Our team member Christian Schubert cannot imagine a better professional career in logistics

As Southeast Vice President at Röhlig USA, Christian Schubert is responsible for managing the business in the southeastern United States. With his team, he takes care of the smooth running of all processes in the region between Miami and Atlanta. Have we achieved each local goal? How do we want to develop our business? Christian Schubert deals with these questions every day. That's a lot of responsibility. He started his career with Röhlig in Miami.

Christian Schubert, Southeast Vice President at Röhlig USA

How did you come to your logistics job in the US? Was it pure coincidence?

As long as I can remember, I am a fan of the USA and always wanted to live in the States. I learned the business at a freight forwarder in Germany. Then there was the opportunity to work in the US - and I took it (laughs). That's how I came to America. The team was great, the collaboration went well and from there, further opportunities presented themselves. One of them brought me to Röhlig.

How did you experience getting started with your job in the US?

I had just finished my apprenticeship - in Germany we have an intensive two or three years of vocational training and that’s provides us with a very good foundation. I made the move to the USA through a trainee program, which I completed at a Danish logistics company. It felt like a step back at first because I was already an employee in Germany. In the US, the principle of "learning by doing" is king and one’s responsibility usually increases gradually.

"In the US, a huge emphasis is placed on teamwork – and a lot less rigidly organized."

Where do you see differences between the two countries in regards to your work? 

You are quickly accepted into the team and the way you are handled is more personal when compared to working in Germany. You can already tell by the fact that all of the colleagues work together - across all levels of the hierarchy. That is very pleasant.

It was a very warm and hospitable welcome from everyone to the entire team to the branch manager. I was received proverbially with open arms. The American colleagues were really helpful and took great care of me. That was really great, I was very thankful, especially at the beginning when I was on my own, I didn’t have any family or friends in the States. For example, on public holidays - such as Thanksgiving – they would invite international employees to their home for dinner. So it works a lot easier with feeling integrated and settling in.

Was there no culture shock at all for you?

Definitely, there was a certain culture shock for me to move from Germany to the USA. It was the same when I moved from Chicago to Miami. It might be similar a feeling when moving from Flensburg to Munich in Germany.

We jokingly always say around here that Miami is already the northernmost capital in Latin America - although of course it is still part of the USA. But life here is already strongly influenced by South American culture. It took a good while for me to grasp the culture:

The German and South American mentalities - that's nearly as far apart as the North and South Pole.

How international is your work environment today - and what advantages does that offer?

In the region I currently serve, specifically between Miami and Atlanta, we work with a very international team. The majority of colleagues come from South America: Brazilians, Peruvians, Colombians, Cubans - it's very mixed. Especially in Miami, the team works closely with South American partners and customers. It is advantageous simply because of the shared languages, if colleagues and customers can talk in Spanish or Portuguese - that facilitates communication. Interpersonal communication is also beneficial right at the beginning of a collaboration because in South America getting to know each other is very important before doing business. I experience that here in Miami too. You have to establish a personal relationship with potential partners beforehand, you can still talk about prices later on.

What does diversity mean in the US today?

The US is still a country of immigration. The diversity is immense, you also recognize that during the holidays. In Europe, most holidays have a religious background, here in the US they are more related to national events: Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day or Thanksgiving. If they were religious, we would have a holiday here every week (laughs).

What should employees who want to work in the US bring along with them?

In the US, you first have to prove yourself in any situation. To achieve this, you have to be flexible and open to the host culture. This includes leaving behind things that were important to someone in their former culture. This is the biggest hurdle for many because, of course, they have everything in their home country of Germany: they know each other, grew up there and have a family there. When they are in a new country, they have to start over. This works only if you consciously adjust to the new. One should be unbiased and let the other culture sink in first.

What else do you want from your international employees?

We are looking for employees who are motivated, flexible and who firmly believe in their success. That's the most important thing for me.

"You can learn technical and organizational things on the job, but either you have a can-do attitude or you don’t."

What does Röhlig offer potential new employees as an American employer in logistics?

Röhlig is a family business and that determines our corporate culture. That’s also how we manage in the USA: personally and binding. Since the job constitutes a large part of our lives, it is important to not only master challenges successfully, but also interpersonally.

So, you would like to stay in the USA?

Yes, everything fits well here. I especially appreciate the freedom and the vastness of the country. The southeast, the region that I serve, is bigger than Germany - from Atlanta to Miami is already an eight hour drive. You can even see differences in nature: here in Miami it is very tropical, but  Atlanta, for example, is similar to southern or central Italy. I find that very exciting.

I met my wife here and our child was born here, which of course also helps to make you feel deeply rooted. You never know what's going to happen in five years, but right now we're planning on staying in the US.

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