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Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#35: Sabine Mueller CEO of DHL Consulting
February 01, 2019 Radu Palamariu

Sabine Mueller CEO of DHL Consulting

DHL Consulting is the independent strategic supply chain and management consultancy of Deutsche Post DHL Group, employing 150 consultants all over the world.

Sabine has been dedicated to the logistics sector for close to two decades. After she joined Deutsche Post DHL she took several roles as Consultant, Project Manager, Associate Partner, after that in 2003 she was appointed SVP Head of the Corporate Organization. Starting with 2010 CEO DHL Consulting. Together with her  team at DHL Consulting, they passionately guide global logistics executives to effectively tackle and overcome supply chain challenges. 

In her own words: “As leaders, we cannot ignore the severe transformational changes this field is going through, which require us to rethink the way we do business. Digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, drones, blockchain, and the circular economy will redefine the supply chain and logistics ecosystem. “

Beyond her logistics career, she considers the advancement of women in executive roles to be a fundamental requirement for business success. She is personally committed to help female leaders succeed and promote more diversity in management teams.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:03Hello everybody and welcome to the leaders in supply chain podcast. I am your host rather Palomar you global supply chain practice head for Morgan Phillips Executive Search. I am delighted to have with us today, so I've been Miller, CEO of DHL consulting. Hr consulting is an independent strategic supply chain and management consultancy of Egypt, post digital group employing 120 consultants all over the world. Sabina has been dedicated to the logistics sector for close to two decades. After she joined the Hfos Dhl, she took several roses, consultant, project manager, associate partner after which in 2003 she was appointed as vp and head of the corporate organization starting from 2010. She's been the CEO of DHL consulting. Together with her team, they passionately guide global logistics executives to effectively tackle and overcome supply chain challenges. In her own words, as leaders, we cannot ignore the severe transformational changes this field is going through, which require us to rethink the way we do business, digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, Iot, drones, blockchain, and the circular economy will redefine the supply chain and logistics ecosystem beyond her logistics career. So I've been also considers the advancement of women in executive roles to be a fundamental requirement for business success. She is personally committed to help female leaders succeed and promote more diversity in management teams. Uh, without further ado, Sabine, welcome and admits a pleasure to have you with us today.

Speaker 2:1:28Hi,

Speaker 1:1:30super. So, um, I, I put together together together with the team the introduction for, for yourself. And, and, and to be fair, you've been and I need to pay you this compliment. You've been one of our most sought after speakers. So the amount of questions we got on the social media and the different channels has been mind blowing actually. So lots of people want to want to hear you and want to hear your thoughts, which is, which is great. And actually we had to streamline the questions because there were too many, so very glad that you made the time to be with us today. And, um, and maybe we can start by, you know, by sharing with our audience a little bit about yourself and how, you know, how did you end up yourself in, in, in supply chain and logistics, in consulting and, and a little bit about your story in the, in the industry.

Speaker 2:2:16I think the introduction was very good. You already did. So there's not much to add. I ended up in supply chain by some incidence. Um, so I started after university. I thought something complex is great and I always liked solving difficult mathematical questions and supply chain is difficult. So that's why I saw just, I don't end up consumer like all my friends. So. And that's why I decided to start a logistics and yeah, when I started I wasn't sure for how long, but now it's more than 20 years. So I think the industry got me and uh, I'm trying to excite many people about logistics because it's not about warehouses, it's not about packages only, it's about getting goods to customers and it's really interesting.

Speaker 1:3:14Okay. And then can you tell us a little bit about the, about digital consulting as well and in terms of what it does within the digital group?

Speaker 2:3:24So we are management and supply chain consultancy was around 150 consultants around to globe, so based out of Europe, Asia and the Americas. And what we do is around 80 percent. We consol, Deutsche Post and DHL divisions in a lot of different areas and 20 percent of our revenue we consult, um, external customers have like big Pharma technology, automotive customers to improve their supply chain and we will have our 20th anniversary soon. And um, we were founded like 20 years ago to, on the one side reduce consultancy costs because, you know, we're one of the big companies spending a lot of money with external consultancy. This was one reason, but the major reason was to have an area to attract talent, to have a very good point of sale for talents to join the group. What we do is teach them basic structuring and methodology skills. They all have the opportunity to see the different divisions and learn and then we develop the people into executive positions of school. So these are the two main areas. So one is consulting, drive change and the other one is a develop executives for children. Was of it works pretty well?

Speaker 1:4:50Yes, actually it's brilliant. It's through digital thinking. It's a very smart idea by, by digital as a group to come up with one, of course a lowering the cost of consulting which has never, never cheap and, and, and also building a very, very smart and, and, and developed a talent pipeline for, for the group. So interesting. And I didn't realize that you actually do you actually consult within the digital group. Eighty percent. So there's quite a large proportion of, of your, of your time and about 20 percent externally. So I thought it's, it's a, it's a little bit less, but great to great to know. Um, and, and within, if we had to talk a little bit in terms of the main challenges that you see and you tackle with, right, because as consultants you tackled with challenges and with problems and made me within the DHL group may be within your clients. What would you say that right now are? Some of the major topics are hot topics and hot problems that your clients face.

Speaker 2:5:47So one is the whole change of ultimization so changing and adapting to the business like processes. So the whole digitalization part is a huge one and as well driving the change in the organization that comes with it. So it's not only going in and bringing a bottle where hospitals are changing the processes, uh, changing people's behavior to, to really implement the technology. So that's one part, uh, when I think we will deep dive maybe later into this. The second one is still getting out costs. I think the logistics industry and supply chain industry is still a low margin industry and I think it will never ever change and being efficient in increasing our gp and Everett is always has always been a big topic for us and it's still there. So these are the two main things beyond the transition of the workforce and some of these topics, but I would also include them into the digitalization fit.

Speaker 1:6:55Yes. And we got actually we got a lot of questions and I think that if there was a common thread around the questions that a lot of people were, it was asking you is pretty much summarized in the, in the question from a Maori who, who's working actually here, the lead Lazada Group, which is a major market places in Southeast Asia as you know. And, and he was asking because there's a lot of talk about all these disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, block chain robots and all of that. But in, in reality a lot of good old excels are still handled by lower educated team leader and they're pretty pervasive, right? They're everywhere. So he was asking what's your thoughts in terms of practically what digital solutions are really applicable and mature today to boost up logistics performance.

Speaker 2:7:41So there is a lot. So a lot of technologies have matured in the last years that they can really boost our performance. So apis, one role you can, we use a lot of our back office processes but also in, in our operations to automate parts of processes to improve, improve quality, speed and also reduce costs. But there's a lot of technologies as well in the warehouses like various goods to mend solutions, voice and vision, picking autonomous forklifts. We also work a lot on projects to implement Iot, um, because I do think it will also have a massive impact, for example, fewer redelivery attempts, more dynamic and customized delivery services, optimized shipping, tracking. So these are all things that are enabled by technology and it's there yet and it's up to us and up to the divisions and up to our customers as well to implement it for it to get houses. And I think that's the most difficult one because we have non automated warehouses. And now the question is, do we start automating them? I'm building up Greenfield. A fully automated one is much easier than just taking legacy and try how you are going to change it.

Speaker 1:9:09If we were to go a little bit deeper because this is very interesting. I mean people are more into examples because let's talk about Rpa, robotic process automation and it's, it's, it's, it's a hot topic. It's something very practical and pragmatic. And before you talk about artificial intelligence and what not, I think RPA is here today and it's more and more companies that are doing it and maybe we can, we can go into without naming necessarily, uh, you know, it's if it's digital or somebody else, but could you give us some examples of how and where you applied it and if there were some pretty impressive cost saving or time saved or you know, what was some of the outcomes by using, for example, Rpa.

Speaker 2:9:47So we applied it in our invoicing process and we looked at many, many processes and found parts of the process where we like program to bought and now we are like our people are collaborating with the Bot so it's not that we have a full process our demise, but a lot of the repetitive tasks are now done by a Bot. So the people are doing the more valuable tasks and the Bot takes all the copying, looking in different systems. For example, if you want to see where your shipment, that's something a Bot can do. It's not necessarily a person who has to type in the number and find out where it is. So that's where we found and we have a significant saving there. So in the process steps we look at, you can save up to more than 30 percent in time or even men much more and also up to 30 percent in costs. I think what is very, very difficult or what we really have to look at what we do with the people and how do we redeploy and teach or educate people so that they are now doing the more valuable tasks. So fba will handle the rapid repetitive tasks and the employees focused more on exception handling or solution development and this is where we do have to try and some of the people in problem solving in communication to give them the opportunity as well to do the more value added tasks.

Speaker 1:11:22Yeah, and I think within that will be a very important topic of our discussion because there were a lot of questions regarding automation and what do we do with the people. So we'll get to that. In the podcast there was a lot of interest and it's, it's, it's highly relevant and I'm just, I'm, I'm just, I'm wondering like, uh, also back to the point with the excel because there's a, there's a hard reality to the, to the excel then the use of excel, which is still the number one tool for supply chain professionals use probably in the world and for good reasons, right. It's just, it's useful, but at the same time it has its limitations. But let's say that you were, you became the chief supply chain officer of a, I don't know if a major manufacturing company and um, and they were still a highly, highly deficient. That data was still on the excel then and you had two initiatives through key initiatives to drive. I mean, of course it's a very high level question and it's a without going into details, but what would, would you say that is the low hanging fruits that you would look at to, um, to optimize their supply chain and, and what would be the technologist that you would look at first? Because you know, there's a lot, there's a lot, you mentioned Rpa, you mentioned that a lot of things, but what would be your first steps?

Speaker 2:12:31Yeah, so low hanging fruits will be so off shoring off all the repetitive tasks and task, but you have to input data into systems. Doesn't have to be done in Germany in a time now where we don't have, we have labor shortage. This is something that can be done by a bot or on an offshore center. So I think what I would do first goes through the processees and offshore slash introduce RPA wherever it's possible. And this is the process. Increased quality and also takes, takes out a lot of um, a lot of costs. And I think these are low hanging fruits without investing in massive technology. Like whenever you go to atomization in warehouses, you have to invest in technology. However, that's as well an area I would look in, auto autonomous forklifts, things like this. It really makes it better.

Speaker 1:13:34Yes. And we had a question from slavery, which was, which was kind of, it's a big picture question, is like in his talking about digital logistics, right? So again, reality is still a lot of people are in excel, but then he's asking, you know, how about digital logistics because everybody's talking about digitalization or used to be talking. Now they talk about artificial intelligence, but you know, what he's asking, what's the end game for digital logistics and follow? Where's the disruption coming in and how do you see it?

Speaker 2:14:03Yeah, I think it's a very difficult question. So what is what his end game end game is very fancy. Um, I think I'll, uh, warehouses will be fully automated. There will be no humans. I think we're close to the possibility to do it already. I think there's a huge change component behind it. And as I said, logistics is a very low margin business. I think we still need to find where the investments come from. But I would say most of our operations will be automated. And that's one of the things. I also think that in an end game, if we talk about warehousing, you can also have a network of warehouses, so like we do have an express currently, but like companies won't own own warehouses, there will be providers and the providers, a logistics providers like using the data, the customers and we as Lucas signal logistics providers have, can predict where you might need to inventory and then we can bring the inventory even earlier closer to to the customers.

Speaker 2:15:20So you can also have warehouses in a network and the cloud logic where we currently have for data, it can also be, can also be applicable to physical movements. So that's something that's, that's ice. I think the whole thing, if we look about the end game, we need to think what about sharing economy? So I do see the new generation, I do see a lot of people are moving more and more into sharing, so sharing cars, sharing bikes, but you can choose how much more things and whenever you start thinking what you can share and how he would like to share it. It's logistics is logistics somehow involved. Um, so the whole sharing economy is at the beginning and we as leaders, my thing as well, like what about sharing economy and how can we as logistics hub with it, um, same thing as urbanization in many years, more than two thirds of the population will live in cities and I think you live in Singapore, it's already like difficult to, to really have um, the whole thing running in a, in a city and a lot of cities are close to collapse because of traffic because of logistics because of pollution.

Speaker 2:16:40And I think that's also like, that's also a big disruption can come and sustainability. I think that that's my biggest thing. We need to think and rethink how we do things because we all see that the importance of the planet and the climate change is something we as leaders as well need to think about and find solutions. So this is really, and this is really thought like some years from, from today,

Speaker 1:17:09and, and, and if you had to go, I think in the closer future there's a, there's a question very specific to how long before digitalization will help make the logistics process paperless to a large, to a large extent, closer, closer to, to, uh, you know, close in. A lot of people are wondering what the bill of lading and all of that you have blockchain, of course that is supposed to revolutionize everything. Uh, may or may not be the case. But I think it probably is. It's an interesting question to get to have you on.

Speaker 2:17:45No, I tried to get dhs concerning paperless. It took us one and a half years and we don't have any operations. We don't have excellent. We don't move goods. We are a consultancy and it took us, wanted to have years to be nearly paperless. And I think the problem with the IT systems problems where people don't want to change, um, and it's, we're all used. It's so secure if you have the paper and you can physically see it. So that it was the most difficult thing, even like a small company of 150 people doing like more intellectual work. It took us one and a half years to be paperless. So that gives you a little bit. I think it's sneak preview how long it will take to get the entire logistics industry paperless. It's, I think we, we can move, I think that technologies other, but I think it will take many, many more years before every single shipment is moved digitally in terms of all the processes of the papers.

Speaker 2:18:53However, I think fred platforms like the digital trade platforms and blockchain disrupt us and they pushed us. I think if you leave traditional logistics company, we will go on for the next 20 years, do it like we did in the last 20 years. However, I do think we need to be quicker. Um, and this new small entrance, like the freight platforms, they really, really push us to change and I'm happy that they exist and I hope they will push us even further. Um, so I think, yeah, that's something that will happen and I do think it might happen earlier than, than we started will happen and I hope that the small companies wake us up and push us to paperless process and I think what's the paperless process and digitizing some of the things we will have a better transparency on prices and the whole market will benefit from it.

Speaker 1:20:00And as you rightfully said, it's happening. There's a lot of disruptors out there, there's a lot of platforms out there, there's, there's a lot of private equity and venture capital firms investing in the, in the field. We've seen some massive investments which is basically just to say that is bound to be disrupted. It's just a matter of time. Um, and um, and then then we will see. But uh, again, uh, you know, to go fully paperless, I have one of, one of our close friends and connections is working for, for a large, a white goods manufacturer and he, he went paperless. But again, it took a few years in his team. So it's not easy. It's not an easy an easy task to do.

Speaker 2:20:39I think it's the same with the warehouses, it's much easier to build something up from scratch and to build up a digital platform from scratch is much easier than having legacy and trying to move legacy systems, legacy processes into a paperless or a digital world. And that's a little bit with what we as the traditional players a little bit struggling with and that makes things so, so difficult.

Speaker 1:21:10And the kind of a leeway into the next question because, um, you, we touched upon this a at the beginning as well, and there's a good question from Max Sullivan who was wondering in terms of the question, what to outsource and what to develop in house in terms of digitalization project is a fundamental question really. And uh, and uh, it's, it's a struggle always to kind of take this call or it's not an easy choice necessarily. So what would be your, your thoughts in terms of what is so vital that you would, may, you may, you know, you really want to do it in house and what would you outsource to a third party?

Speaker 2:21:51There's no real black or white answer to it. Tend to, it's a, it's a really good question. So what we differentiate and maybe that's, that's a good thing to start answering the question with differentiated between a small. I recall it. So that's everything on automation automation. So small. I digitalization projects less disruption is everything where you automate it. That's the whole thing. We talked about, we talked about RPA bots, autonomous vehicles and all these things and then we differentiate it. So we said big guy on new business models, so this is what really will disrupt our model where we have the foreboding business in x years or will this be a digital platform? So what are business models that disrupt us or data is data and new stream, how do we handle data, how can we. And I think there were some questions in the deck as well, like we have the data more can we do with smaller is automation and big guy is new business models and if I would like differentiator would say smallest automation there.

Speaker 2:23:06We work with technology partners and I think that's, that's very important. And I think you did a podcast with Mathias hotcakes. Well, who is really the whole innovation part that we work with partners, so we work with partners to come up with autonomous vehicles for our warehouses or bonds. Collaborative bots are normal bonds and I think that's something where we work with partners to come up with the technology or to to invent a built a technology we then implement in our warehouses and I think a lot of these implementation capabilities we need to have internally because we need to scale and we need to be able to really go into different warehouses to do it. So I think the thinking part is a lot with externals in a terms of joint venture or partnership model and implementation internally new. So I think it's very important and we built this expertise of the last years to have capabilities on Rpa power bi.

Speaker 2:24:08You work content concepts internally that you, you are not so dependent on money but on the other side I think knowledge networks or skills bought externally is important as well. And we India child consulting as well have the mix between our own employees and we work with x tunnels to match the capabilities. And find the right team for the right problem and what will be different. So for the big eyes. So for the new business models, we work much, much more with external companies, so we have a partnership with plug and play or in Germany's a startup out of band where we regularly meet startups where we regularly interact with startups where we screen stops together with the company to think about the disruption and think about like where's the change with the new business model, what are things we need to try out? We also have this internally. We have a kind of a startup where we internally push ideas and invest in ideas coming out of out of our people employees. However, for the big I, I do see much more dependency and much more interaction or benefits of the Anti actuals excellence.

Speaker 1:25:24Yes. It's interesting. I remember when I was, uh, talking about materials when I was in, in your innovation center and we spoke about the electric vehicle, that and he was telling me the story where you invested in the startup initially and then you support the startup. And I think now a digital. Actually owns a very significant stake in DHL is obviously the biggest client of that particular startup and you're rolling out and you're selling the electric vehicles to other postal operators in the world, which is, which is a great example of how to kind of help build a startup and then help grow it as well and become a, become a product in itself. And so

Speaker 2:26:07tell us a little bit about. It also goes back to the whole sustainable aspect. I think we as a huge company as DHL are also responsible to do something or to really focus on the emission topic. Yes, we do something there and we all need to put this as a priority on our agenda.

Speaker 1:26:35I mean, like you said, sustainability is the one of the end games for digitalization, which I could not agree person anymore. And I think a lot of people are very clear on that. Um, and, and coming to the point where the startups in the ecosystem in ways of working with the startups, because there's always this kind of debate as well. And there's a lot of corporates that have tried it in terms of, okay, how can we disrupt ourselves and that that usually fails for a very simple, simple. The reason that people within the business, I find it very difficult to see how to disrupt themselves is like a is like almost a paradox, right? They would not see because it's maybe too obvious, but they used to doing business in a certain way and then what we've seen more and more in these cases also what you're sharing with detail and there's other companies that are doing it, they invest in startups so they incubate startups to almost to disrupt their own business model and then leave them alone so that it seems to work better in terms of creativity, innovation and culture. Because a lot of times it's very difficult to nurture this culture of innovation within an existing structure that is quite, you know, quite set in its ways already. And then basically they start, that becomes an entity of its, of its own and can take life of its own. So I'm just wondering if you can share, because I think, I mean the question was how can you basically worked best with startups and how can you best corporate partner incubate, take a stake or what's your views on that?

Speaker 1:28:03Again,

Speaker 2:28:06it's difficult and I think we're still figuring, trying to figure out the right way to do it. Um, I think as many big companies or corporations, we also tend to take the startup and put all our processes, buffet, so like investment process these and these are rules and this makes it very difficult for small startups to survive. So I think that's, that's a difficult one because we, we're so governed and too much governance can kill start ups. So that's the one thing. The other thing is what you said, it's left alone somewhere and we don't use the synergy. So the power of customer interactions, whatever we have is not transferred to the startup. So I think both areas or both options are not good. What we did last year, I think this has been through the press. We have a new department is also headed by months of Gill v WHO's our head of hr.

Speaker 2:29:07It's a incubations, so we have a body pattern. We say this is an area where we incubate and street scooter, that's the electric vehicle we just talked about is one part of this incubation you and we want to see and develop a concept and as well see how we can fund it, um, to incubate even more and better because you know, how it is whenever you get pressure in terms of a bird in terms of results. And as I said, like you just still low margin industry, the money for incubation or you spent into new ideas or try just shrinks and shrinks and shrinks. So I think it's always a discussion and we're still discussing it in the board, how to set the incubation unit up. Um, yeah, and I'm happy if you have best or you have an experience you can or one of the listeners can share with me. But um, yeah, so currently we try to put money aside and to also do something and don't overkill to startup but also sees that they are integrated into a

Speaker 1:30:23cosmos or whatever. It actually, there is a good example and we had the CEO on the, it's a, it's a company called, which you may know is part of mercy, so it's incubated by mercy and the story of twitter was that they kind of set it up in a basement somewhere in Berlin. So it was, um, it was some sort of a hecket lawn and in some ways, but Morris has funded will all along and the CEO had joined us previously on the podcast and he showed a little bit of the story which is very, very interesting. But indeed it was that fine balance because now too is really gaining momentum is two or three years in and it's getting a lot of momentum and a lot of clients are finding it very useful. But for the, for the patrols is the CEO, it was a fine line in terms of how to convince and how to keep getting the support from the management of when potentially at the beginning of the, the results are not necessarily there, but luckily he managed to do that and at the same time they're working on those partnerships, clients and, and uh, and so on, to leverage on the group.

Speaker 1:31:25So in some ways it's almost like a very well taken care of baby of the group, but it would be just left alone operate alone. So that makes it successful because it doesn't have to follow too much a corporate governance and, and all of those type of processes. So they may manage to, it needs one success story that, that, that I know there's not a lot to be truthful. There's not a lot. I think there is, like you've rightfully mentioned there is this temptation or just reality of the big, big companies that they have a lot of governance and processes and compliance that they try to stipulate. It kind of ends up stiffening the startup, which, which is, uh, which is a challenge, but, you know, in, in some ways what I've also seen work in a couple of cases specifically for Southeast Asia, we're companies invest in a model that disrupts them, uh, to a stake of 20, 30, 40 percent, not, not too overly.

Speaker 1:32:15It's not a point where they buy over, but basically they kind of investing in the future disruptor in their, in their line. And then, uh, then if something does happen and it picks up, then they can have a kind of a backup plan. So that also has, has worked. Um, but typically what I have seen failures indeed when the company, when the bigger a MNC, we'll try to put the culture inside the startup, then typically that would tie to try to integrate too tightly the startup, then it will typically fail. Um, and also just as another example, because you prompted me, I was, and I'm going to give them as a good example, ing, which as you know is a bank, right? There's a Dutch bank. Uh, they uh, they are number one or two or pretty much to global leaders in trade financing and they started the lab which specifically focuses on trade and logistics because they want to be able to offer their clients in trade finance is, and obviously their financial institution, but they want to offer them also services related to maybe trade or logistics or compliance or other things. So they're investing in startups that offer that suit of services and they, uh, they are exploring how they can offer additional, uh, additional services to the, to their clients. So he's the same suits of clients, different services. So again, very interesting model. I hope they will be successful. They've invested in a few startups already. Um, so yeah, definitely a lot of people are trying it more, more or less successful the. So it seems to be a trend.

Speaker 2:33:37Yeah, I think was our new incubation unit. We try to just build what you just said, like a board member being interested in it. So like high level stakeholders in the group being really involved and on the other side, giving them more freedom to grow as well was not just putting them into like divisional structure targets and so on. However, I think we, we need to ask ourselves what was the question, which are the innovations we really have to drive and where do we waited? Copy with pride.

Speaker 1:34:17Yeah. It has to be practical. It has to be. Yeah. It's like it's a good point and I'm happy that you were. You were quite open to share it because it is a reality. It is a reality of the business and obviously when you have the scale you can also copy with pride and we have a very, very clear example in nowadays social media, right? Instagram pretty much took a feature of snap when facebook fail to when Steph had decided not to accept facebook software to buy them if you know, they basically copied a certain feature so it's effect.

Speaker 2:34:54That's why startups fail as well because like everybody waits until they have a really good idea that sells and then copies and laughing. That's, that's cool.

Speaker 1:35:05That works as well. Um, and, and if you had to come back to the topic of skills and people replacement and it's a very hot topic. I think that a lot of people are talking about it, you know, it's a reality, artificial intelligence, RPA, automation, all these technologies that are coming up quite rapidly will displace people and we'll basically make away with certain jobs, usually low skilled jobs, usually repetitive tasks. Usually I like phrase that, that the, I think it was a phrase that RPA takes the robot out of the human, not the human out of the job, but basically what it means is that repetitive automated, the mine, the mindless tasks will be taken away. Um, so what do we do with the people? I mean how will we, and I'm sure that you are, it's a hot topic for debate also in India and also for governments, but what's your view on this if we have to go a little bit deeper?

Speaker 2:36:08I think on the one side we already miss people. So we have, um, in, in many markets like us, Mexico and Germany, we are really struggling to get stuff for warehouses and terminals. You'll read about like truck driver, we are missing track drivers. So in many countries we are pushed to digitize, to automate because we, we don't, we really have problems too to get people. So this is on the one side and that's something we discussed with our Mexico team. I was like, Sabina, we need the digitalization. I don't like in Mexico there's full employment. We're really like, we're in competition with all the consumer and retail companies. Don't get the people so we need to be quicker. So that's one officer saying so on that, on the one side, um, so there's growth in the industry and you know, that the logistics industry is growing like hell and it will grow.

Speaker 2:37:12There's a lot of growth in the industry and we might not be able to solve for this. So out of my automation will just help to solve this problem. So that's the first case. The second one is yes, if we looked like 10, 15 years, we, we need different skills. And I think that's where we as leaders, but we as, as well as, as, as company leaders need to start earlier and I think something we're doing is we define them. So you clusters in our organization, um, for example, old people who deal with was data processing and then we trace of relevant technologies back to this classes and say, okay, what classes do we have and what are the technologies that will disrupt this cluster or we can apply in this cluster. Um, and then we like make a hypothesis how many jobs will be influenced and how we can upskill the people we don't need anymore to take over some of the other jobs that will evolve because it was FDA, we will have people who train the box, we will have people who look at security.

Speaker 2:38:29So there are new jobs coming up with technology as well. So do we have people we can train and upskill for value adding tasks or what I said before in the APA. So then handling exceptions or talking to customers or can upskill the people for these skills or can I either upskilled people for, for a new job coming up. So that's on the one side and I think that's something we really highly have to invest in. We have to start something like a lifelong learning concept and we need to teach people and we also need to take the fear away from our people that change or technology something bad and we have to get into a more diy where everybody learns on a continuous basis. So it's not like two, one or two days like a, um, a classroom training. It's a continuous learning on the job every week, every day, um, to, to make the change. And we ultimately to be. I think this, this is another thing, like we need to be clear with skills we need, we can't develop our people into and go to the market and try to get the right experts for it. So this will be all the things on data scientists and where we really need to be in the market and see that, that we, we really go and um, yeah, solstice, this capabilities.

Speaker 1:40:00I'm very happy that you mentioned that for that the Morgan Phillips is an excellent executive search for them and feel free to contact us but, but joking aside though, maybe half joke, half of reality, but it is, it is a, it is in such high demand data analytics and data and machine learning and that type of programming skills are becoming such high demand and it's such cross industries actually that I've, uh, we have seriously considered setting up a branch just just doing that. And we are in the process of doing that because that type of fundamental skills that will cross all industries because it's all going to be about data right then. And this is why we're talking about this digitalization. So we have accurate data and then we can analyze and improve and um, and the look at the processes within the organization and see what's, what's, what's working and what's not. But this data analytics in a skill skillset is just fundamental and it's so hard to find, and this is typically, it's almost like, you know, if you have a, if you follow football or Bundesliga if you have a Christiana Ronaldo or Messi, uh, if they are available on the market, this 10:20 teams that want to get them. So it's kind of the same with this kind of skill set. There's 10 or 20 companies that want to hire them. So it's, it's almost a no brainer. So, um, yeah, it's interesting that doesn't skills have become so,

Speaker 2:41:18but it comes back to like a question of our education system and I think that's another source. So I think we always talk very positive about it. So we have industry grows. That's true. We also upscale our people, but on the other side there are unskilled workers currently and they won't have drops in the future. So I think education training is something that's coming more and more. It's coming more and more important and I think politics and so companies need to start earlier. So like what do you learn at school today? Is it the right skills that school already prepares you for this? Do we get more data scientist? Uh, educated? I don't think so. If I look at the German education system, it's still pretty much the same. I had like 30, 35 years ago. So I think that's where we also have to push and I think that's where politics have to push, but we as companies also have to push and say they don't, we have to start early on change because the change is not taking 15, 20 years like it took years ago. Changes coming so quickly and we don't have the time anymore to wade and discuss to react. I'm not sure how you see this. It's

Speaker 1:42:41an, it's an excellent point in the. I'm very actually, I'm very proud than I think Singapore, Singapore has or is coming close to finding a solution and there's other pockets. So we, I was speaking to some Yossi Sheffi who was, who was, um, it was a part of the Mit Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he is a very big advocate for, for online courses and online learning and making it available. And I think he's a whole, uh, is not very popular at Mit, but his whole kind of discourse is, look, why are we charging so much money for, for students to be in debt by the time they leave school and it should be something that one, it should be more accessible to people that education should be accessible. Then at the same time, knowledge is one thing. And, and basically learning stuff is one thing, but acquiring that skill or mindset of continuous learning is another thing.

Speaker 1:43:30So you're spot on. I could not agree more personally and what they're doing here in Singapore. And I'm actually thinking of getting some, uh, somebody on the podcast to talk more. It's kind of like a, it's called the threefold agreement are threefold approach where education and academia comes together with the government and the organizations, the companies, the MNCS and basically get their input on what type of course is what type of skills, what type of curriculum, how do we make it more practical? And they actually implemented. So it's, it's quite mind boggling and okay. Singapore. So being, being small, I think they have a lot of 'em and they're very fast and they're very agile to implement it. So I've seen that in the 10 years that I've been here and I've seen certain skills is that it didn't even exist or even blogging courses and stuff like that.

Speaker 1:44:15They started to have them the moment they became asked for by the MNCS. So I think that's something that more and more countries and governments and educational ministries should push for this type of open discussion. And like you rightfully said, don't wait. I mean, what's, what's in there to wait. I mean nowadays, you know, you have google, wikipedia, you can pretty much, you know, train yourself on a lot of things and you don't really need to memorize stuff. And then unfortunately, I don't know, I'm coming from Romania originally in my country is, it's still a pretty much kind of memorization on certain things, which is really, I don't find it useful at all. So, um, yeah, that shift has to happen in education, in that mindset of continuous learning. No matter if you're 50, 60, 70, whatever it is, because that's the way to stay relevant. Really.

Speaker 2:45:04Yeah, and I think it's a big opportunity because there are so many new things and you can be ahead of the curve and start off being one auto for lot was having the old scales, so I think people also need to see it as a chance or an opportunity and say okay, I just go somewhere totally different, train myself and just try out a fully new new area. Yes, change is difficult and like, do you know how it is it so difficult to take the fear away from people that change is something good rather than they will lose their job or whatever. So that's also a big area we as leaders have to talk about and I think we talk so much about technologies. We talked so much about Iot and all the technologies and how to implement them. We only take like two percentage of the discussion is like how do we get the people there? How do we not lose them? How do we take the fear from the people that change will bring something back to them and uh, I think that's something we still don't spend enough time on that

Speaker 1:46:12excellent point. And I, I remember I asked exactly sort of the same question at the prison other, I was at the conference in Shanghai and not, not too long ago presenting and then one of the speakers before me, but I presented on all this transformation. I will not name the company, but it was, you know, that the incredible digital transformation that they had done and you know, everything is wonderful. And I was like, you know, I was going to have a little bit skeptic but okay, listen through. And then I said, yeah, but it's interesting that you didn't mention at all about people, right? You mentioned about how you implemented all these technologies, but at the end of the day, no matter how fancy your technology is, if the people who resisted it will fail. So I, you know, I asked him, I would be interested, how did you do your change management?

Speaker 1:46:51Because at the end of the day, that's what makes or breaks a transformation. So then he, you know, he made the point that indeed people were essentially and all of that. But it's, it's, it's, it's, it's funny how so, so many companies, and I'm sure you've seen this over and over again, and uh, especially in the consulting framework where you are external to the company, they tried to change the technology, but they really don't take care of the people. They don't take care of the mindset that don't get people on board of why is that relevant and important and how will it help them and the organization moving forward. And then of course it fails and they are very surprised that it failed. Why did it fail? But that's kind of a one on one principle, fundamental change management and take care of the people to be on board type of thing. Right. So, um, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's interesting.

Speaker 1:47:42But uh, but also, uh, kind of, we actually had a question regarding you and talk about continuous learning and development because obviously you're a busy, busy person, you manage a company, you manage a large team and, and, and Rita was asking how do you manage to keep up with, with so many, you know, how do you keep learning, you know, so many use cases for digitalization, so many new trends, so many new things coming up, startups and so on and so forth. So how do you kind of managed to stay sane while reading, learning, working, researching, consulting, managing businesses. So how do you keep a balancing all of this? Yeah,

Speaker 2:48:18it's a great question and I think I haven't found the right balance but I think that started was like sleep for years ago when I started to just started with like social media and started to mix a little bit like work, live and everything. So I started to read a lot on linkedin. I started twitter, I started reading articles before I said like these are the skills. And um, we did, I did like 80 percent classroom trainings and I read like magazines whenever I had time and then that was like a full magazine and you never really had time to weed through it. So I started with smaller nuggets that doesn't bring you that deep, that's for sure. However, it keeps you up where the discussion is and whenever you saying that's something you can still buy, like buy a book or an article, a deep dive.

Speaker 2:49:25So the whole social media, the whole discussion brought me at least where the paces and where the discussion is and much more to a level where I can talk with everybody. And then when I saying okay, Iot is something that's, that's very, that's very important. That's something I, I deep dive. So that's one point. The second one is we changed significantly in DHR consulting. Say we want to stay ahead of the curve and we would like to help Dr Foster in the whole digitalization automazation area and push for it. And we would like to try things because we're a small, small unit. We're 150 people. We are all young. So if we can change, how could a huge company changed? Um, so this helped me a lot and in all our projects we see learn a lot. Um, I forced myself out of my comfort zone to go regularly to conferences.

Speaker 2:50:20Um, that's where you also have good discussion on a gardiner conference. Um, so there, there are many things I still struggle, um, how to put it all together, but I think that's, that's where it started and I would also like my recommendation to everybody would start small, start 10 minutes every day rather than wait for the time where you have a full load two days to go for training because that's what you will always post partum. So just don't post palm because you don't have time to start small. And I think there are so many good concepts on micro learning where you will have an APP. So whenever you at the doctor's and Wade you have 15 minutes you can easily learn. So I, for example, use linkedin learning on my mobile phone. So there are sometimes times we wait for a plane. So there's sometimes times where you really can, can just spend some time to learn things and read things and I think I'm a podcast junkie as well, so I like to listen to podcasts and there are so many good out there and you ever put this give you an institute, gives you an inspiration or an inflammation.

Speaker 2:51:29So

Speaker 1:51:31that's, that's it. Super. Thanks for that. Thanks for sharing. And I'm your friend Charles Brewer, um, wanted to do, ask the question about diversity and it's a topic that I know is very close to your, to your heart. And Charles is our friends actually. And um, and he was uh, he was asking in terms of diversity in the logistics sector because it's been a sector that's been quite a, let's say, more. No colored for a long time. Why is it taking so long is asking and what should boards do to accelerate it?

Speaker 2:52:08I think it's a difficult question because there's no single easy answer to it. Yeah. So it's not like this is a problem, you need to do this or this. It's a long journey. And I'm talking about gender diversity because I think one of the first issues is that when we talk about diversity, we, at least at tpg, him make it very broad. So we say, oh, diversity for us as gender, it's age, it's nationalities, it's background. So, and that's true. That's diversity. However, the bigger and more complicated you make it more difficult, is it to measure it and improve it. So if I talk about diversity in this case, I talk about gender because I think that's still the biggest problem or that's the biggest thing where we really have to improve. Um, and I think the first thing where I think the problem start is that we as management don't take it serious a serious enough.

Speaker 2:53:10And I think we talked about all the things going on in our industry and I, we talked about all the targets to digitize, to improve margins and an answer. So many, uh, thanks on our pro agenda. There's so much pressure to deliver that. Forcing diversity is something we always put on. Yes, we need to do this as well. And I've been my own experience. I have. And we need to do it, but, uh, currently we don't have time at the same restraining, so, Oh yes, I know that I need to do it, but I don't have time to do it. And I think if we don't change this, it will be really difficult to make a difference if we don't hold our management accountable and say like that's measure improvements or let's at least have a KPI measuring it. It will not happen because I don't see any big difference in the last 10 years in terms of having women in executive sessions.

Speaker 2:54:08So that's one on the other side I've seen in my own organization. So I started around 10 years ago and my management team was German. They were all German and they were all male and they were all in the same age between, I don't know, I do fight and uh, it took me 10 years to change it. So it is a, it's a marathon. So it's nothing that you can change within like a very short time. It's like a continuous work. It's a continuous challenge of all the steps from attracting, tailored to select them, to retain them and to promote them. And we worked very hard and in each of the steps we had a huge bias in, in recruiting. So we had a process that was just discriminating more introverted or not so confident people. So we changed the whole process. We changed who interviews, we trained our people on this mini me effect that people love to see people who are the same.

Speaker 2:55:17So there were many, many measures we had to come up with a more diverse workforce. But if you don't push right, it will not have. We, um, last year we got 25 percent out of our 7,000 applications were female, so that's where it starts. So the industry seems not to be sexy for women and if you have only 25 percent of the applications, that's where it's already started, that you only hire 25 to 30 percent women and this done, we'll never change. So that's one. So one is I think the management doesn't really take it seriously. Um, but also I think with ms dot role models and if we attract women, it's still a male dominated culture and you work a lot with logistics. It's also sometimes not a female integrating culture and like I think we can talk hours about this and I sometimes women as well need to be bolder, more confident and push themselves into deck to be invisible. So no,

Speaker 1:56:33yeah, like it's, it's, it's a, it's a big, it's a big topic. And what I'm seeing from where recruitment and executive search perspective definitely a, it kind of resonates with what just you're sharing. However, on the startups, and again it's kind of normal I guess on the startups and we work with the startups. It's companies that have received with between 50 to 100 million or 200 million and they're quite, they're quite aggressive in their growth plans but they do put this as a top priority and there it's easier in many ways is the same. You know, when you start to, like you rightfully said when you start the greenfield project is easier to build the automated warehouses then to transform a brown field project. So we do see a lot in the newer organizations that when they hide, they do hire with this principles in mind and basically they are much more diverse from the beginning, which tends to be easier than, than, uh, than the other way around.

Speaker 1:57:25Um, and at the same time and at the same time. Yes. What you said with the industry, definitely there's a, there's a bias in terms of gender resonance just in, as, in maybe in fashion. There's these, the other way around maybe 25 percent of the applicants are male and 75 women, I'm not sure. Right. But this hasn't industries which have certain preponderance, but I think it's improving overall. It's improving and then we need examples like yourself. Sabine Been, and I think you're, you're very outspoken and good leader to um, to prove to, to kind of show that it can be done in a very good way. And that's also important to have role models, isn't it? So, um, so I think that's key. And the, and also, yeah, senior management needs to, in some of these boards, let's not name anybody but some of these boards definitely need to make sure that they have some more women in boards and uh, and that they're more diverse.

Speaker 1:58:13So I think that will bring a lot of more different opinions and different ways of doing things and maybe also that pressure towards only money bottom line and, and delivery might be a little bit better in terms of integrating it with those who are taking care of the people side. So being a little bit ambitious and maybe a many be delusional, but I think it would help. So, um, um, so yeah, so I'll, I'll, I'll close that off topic for now because indeed we can talk for hours on that. I wanted to kind of start wrapping it up, but I wanted to ask you in terms of issuer to look back in your career and you've had a very, very fruitful one and you've been for a long time with DHL. What would be one or two pieces of advice that you received, um, that, that, that you would want to share with somebody listening to this, to this podcast maybe starting in their own careers and that really helped you become obviously very successful and now the CEO of a very important business?

Speaker 2:59:14Yeah, I think the one that really, personally it helped me a lot was that, uh, somebody told me that I need to move out of my comfort zone to grow. You really need to push yourself into an area we will fear to go. So we always said like, that's your comfort zone. Then you have the learning zone and if you go out of the learning zone, you have the panic zone. So you need to push yourself close to this, panics on. And I think that's where you really grow. Um, I think that that's something that helped me a lot and I tend to. And I think a lot of people tend to stay in the comfort zone because that's nice. That's, that's where you feel comfortable and that's where you are good in. However, I think that's something that was really, really, that really made a difference to me.

Speaker 2:60:09And the second one is something I needed to learn because I was just raised, grown up differently. Um, and that's the one you get what you have the courage to ask for and I think I sometimes should have told people earlier what my vision would have been. Um, and even if it's bold because that's what people do. And I think that's great. And I think that's the coming back to the agenda discussion that where women are not so good in as many people just said like, I want to do this job. Yes, I'm not ready yet, but like keep it in mind. I want to be a CEO over there and I were to take over this. Um, even if it's five steps too far, it just takes. Rather than saying, Oh yeah, no, I have to go back and maybe I have to learn a little bit like people and ask for what you want and you will be. I think I was. I'm always astonished how much you get, if you have, if you ask for it,

Speaker 1:61:14I will, I will be very curious and I'll just, uh, and I think it's also for the benefit of the audience and is it triggered me when you said this, uh, also in terms of having the courage and I remember that we had another great female leader on our show and was the head of supply chain for engineering here in APEC and she was saying that a male or apply for a job being 60 percent ready for it was the female might, uh, might wait until she's 120 percent and then apply for a job. And it made me wonder because at that point in time I didn't really think about it. Uh, also me being a guy. Right? But it kind of made sense in retrospect and also based on all my experiences afterwards and it, it, it, it kind of links to your point that you need to be bold, right? And you need to ask for what you want and need to tell people what you want. And I just, I was thinking maybe can you give one example of where it made a lot of difference for you in your, in your career? So that we make it, you know, it would be, I mean, I'm curious. Basically. I'm very curious to hear

Speaker 2:62:15in general for my career. I think going back to consulting and taking over Detroit. So I've been in, uh, in consulting, so I started, uh, as, as everybody else, the university, that's where I learned a lot and I went into the line function and I found out that I think it would be, I would love to take over the lead for the HR consulting. And I told my boss at that time that that's what I think I can do on this, what I would do would like to do. And then it happened some, some, uh, like a year or one and a half years later. So that, that was one of the things, um, it took a while. But, uh, I'm not sure if I would have been considered because I left as a successor if I would not have told anybody before. So that's, that's one of the sample.

Speaker 1:63:10Yeah, I mean it's a good example and a lot of times people just assume or, or pray or I don't know, I hope that they would, that somebody would read their minds or they would, um, would realize what they want without saying it though, without making it specific or without asking for it as you rightfully said. So yeah, it's, um,

Speaker 2:63:33it does do a good job and day Xml, content wise, they will recognize and be promoted and that's not how, how it mostly works. I think you work in this field and I think excelling and doing a great job and going the extra mile is great, but sometimes it's not enough.

Speaker 1:63:54Exactly. Exactly. I mean it's, the bigger the organization, of course it's about people, it's about, it's about relationships, it's about the, it's about the way you conduct yourself. And of course it's about having results. So it's a kind of a combination. And um, and indeed the, some people, uh, some people are maybe a little bit a unified, but it's, it's all of these that come together that make a successful career because it is ultimately about people, people skills. So, um, so yeah, so great point and something. Thank you for. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your sharing. Some, some excellent examples and I hope and I trust that this will be one of those podcasts like you mentioned, that people will listen to and the end find it valuable and I really appreciate also your, a straightforward witness and an openness to share some of the because there's been some quite hard topics that we discussed about in a very open manner. So I really appreciate that. And um, yes, the look forward to look forward to the next, next sketchup and then keep up the good work. A digital consulting.

Speaker 2:64:57Thank you so much. Rather.

Speaker 3:64:59Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you liked what you heard, be sure to follow us on [inaudible] dot com slash podcast for all the show notes, links and extra tips covered in the interview. Make sure also to subscribe to our mailing list to get the news in the nick of time. If you're listening through a three platform like itunes or stitcher and you're like what we do, please kindly and give us five stars so we can keep the energy flowing and get more people to find out about our podcast. I'm most active on Linkedin, so do feel free to follow me to stay tuned for all latest articles as well as future guests for the podcast, and if you have any suggestions or any other idea, please feel free to write to me. I respond to all and also please make sure not to miss our next episode where we will be having a few other c level and top leaders in supply chain joining us. Stay tuned.

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