Change is his steady state
Stefan Hohm took on the role of Chief Development Officer (CDO) at DACHSER in January 2021. He is now responsible for the new IT & Development (ITD) executive unit, which deals with research and development, innovation topics, IT, contract logistics, and global industry solutions. The 48-year-old began his career at the company with a dual-study program in 1992. Today, almost thirty years later, he is just as enthusiastic, energetic, and passionate about DACHSER and logistics as ever before. We interviewed him to find out what has shaped his career to date, and how he is managing his new responsibilities as a member of the Executive Board.
Mr. Hohm, your father had his own transport company. Is this what inspired you to pursue a career in logistics and apply for a dual-study program at DACHSER?
Actually no. It was more of a coincidence, although in hindsight it does of course fit well with my résumé. My father always said I should first learn what he called a “proper” profession. That’s why me going straight to work for him, or even taking over the company, was never an option for either of us. I thought about studying mathematics to begin with, but then my roommate in the army told me he had started at DACHSER. I sent off my application—the first and last I’ve ever written—and was accepted.
Where did your career at DACHSER go from there?
After finishing my studies, I spent eight years working in the Logistics Consulting division in Munich, known today as Corporate Contract Logistics. I was responsible for developing and rolling out the MIKADO warehouse management software, a job I continued to do as head of department from 1999. I spent a lot of time back then visiting branches all over Europe and I got to know DACHSER really well. In 2004, at the relatively young age of 32, I was given the opportunity to assume management of the Erfurt branch. I really enjoyed building up the branch and not long after, in 2008, I was offered the chance to take over the role of branch manager in Hof. Hof was four times bigger than Erfurt and came with new challenges that I was only too happy to take on. Just as I moved to the branch, the economic crisis hit—but we managed to deal with it well as a team. I stayed in Hof until the end of 2015, before returning to the Head Office in Kempten to set up the Corporate Solutions, Research & Development corporate unit.
I was then offered the chance to do an Executive MBA at the IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. This was a huge step for me, and keeping up with my studies while also working as a branch manager was a real test of stamina. Looking back, I would describe this period as a kind of litmus test for my current position on the Executive Board. Moving back to the Head Office and taking on the new role of Corporate Director, at a time when DACHSER was restructuring as a European public company, proved to be the right move at the right time.
Did you already have your sights set on the Executive Board?
I’ve never felt a compelling need to climb the career ladder at all costs. But I do have an incredibly ambitious streak, especially when it comes to achieving goals I set myself. I never set out to become an Executive Board member per se, however I’ve always been eager to tackle new challenges, initiate change, and drive things forward. Fortunately, I’ve never had to look too far; the right opportunities have always come my way and, of course, I was lucky enough to be challenged and supported from an early stage in my career. In this respect, I would describe my path to becoming an Executive Board member as a continuous journey.
Stefan Hohm is Chief Development Officer (CDO) at DACHSER.
What’s the first thing you want to make happen as CDO at DACHSER?
On the one hand, it’s important to me that we, the new ITD executive unit, find our own identity and pull together as a unit. On the other hand, we have to maintain a balance and be careful not to develop a silo mentality. It is vital that the ITD executive unit works hand in hand with the business fields, the other executive units, and especially with the branches. We have to align our own identity and our integrated collaboration with others in a way that ultimately allows us to add value for DACHSER as a whole.
How is the coronavirus crisis affecting your work as Executive Board member for IT & Development?
The past year has certainly driven digitalization forward. In February 2020, DACHSER held a total of 400 WebEx meetings. In November, this figure had risen to 28,000. We had over 5,000 employees working remotely at the start of 2021. Not only does this pose a challenge in terms of bandwidth, IT equipment, and security, but it also transforms the way in which we work and, more importantly, collaborate. In IT terms, the pandemic has forced us to try out a lot of things that were effectively still in development. This has also had positive effects.
If we look at things from our customers’ perspective, the coronavirus crisis has certainly ramped up omnichannel sales concepts. DIY stores in particular have pretty much reinvented themselves, and we as logistics providers are following suit.
Innovation, digitalization, new technologies—these are all buzzwords that accompany and guide you in your daily work. How tech-savvy are you in private?
I would say I’m pretty tech-savvy. I like to follow all the latest innovations in the market and I try to integrate these digital assistants into my private life wherever it makes sense. For me, this goes hand in hand with maintaining a good level of knowledge, and of course it’s fun to try out new things.
Thank you for speaking with us.