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Young logistics talent

Career Boost

Being a junior manager at DB Schenker means exciting tasks, international work and good promotion prospects. Two young professionals from the air and rail freight sectors talk about their experiences

The MD-11F turns onto the apron and taxis into position. The aircraft engines are turned off with a short hiss. Just for a moment, everything is silent at Europe’s largest airfreight hub, Frankfurt/Main airport. And then the door to the upper deck of the freighter opens; the mobile hydraulic platform is ready to unload the goods. One pallet after the other slides out of the three-engine aircraft, many of them filled with fruit and vegetables, others stacked with automotive components. Small towing vehicles whizz past, loaded with consignments on their way to connecting flights or to the nearby Lufthansa Cargo Center where they are transshipped to be transported by road to their final destination.

Enlarge imageAleksandra Raba and Baris Burmahanli in front of cargo plane, DB AG

This is the world of Baris Burmahanli. He works in the Global Air Freight department of DB Schenker Logistics in Essen. The 30-year-old has traveled to Frankfurt to introduce his colleague, Aleksandra Raba, age 27, to his logistical cosmos. She has taken the S-Bahn, the local commuter train, to their meeting point on the apron. Her desk is only a few kilometers away, in an old historical brick building belonging to DB Schenker Rail. 

Burmahanli squints in the glaring morning sun as he watches the unloading process and tells Aleksandra Raba about the progress being made with regard to eFreight. Over the course of just a few years, this initiative has enabled many airfreight consignments to be handled paper-free. It took Burmahanli and Raba even less time to reach their current career positions. And just like “eFreight,” they have yet to get to the end of the road. It just goes to show that talented young logistics experts enjoy tremendous prospects at DB Schenker! “I first got hooked on the international world of business while temping in Turkey,” says Bur­mahanli, whose wife also works at DB Schenker. The son of immigrants was born and grew up in Wesel. Once he had graduated in economics and administration with a vocational diploma and completed his alternative community service, he wanted to become better acquainted with the land of his forefathers. “During my time in Turkey I decided to enroll in a bachelor course in logistics management at Arnhem in the Netherlands.” He learned of the trainee program “Talents@DB Schenker Logistics” just before completing his degree. After sending in his application, he was asked to complete an online test; this was followed by a phone interview and an invitation to an assessment center. Just one week later he received their response: “Accepted!”

Trainee programs at DB Schenker

– Talents@DB Schenker Logistics –
During the 18-month program for university graduates, participants gain insights into all business divisions, from airfreight and ocean freight to contract logistics and supply chain management up to IT and human resources. Assignments abroad are an integral part of the training program. More about Talents@DB Schenker Logistics

– euroTRAIL –
The focus of this 18-month program for university graduates is on rail logistics. Participants develop a trainee plan together with a tutor, enabling them to specialize in any of the following fields: production, IT, marketing & sales, finances & controlling or human resources. Working on an international scale with colleagues in the subsidiaries is an important part of the program. More about euroTRAIL...

– Talents national –
The program is designed for graduates from universities, vocational colleges/cooperative state universities and the German Foreign Trade and Logistics Academy (DAV). The course, lasting 18 months to two years, involves three to four modules in different (head office) departments or branches. “Talents national” qualifies participants for eight possible careers ranging from innovation/projects over road transportation to sales. More about Talents national...

The 18-month trainee program began in the “target department,” Burmahanli’s current airfreight team in Essen. After a brief stint at the European transshipment warehouse at Frankfurt Airport, he was deployed to San Francisco for nine months. While there, he provided support for the contract logistics team and a key account manager. “It was an incredibly exciting time. Our customer was a major high-tech player.” Aleksandra Raba nods in agreement when Baris Burmahanli gives his verdict: “The trainee program was the ideal start for me!”

Burmahanli has risen in the ranks and is project manager in the Operational Competence Center, where he supports the organization of airfreight consignments. “I’m responsible for the SOPs, standard operating procedures, with which the branch offices have to comply,” he says. In his spare time, Burmahanli likes to play soccer and is the goalkeeper in DB Schenker’s corporate sports team. “Apart from that, I’m also the contact partner when operative processes need to be incorporated into the IT system.”

Gaining an insight into Aleksandra Raba’s working world means driving a few kilometers from the airport in a southwesterly direction to the train formation depot in Mainz-Bischofs­heim. Equipped with their obligatory Hi-Vis vests and hardhats, the two young professionals watch as a shunting locomotive pulls tank wagons and open freight cars loaded with tree trunks up a hump. Once it reaches the crest of the hump, the cars are uncoupled. “Marshaling by way of a shunting hump is an old system, but it’s still effective,” says Raba. In the meantime, one car after another rolls back down with a slight screech onto its destination track, one of a total of 22 tracks where the cars here are assembled into trains. At the same time, a freight train rattles past, its open wagons loaded with brand new automobiles.

Enlarge imageAleksandra Raba and Baris Burmahanli at a switch yard, DB AG

Aleksandra Raba works in the IT department at DB Schenker Rail. “It’s the nervous system of the organization because this is where all processes converge.” The young woman from Warsaw studied international management. She first came into contact with the IT sector during an internship, and this tipped the scales for her career path. Three and a half years ago she met a German while on a student exchange in Greece and it was love that motivated her to move to Berlin. Having learned German at school, she now speaks the language perfectly, as if she had grown up here.

Following her master’s degree, she joined the DB Schenker Rail’s “euroTRAIL” trainee program to launch her career. “For me it was the most international of entries into professional life,” she says. In November 2013, Aleksandra Raba – like Baris Burmahanli – joined the company at what would later become her place of work. From there, “euroTRAIL” assigned her to Brussels and later to Hanover, one of the largest marshaling yards in Germany. She then moved to Frankfurt, where she worked for the IT and communications service provider DB Systel, before heading to Zabrze in Poland. “My job there involved helping a local manager introduce the IT systems,” she explains to her colleague. “I gained a lot of insight into what it means to implement a new system in another country.”

Aleksandra Raba, who received an open-ended contract not long ago, admits that she likes to look at train formation depots while on vacation, most recently in Portugal. “My team, the IT Multi Project Management, is responsible for coordinating projects.” One of the topics is Netzwerkbahn, others include the “Empty Wagon Disposition System” (EWDS) and the “European Order Management” (EOM). “A major project at the moment is Logistics 4.0: creating a uniform IT solution for all European countries.”Although their day-to-day tasks might differ, Aleksandra Raba and Baris Burmahanli have one thing in common: both are keen to achieve more and both are convinced that having DB Schenker as an employer offers them excellent prospects for the future. “I’d love to work abroad, as I did when I was a trainee,” says Burmahanli, who is currently taking an extra-occupational distance learning master’s degree course. “That’s one of the advantages of a company like DB Schenker, which is represented in around 130 countries.” Working in Turkey or in one of the emerging markets in Asia would appeal to him most. “From an airfreight perspective, Asia is particularly exciting, after all, most goods are delivered from there.”

Enlarge imageAleksandra Raba and Baris Burmahanli inside a cargo plane, DB AG

And what about Aleksandra Raba? “I’ll probably remain a ­junior staff member for a few years, but then I look forward to taking on larger projects,” she says with an infectious laugh. “DB Schenker gives you a lot of freedom. Also, the corporation is huge! If you’re prepared to familiarize yourself with new topics, then you’ll always find an area that you like.”

Last modified: 01.12.2015

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