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Deepak Chopra helms to head Canada Post

February 12, 2011 04:44 IST
Deepak Chopra, till recently president and chief executive officer, Pitney Bowes (Canada and Latin America), has been appointed president and CEO of Canada Post, the country's largest employer.

'Canada Post Corporation will benefit greatly from Chopra's dynamic leadership,' said Rob Merrifield, minister of state (transport), who supervises this Crown corporation's functioning. 'His 15 years of executive experience in providing operational excellence and innovation in the mailing industry will ensure that Canada Post continues to build on the progress already made towards providing postal services that Canadians can count on, maintaining rural service and protecting the mail.'

'I am pleased that Chopra has agreed to serve with the Canada Post Corporation,' said Chuck Strahl, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities. 'His extensive experience in dealing with government and postal officials around the world, as well as the vast knowledge of the regulatory bodies governing the mailing industry will definitely be a strong asset.'

Canada Post is known to be in deep trouble. Its revenues are declining because of the Internet and it has faced management problems as well. In the past 4 years, mail volumes have declined 11.4 percent, representing about $ 350 million in lost revenues, and the decline rate is accelerating.

With Chopra starting his five-year term February 1 there has been widespread analysis of the challenges he faces. 

'Chopra's first challenge will be to avoid a damaging strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, when the union's collective agreement expires this month,' said the National Post. 'Since management is not looking for wage or benefit concessions and is merely asking for more flexibility from the union, as it seeks to implement its Modern Post transformation, you might imagine this task should not prove Herculean. You would be wrong.'

According to this report, another challenge is the feelers from the federal government about privatization of Canada Post. Merrifield has reportedly said that they have to sell Canada Post's courier service, Purolator, in whole or part. 

Canada Post also has a pension shortfall of $ 2 billion every year, and its aging sorting and distribution plants require lot of investments. 

But Chopra seems undeterred. 'It's fair to ask, if Canada Post is facing such insurmountable challenges, why do I want to join the company?' Chopra told his staff as he introduced himself. 'We are the only organization that touches every Canadian address every business day.'

Despite the challenges, Canada Post, he added, remains a 'national treasure.'

Ajit Jain in Toronto