Karriere bei Deutsche Post DHL: Ein Erfahrungsbericht
Catherine O’Toole steht prototypisch für die Internationalität des Unternehmens Deutsche Post DHL. Die Irin mit australischem Pass startete ihre berufliche Karriere in einem österreichischen Logistikunternehmen. Dieser eingeschlagenen Weg brachte sie zu Inhouse Consulting. In diesem Jahr beendete sie ihre Tätigkeit dort als Associate Partner – und widmet sich nun anderen Herausforderungen im Konzern Deutsche Post DHL.
My name is Catherine O’Toole, and until very recently I worked as a consultant for DHL Consulting. DHL Consulting is the in-house consultancy for Deutsche Post DHL, the world’s largest logistics group. DHL Consulting has approximately 100 consultants based between their headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and their other offices in Shanghai, Singapore and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I joined DHL Consulting as a consultant in 2008, and left as an Associate Partner in 2015.
I had no ambition to work in consulting while studying – but the dream of living in the Austrian Alps
I studied International Business and Languages in University, and initially had no ambition to work in consulting. My first position after graduation was in the logistics industry. This was however based much more on my dream of living in the Austrian Alps, which is where I opportunistically found a trainee program, than any burning desire to work in trucking.
Once I began working in the sector my eyes were opened to the scope, scale, and complexities of logistics. I could see the potential for a career in logistics, but did not yet have an idea of what that would look like. As my original role was quite operational, I decided after a few years to move on and further myself with post-graduate study. It was as part of the resulting MSc program in the University of Cologne that I first encountered DHL Consulting.
I had never before encountered an internal consultancy, so did not know what to expect. The more I learned about inhouse consultancy, and specifically DHL Consulting, the more passionate I was about becoming part of the team.
“I was lucky to work with colleagues from over 30 countries.”
Catherine O’Toole, Deutsche Post DHL
The first thing that attracted me was the team. The people that I encountered were from diverse backgrounds, both ethnically and educationally, yet worked together as a close, coherent team. I have found this to be true for the more than seven years that I have worked at DHL Consulting. Many consultancies are international by virtue of having a global reach and offices in many countries. The daily reality for their teams however may be much more homogeneous, as people work in their home countries. I was lucky to work with colleagues from over 30 countries, and on my last assignment, where I had colleagues from over five countries on my team. The teams have consistently been dedicated, passionate, and full of inspiring individuals. Working with these colleagues has without doubt been the highlight of my time in consulting. I have worked with the group throughout Europe and Asia, in locations such as Zürich, Prague, Vienna, Brussels, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and London. In all of these locations I found that the level of dedication and motivation from the DPDHL teams was impressive.
The second thing that sparked my interest was the wide range of topics which the project teams at DHL Consulting work on. In my time at DHL Consulting I worked on projects ranging from defining the overarching strategy for the entire Deutsche Post DHL group, to operational performance improvement in parcel terminals. Hence it was possible to experience the range from high level strategy to very detailed operational improvements. I have also worked across various areas of the business, and later in my career had an opportunity to specialize in the area of freight forwarding.
DHL Consulting also offers projects to external clients of DHL, and due to this the consultants can specialize on an industry segment. An example of this would be the life sciences area where we have run many projects. The outcome of a recent project in Asia was a supply network for very sensitive, temperature controlled medications. The success of this project will result in patients getting their drugs safely, and in a timely manner. Hence the overall project outcome will improve the lives of others in a lasting way.
I enjoy working for a common goal. That is one of the reasons that working for an inhouse consultancy has suited me. I want to strive for the same goals as the teams I work with, our vision of success if the same – though we may not always be aligned on how to get there. I was often put under pressure by my superiors at DHL Consulting to show what value we were providing. The exceptional thing about this, is that I was tested on what lasting value we would provide to our clients, and not on how many consultant months we had managed to sell them. The desire to do the right thing also ensures that our client relationships are lasting.
One theme I was asked to touch upon in this article is the role of women in consulting. For the majority of my time in consulting this was not an issue which I paid much attention to. I have only my own perspective to draw from, but in my experience my work was evaluated based on its own merits. I experienced neither a strong bias nor additional support based on being a woman. This is how I would hope to work for my entire career, as I am then on eye level with all colleagues, whether male or female. Like most women, I have of course experienced some crude jokes, or rude comments which were not thought through. Luckily this has been rare.
When this topic became very important to me was after returning to work after the birth of my daughter. I was very concerned that I would not be taken seriously as a “part-time-mom” consultant. Consulting is not necessarily an industry that lends itself well to working parents, particularly due to the high time pressure and travel commonly associated with the industry. I am lucky to have had an incredibly positive experience.
I had freedom to perform and a lot of support from the teams
I had high levels of support from my Boss, who gave me freedom to perform, and manage any constraints within my personal life however would best fit both my -self and the project. Equally important was the support from the teams I worked with. As an Associate Partner at DHL Consulting, I was responsible for multiple teams working independently, with their own Assignment Managers. These teams and Assignment Managers supported me to be involved in the right areas, kept me up to date where it was needed, called me when they needed to, and dealt with things in a competent and hands on fashion where they did not. Due to this balance of involvement, it was possible for me to also be a success in the role of Associate Partner while working part-time. What I have learned from this, is that as a part-time working parent, it is not possible to be successful alone – you need support and backing from those around you.
Autorin: Catherine O’Toole, Deutsche Post DHL
Catherine O’Toole, Jahrgang 1982, studierte International Business am Institute of Technology in Dublin. Ihre Karriere in der Logistikbranche begann O’Toole, die die irische und die australische Staatsangehörigkeit besitzt, im österreichischen Kufstein. Seit 2008 ist sie bei Deutsche Post DHL beschäftigt, bis vor kurzem im Inhouse Consulting. Mittlerweile ist die 33-jährige innerhalb des Konzerns in eine Führungsposition gewechselt und fungiert nun als Vice President Non-Terminal Based Operations bei DHL Freight.