Three Röhlig employees discuss career paths, cultural diversity and their experiences with the logistics management trainee programme at Röhlig
Why did you apply to be a logistics trainee at Röhlig?
Rogério Vianna: At the end of my Master’s degree studies in Australia, an advertisement for the logistics management trainee programme with Röhlig just leapt out at me. I applied and initially worked in the Operations department at Röhlig Australia for a year. Something I found particularly interesting was the cultural diversity at a company that is active all over the world.
Ndeshi Vatilifa: After I completed a dual master's degree in Global Management & Governance at the Hamburg School of Business Administration I was looking for a company that focused on logistics and finance. My first station was in the Sea Freight department at Röhlig Germany, Hamburg, as a logistics management trainee.
Tawanda Chataika: In my case, the HR department at Röhlig Logistics came to one of my classes and gave a presentation about the company. This was during my time at the International Logistics Management degree programme at Jacobs University in Bremen.
What topics were covered on the trainee programme?
Rogério Vianna: Logistics trainees at Röhlig have the opportunity to work in various departments. Operations is a mandatory block, of course, since it’s the foundation for all logistics processes. Over the course of the programme, however, trainees can then select additional modules according to their individual interests and to the company’s need. In addition to Group Controlling and sales, I also worked in Corporate Communications, which I personally find very interesting.
Tawanda Chataika: I started out in Customer Relationship Management, where I worked as a Market Information Analyst.
In which countries did you complete the various stages of the programme?
Rogério Vianna: My training started in Australia and I then spent a year at the company headquarters in Bremen, Germany. Then I transferred to the UK headquarters in Birmingham, before moving on to London. This was a coincidence really: One of our clients needed urgent support on their implementation phase with Röhlig, so I started working in their office as an implant a few days a week. I’ve been in London ever since.
Tawanda Chataika: I started my management trainee programme in the CRM team at the Bremen headquarters. Whilst I worked there I was in contact with many branches all over the world. When it was time to choose the next location, I decided to work at Röhlig USA in the Pricing team. More opportunities opened up here and I now work as a Purchasing Manager in Chicago.
What distinguishes Röhlig and makes the company unique as an employer?
Ndeshi Vatilifa: The world of logistics is highly international and most of the processes are handled in English. This makes things easier for international employees, of course. My colleagues are really nice and have supported me a great deal. It was highly practice-oriented right from the start.
The world of logistics is highly international and most of the processes are handled in English.
Tawanda Chataika: Having lots of international employees increases motivation and innovation too. Employees are always looking for new ways of doing things and actively drive projects forwards. We have a continuous stream of ideas at all levels in the company. That helps us to improve our service a bit every day.
Rogério Vianna: The company headquarters in Bremen has a particularly international atmosphere. The working environment is very positive and dynamic. People from different cultural backgrounds work here – and at all levels. The local offices are a little more homogeneous in this regard, since they focus on their respective market.
Tawanda Chataika: People at all levels of management are approachable and open to all employees. For me, this is a key feature of Röhlig as a company. They are always happy to discuss things and exchange views. Fresh ideas flow very freely and dynamically. This often allows us to find solutions very quickly and sometimes unconventionally.
Bremen Diversity Prize: ‘Encouraging example for other medium-sized enterprises’
Röhlig won the Bremen Diversity Prize in 2014. It was awarded by an association of various social institutions and honours organisations that promote diversity. We received the award for appreciating diversity as a corporate culture, for consciously creating cultural diversity within the workforce, for our exemplary international young talent development programme, for promoting family friendliness within the company and for creating a gender balance. The jury praised Röhlig’s attitude and steps taken as an encouraging example for other medium-sized enterprises.
Working abroad has shown me how important it is to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds. I benefited greatly from this when I first worked as an implant inside a customer’s office. I benefited from this in a personal capacity too, of course.
What has been your most important experience gained during the traineeship?
Rogério Vianna: I met lots of people from all over the world in one place. And I learned a lot from working with people from other cultures. I will definitely take that away from my time at the Bremen headquarters. Working abroad has shown me how important it is to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds. I benefited greatly from this when I first worked as an implant inside a customer’s office. I benefited from this in a personal capacity too, of course.
Tawanda Chataika: I was able to contact my supervisor at any time if any questions or problems came up, either about the work itself or any questions relating to living in a foreign country. This made it easier for me to integrate. Also, colleagues often met up after work for some regular activities in Bremen. This made us a closer team and has had a positive effect on both professional and personal levels.
Ndeshi Vatilifa: The world we live in is highly globalised. In my current role, for example, I travel a lot. An open-minded attitude and understanding of other cultures helps you to understand people and processes better. The management trainee programme helped me further develop these skills.
Rogério Vianna: I enjoyed my time in Bremen a great deal. Bremen is a beautiful city. It is very charming and a lovely place to be. Since I grew up in a big city, it was almost a bit too quiet for me sometimes (laughs). However, a new experience can help you learn a lot about your own personality. Personal growth and development became a very important subject in my life from this time.
Ndeshi Vatilifa: Living and working in Europe and America gave and continues to give me the wonderful opportunity to experience how Europeans and Americans live their lives. I have met a lot of great people with different backgrounds and have learned to be open-minded in both my professional and personal life. Every place and every person has their own unique story to tell. You never know what you will learn next.
Tawanda Chataika: I have fond memories of my time at Röhlig in Bremen. I already knew the city well having studied at Jacobs University. When I started working at Röhlig, the transition period was quite smooth because I already knew the country and spoke the language. My colleagues in Bremen also gave me a lot of support. That made the start much easier than I had expected.
How did Röhlig support you as a logistics trainee?
Rogério Vianna: We received a lot of practical support during the trainee programme, for example the company paid for flights or accommodation in a new location for the first month until we had found somewhere to live. In addition, there was also support from permanent points of contact for the trainees. They made sure we were doing well physically and mentally.
Ndeshi Vatilifa: During the management trainee program it was very helpful to have an in-house mentor who knew a lot about the company and I could talk to him and seek career development advice. This was a great advantage for my next postings in the company because my mentor knew about my medium-term goals.
What do graduates gain from taking part in an MTP and international postings?
Rogério Vianna: The various international postings during the traineeship are a wonderful experience and a chance to get to know new places, cultures and people – and a huge opportunity for personal growth.
Tawanda Chataika: Current participants and alumni from the management trainee programme at Röhlig are something of a family within the Röhlig family itself. Even after completing the programme you will always be able to count on the support of your colleagues. The network that is developed during the traineeships benefits employees when they are working in their future roles within the company. It’s a perfect career entry opportunity for young graduates, which I can only recommend.
Ndeshi Vatilifa: Working internationally is a great opportunity because it brings unexpected challenges that help us learn and grow. Experiencing different cultures encourages us to question the way we do things. Understanding the cultural component also helps us in today's globalised work. Therefore, I would advise everyone to seize this opportunity because it allows us to find out where our strengths really are. Of course, perseverance is one of them – but there is just so much to discover.
Working internationally is a great opportunity because it brings unexpected challenges that help us learn and grow.