Deutsche Post

Helping Refugees Help Themselves

Frank Appel by Christoph Papsch for Handelsblatt
What can the postal services do for refugees?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The refugee crisis presents pitfalls and opportunities for Germany, with most businesses welcoming the supply of labor.

  • Facts


    • There are currently 500,000 unfilled jobs in Germany.
    • Deutsche Post CEO Frank Appel believes that his company can have the most impact by helping people help themselves.
    • In addition to training programs, Deutsche Post will provide 100,000 square meters of space for refugees.
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Frank Appel doesn’t have a typical postal-service career. The chief executive of Deutsche Post DHL studied chemistry and later earned a doctorate in neurobiology. But instead of pursing a career in science, he joined the business management consultancy McKinsey, where he rose to the top of the German operation. In 2000, he took over as head of corporate development at Deutsche Post and joined the board two years later. Since 2008, he has been the group’s chief executive. His current contract runs through 2017.

Deutsche Post, which is listed on the German blue-chip DAX index, is 21 percent owned by the country’s development bank, KfW, and the rest by other shareholders.

Handelsblatt met with Mr. Appel at the company’s headquarters in Bonn to discuss the refugee crisis, which is a priority for the 54-year-old executive and his company.


Handelsblatt: How far away does the refugee crisis seem when you’re the CEO of a DAX-listed company?

Frank Appel: Even though I’ve been traveling abroad a lot in recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about this issue. For instance, refugees are now being housed in a former Deutsche Post branch in Sankt Augustin, a city not far from Bonn. Both people and companies need to be involved, but not without ignoring reason.

How should politicians react?

In my view, our German politicians are doing their job very well, even though there are no easy answers to the many new questions we face. Germany can’t accept all the people who want to come here, but we can’t send the new arrivals back or build fences, either. This is a huge dilemma.

You recently announced plans to offer Deutsche Post apprenticeships to up to 1,000 refugees. Can you provide us with any interim results?

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