Corporate Insights: Alexander Schuett, VP Head of DHL Consulting Americas

Many CEMS alumni have chosen to build their careers with CEMS Corporate Partners. In this interview series, we explore the diverse career paths CEMS alumni have embarked upon within CEMS Corporate Partners. Today we meet Alexander Schuett, who recently relocated with his family to the US for DHL Consulting.
Alex DHL

Covid-19 accelerated the growth of e-commerce globally at an exponential rate. For those working in logistics, including front-line delivery, the pressure to meet demand and keep supply chains moving was and continues to be extraordinary. 

So says Alexander Schuett, VP Head of DHL Consulting Americas. Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) is the largest logistics company in the world, and keeping the globe moving during the pandemic was no mean feat, he says.

“I think it’s safe to say that Covid fast-tracked the growth of e-commerce by about 10 years, and virtually overnight. DPDHL was seeing massive peaks in demand, which I am sure other players in our industry witnessed too. For our core company, on the frontline, that meant doing things faster: growing, adapting, changing and hiring new talent with speed and dexterity.”

One of the principal functions of DHL Consulting is to help its core business do just that: navigate strategic challenges and ensure that the critical resources and capabilities are in place to withstand challenges – and in the case of Covid-19, seismic shocks. 

It’s not unusual, says Alex, for large multinationals like DPDHL to have their own internal consultancy practices in place; to shape strategy, drive product development and help expedite complex, international projects while keeping expertise in-house and developing internal talent. 

What is perhaps more unique in the case of DHL Consulting, is that the work of Alex and his team in the Americas – along with other geographies – is simultaneously internal and external-facing. 

“We offer our services across management and supply chain consultancy to DPDHL as a client – but also to DHL customers,” he says. “So we very much service both sets of needs. With DHL, we operate just like any other management consultancy and pitch for projects that arise within the core business. For DHL clients, we offer unique expertise in the supply chain and logistics space – something that has been hugely in demand both during the pandemic and its aftermath, from keeping critical supplies moving to storing vaccines, and beyond.”

 

The inside track on the business

Pitching for internal projects is a key function of business-as-normal for Alex and his team, though their proximity to the customer means that they are usually able to pinpoint and avert potential problems or challenges before the project is fully scoped and tendered to the market. 

“Because we are so close to the business, we’re usual able to head problems off at the pass before they become major issues for the business. We can do this because we have such a clear and comprehensive understanding of the different divisions and functions of DPDHL.”

This proximity to the business, understanding its different constituents and connecting resources and people – often across geographies and business units – are the staple responsibilities of Alex and his team. The work is as demanding as it is diverse and varied, he says.

“DHL Consulting has a breadth of focus projects that we are currently driving proactively. These include the future of work, the future of operations, sustainability and data analytics, which are the areas we see as critical in terms of supporting the DPDHL Group. Right now we’re working hard to get comprehensively upskilled and ready to deliver value to our business.”

Delivering value and support is also contingent on deploying the right sorts of skills, he insists; inter-personal or “soft” skills are critical competencies in his world. 

 

The skills for the job

“Managing my team through difficult times and ensuring that they have what they need to service the needs of other teams whether internal or external to the business, all this really requires people skills. It’s about developing other people and empowering them to deliver their best. Another part of it is problem-solving, and maintain the resilience and the passion to drive projects forward.”

Passion is something that Alex connected with before joining DHL Consulting and even before the company had officially become a CEMS Corporate Partner. The opportunity to meet DHLC arose at a case study event in Cologne, and he was instantly hooked, he says.

“Logistics is a fascinating world because of the breadth and variety of the work as well as its critical importance in global trade. But perhaps more than that even, I felt immediately connected to DHL Consulting as a culture. I originally intended to join an Inhouse Consultancy to kick-start my career, pursue two or three years with the company in consulting before moving on. But there’s something about this organisation that has kept me here and still motivates me every day after 7 years.”

That something, he explains, is tied to the variety of the work and a culture that not only support but proactively encourages personal and professional growth. There is also a spirit of collaboration – a human dimension – that he believes is unique to the company.

 

The human touch 

“This is a very much a culture that treats people as human beings and encourages them to explore, discover and grow. One way that this is expressed is through sabbaticals. DHL Consulting opens a lot of opportunities for you to take time out, whether you have only been with the company for a year or for a long time already. I took a sabbatical of three months after 3 years at DHLC for my honeymoon and later parental leaves to spend time with my growing family. The company supports that because it understands the value of wellbeing, and also because we know that our people come back enriched, energised and with fresh ideas to bring to the table.”

This kind of growth and exploration are “the drivers of success,” says Alex. And he encourages young people and fellow CEMSies embarking on their career to seize every opportunity to discover and to learn. Be clear too, he says, about the values that matter to you.

“CEMSies have that international mindset and an appetite for adventure that is nurtured by the whole CEMS experience and that’s an amazing driver of success. I would simply advise young people to also think about the values and the people within any organisation that they commit their talent to – to be sure that there is a good cultural fit and that they will feel valued as a person the way that I have by my organisation.”