Programming the future
Two women, two careers in IT, one shared goal: to constantly improve processes for Business Integration customers.
“Twenty years ago, if someone had told me that I’d now be working in IT, I wouldn’t have believed them,” says Nicola Elsner. Her career path made a lateral move from the administrative court to DACHSER. “I studied to be a clerk of court, but as that job involves doing the same thing day in, day out, I didn’t find it fulfilling. So I started looking around for something new,” says Elsner, who is now 44. It’s 21 years since she found her fresh start at DACHSER, joining the company as an assistant in the IT department. Over the years, Elsner has built up extensive knowledge of IT topics and immersed herself in the world of DACHSER IT. Just over nine years ago, she took on the role of consultant for customer projects, which has allowed her to constantly enrich her wealth of experience. Most recently, she has also become a project manager on the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team.
Thirty-three-year-old Claudia Beck, meanwhile, chose an entirely different career path: “Even before I completed my bachelor’s in computer science, I started gaining practical experience at DACHSER, and it was also here that I wrote my final thesis.” Her degree in computer science set her on a more traditional path. Beck joined DACHSER after graduation, starting as a software developer. In 2020, she took on more responsibility within the eLogistics Development team. Now she is a team leader in charge of a group of international software developers. “The great thing about my job is that it’s about more than just designing and implementing software. I also get to see the results of my work being put into practice.”
Continuity and change
Two different career paths, two different areas of focus. But Elsner and Beck are pursuing a shared goal, and although they work in different areas, everything they do is about achieving it: “We want to make our processes better and more straightforward for our customers, all with the aid of IT,” Beck says animatedly.
DACHSER’s Corporate IT employs more than 550 central and distributed IT specialists at its locations in Kempten and Malsch (Germany), Chanverrie (France), and at the Regional Head Office Americas. These are joined by more than 230 IT coordinators based at the company’s branches around the world.
A great deal has happened over the past two decades. “In logistics, communication used to be almost exclusively paper-based; today it’s almost entirely digital. And back then, nobody could’ve imagined that video conferences would become a regular thing. Since many orders were still being placed by phone, screen-based interaction didn’t enter into it,” Elsner says.
Both women work in the Business Integration Division, but on different projects. Collegiality and mutual support are a given.
Enhanced customer experience
Every day, DACHSER’s customers experience just how digital logistics has become through the eLogistics portal. This is where they can organize and track their shipments online in real time, calculate freight charges, place transport orders, monitor warehouse processes, and find suitable products. The portal also offers a variety of applications that are integrated directly into DACHSER’s transport and warehouse systems. Beck looks after these web applications: “My team makes sure that everything goes smoothly for customers using the portal. This means that in addition to being logical and easy to use, the applications must always be stable, secure, and perform well.”
Over at the Robotic Operations Center, Elsner’s RPA team manages the efficiency of processes behind the scenes, manually identifying and analyzing recurring processes that can be performed by virtual helpers—in other words, robots aided by software. One such process is the automated booking of packaging material for all branches. A total of five experts work at the Robotic Operations Center, providing bots that assist DACHSER colleagues in their daily work.
A lateral move with fresh perspectives
Shaping all these developments calls for skilled individuals, even those with unconventional career paths. Elsner recalls: “Back then, I was one of the first who came from an entirely different sector. Now there are more of us who don’t have a traditional logistics background. We all bring our own qualifications and fresh perspectives to the table, each one helping to enhance DACHSER IT.”
A lot has changed since Elsner started. The advent of digitalization has led to DACHSER IT taking on more and more tasks, which means that the number of people working in Corporate IT has grown steadily over the past few years to over 550. “We’re always happy to welcome new colleagues who help us master the challenges posed by digital logistics,” Beck adds. This growth is also accompanied by a more diverse range of projects. And there will be no lack of exciting tasks in the future, thanks to process automation, predictive analytics, and new aspects of machine learning.
Just like Elsner, Beck is really enthusiastic about where she works: “I lead an international team of software developers comprising trainees, students, externals, and colleagues from France.” DACHSER’s Corporate IT places a great deal of emphasis on teamwork and opportunities for personal and professional development. “IT underpins everything that DACHSER does. It’s really fun to be a part of further enhancing our range of digital customer services every day,” Beck says.
Elsner agrees completely: “I’m really happy where I am. Every day offers something different and there are always new challenges to tackle. My motto is ‘There’s nothing you can’t learn’ .” So she says she has no regrets about the path she took.
Both Elsner and Beck rate the opportunities for personal and professional development at DACHSER IT as very attractive. No matter what path they took to reach their goal: “We’ve got the chance to work together to shape DACHSER’s digital future.”