Logistics – not just for men.

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Logistics still tends to be seen as a man’s world. However, times are changing, and more and more women are making a name for themselves in the field. At Dachser in Luxembourg, for instance

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27/08/2019 |
  • Nicole Engelbert.Janine Weber.Laura Waigel

"Connecting, commitment, openness and transparency are central topics to our management approach'', says Janine Weber, branch manager of DACHSER Grevenmacher in Luxembourg. Her eyes shine and a smile crosses her face as she speaks. "It is exceptional to have had so many management positions filled by women in the logistics sector", Weber notes. With Nicole Engelbert she has a Sales Manager and with Laura Waigel a Customer Service Manager at her side.

These three women, all about thirty years old, clearly enjoy their work. Their positive attitude also resonates with their team, as seen by the fact that there is generally zero fluctuation at Grevenmacher. “We tend not to focus on hierarchies in our branch; we speak to each other informally and address any problems.” Weber believes that communication is an area where women tend to excel.

Engelbert also appreciates this managerial approach: “Every week we have a big meeting with the department managers, where we keep each other in the loop.” This gives everyone the chance to discuss important topics directly and the entire team is kept up to speed on all the latest developments. “We then know for sure that the other departments are also happy with the decisions we make,” she says. Engelbert’s career at Dachser started with a dual-study program in 2008, and she has been working at the Luxembourg branch since 2012. 

 

An easy decision     

Laura Waigel joined the company in 2014 at Engelbert’s suggestion. “It’s not your typical office job,” she says. “The global connections alone bring more than their fair share of variety to our work.” Trained in business education and management, she is happy with the decision she made at the time, although “it wasn’t an obvious move,” she recalls. Of the three women, she is the only one who does not have a background in logistics.

“When we look for new members of staff, we spend a lot of time considering whether they will be a good fit for the team,” Weber says. With Waigel, there was a connection from the word go. And despite being new to the sector, it did not take her long to get to grips with the subject matter. This was essential; not least to make sure her male colleagues would take her seriously. “Our work requires us to be in the hall almost every day, which is why it’s so important that we have a good rapport with everyone. This is possible only if people are prepared to listen to and learn from one another,” Weber says.

The branch manager has been developing her logistics expertise at Dachser since 2007. She also started out on a dual-study program: business administration specializing in freight forwarding, transport, and logistics. After completing her school-leaving exams, she had wanted to study something that had a future, she recalls. Her father, who ran an elevator company, had suggested that one of his customers might be able to offer her a traineeship: Dachser. Weber did not wait long.

“I was hooked from the very first lecture,” says the 31-year-old. “The topic was groupage, and it immediately piqued my interest.” Alongside her studies, she gained an insight into various departments at the Munich branch as part of her practical training. “When I speak to our guys in the hall today, they realize that I know what I’m talking about,” says Weber. A total of 45 employees are on her payroll, 20 of whom are logistics operatives in the warehouse and transit terminal. They appreciate being able to communicate openly and honestly.           

 

Female logistics talent

It is clear, especially when looking at the halls and trucks, that logistics is still a male-dominated field. To help balance things out in the near future, Dachser invites girls and young women who are still at school or college to look around the company, allowing them to experience logistics firsthand. As part of the company’s Girls’ Day, for instance, an annual initiative that takes place throughout Germany. Dachser’s Dortmund branch also regularly participates in the event. There, at the end of March, young female trainees at Dachser showed 14-year-old schoolgirls around the warehouse and introduced them to their world of work. “We were allowed to have a go at maneuvering pallets with lift-trucks and see for ourselves how swap bodies are loaded,” says Ivana Kegalj. She attends the local middle school and had gotten the idea to take part in Girls’ Day from her dad. He himself works at Dachser and had heard that the young trainees had been eagerly preparing an exciting day for the schoolgirls since as early as January. When he told his daughter, Kegalj was so excited by the idea that she even got another friend to sign up and look around the Dachser warehouse with her.

“There are many routes into logistics for young women,” says Waigel. As a member of the female management trio in Luxembourg, she can speak from her own experience: “Even with a background in business education and training management, I immediately felt welcome at Dachser.” After all, she points out, day-to-day logistics operations requires all kinds of expertise. “What we have in common we is our passion and personal commitment to constantly achieve the best for our customers as a team. Women can do this just as well as men.” This is clear from the example set in Luxembourg, where success and camaraderie come in equal measure.           

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