When rumours started to spread during the third quarter of 2017, I thought this could be the unique possibility to touch every area and every department of Jungheinrich together with lots of special experiences in one single trainee assignment.
Jungheinrich was going to acquire further dealers in South America to expand its network of sales unit worldwide. Namely Ecuador, Peru and Colombia where about to join. With the help of earlier assignments, the trainee network and the help of the responsible people for the JIG program I quickly got in contact with the manager of the acquisition project; soon I was on board.
In January 2018, the adventure was finally going to happen. After being picked up at the airport I got to see the place to stay that had been organized for me. Next to the river Guayas the apartment included a neighbourhood that has restaurants, leisure areas and some bars.
The first morning started at 5 o’clock, due to the jet lag I had. After having explored the nearer neighbourhood, a driver picked me up to meet my future colleagues of the Agencia Alemana at 8:30. Finally, the project was about to start.
The first week was intense. A colleague from headquarters joined in for a couple of days for the kick-off. During the first days, it was all about explaining the company’s structure. For the dealer it was important to get to know the structures and the responsible people for the different tasks. Additionally, we had to adapt the sales process, especially the part about ordering machinery directly at the plants and getting the import-export-topics sorted out. From the finance point of view, the integration demanded a more detailed reporting of financial and sales figures. I got into the areas of sales, finance and logistic systems in a few days only. Many of these things I had heard in past JIG forums or JIG assignments. And missing information was easy to get as colleagues in Germany were (and still are) eager to help me out in various Skype conferences.
The Ecuadorian unit can be considered a quite advanced company regarding structures and processes resulting in recent success. A major challenge, though, is the language barrier. Therefore my Spanish was more then helpful, not only for me getting around but also for my German colleagues that got in touch with the unit for specific information. Quite interesting to get insights in so many different business topics!
Some evenings I was invited to have dinner with either the local managers or complete departments. It is great to get to know not only my colleagues but (poco a poco) the Ecuadorian culture.
And now, as I am getting used to my surroundings, I have to start organizing my weekends, in order to see as much as possible of this beautiful country and its kind and welcoming people. So far it was quite the right decision. I am learning a lot about the different departments of Jungheinrich, the different interpretation of tasks and the difficulty to adapt processes to local demands.
Ferdinand von Podewils
Throughout January and February, the workload was quite exceptional as I had the chance to touch many different business areas within Jungheinrich. Not only the finance side, but also sales, rental, HR and some legal aspects turned every single day in a new experience. Thereby I did not only learn a lot, but I also got to know new people throughout the different departments of Jungheinrich.
Often I have conference calls with colleagues in Germany to cover the time difference. Afterwards I forward the information to the local colleagues to work with them together to implement necessary changes. Most importantly, it was to ensure a functioning ordering and transport process. This included not only minor changes with the offer preparation but also new reporting templates. Having a good KPI structure already in place the colleagues were motivated to be faster than expected by headquarters.
To make an even better use of all the learned information I also got the chance to travel to Peru. Our new office in Lima needed similar assistance. In only two months, I had the chance to practice the new topics, to practice my approaches to communicate with the colleagues in Ecuador and Peru and to get to know parts of the country by visiting the most important tourist sites. Namely, I visited the Machu Picchu in Peru, the Parque Nacional Cajas and the Parque Nacional Machalilla in Ecuador. Additionally I visited a couple of beaches; either with some new friends from Ecuador or colleagues from Germany that stayed in South America for more than a week.
The last two months have been amazing. I never had the chance before to work on in? so many different countries, deepening my understanding of our unique business model. Having the ability to compare the German and Ecuadorian understanding of both the business and the market does open the eyes to try different approaches and ideas. Getting to know new countries for the weekend is a quite nice, additional treat. I am looking forward to working on even more topics for the upcoming month.
Ferdinand von Podewils
The integration of the new units is going on quite well. Nevertheless, both workload and pending topics are not getting to an end. But, the experience is continuing to be exiting and full of new learnings.
In the beginning, this project was planned to be my finale project as a trainee. When the regional head called me to ask me for an extension of my assignment, I was more than happy to turn Ecuador and Peru into my first landing position: I will stay in South America until end of July and will continue the financial post-merger integration of our new sales units Ecuador and Peru.
Ferdinand von Podewils