience of living and working in a lower-tier market—and most of all for the people who helped him, he said. His colleagues supported him, and his managers gave him the opportunity to challenge himself.

JD’s “Rising Stars” program recruited more than a thousand fresh university graduates in 2020, for a program that will provide management training, real-world on-site training and experience, and more. Ultimately, they will enter management positions, far better equipped to handle the responsibility.

In 2021, JD has announced that it will hire 15,000 new college graduates, welcoming the largest group of fresh graduates in the company’s history.