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Frauen in Führungspositionen, Logistik, Hedwig Köster
Interview with Hedwig Koester

“Convince them with your success”

Hedwig Koester, Managing Director of Nagel Albatros-Spedition in Kehl, celebrates 30-year of service in the Nagel-Group. As a woman in a management position it was not always easy for her. In our interview, she talks about her career in freight forwarding.

Frauen in Führungspositionen, Logistik, Hedwig Köster

How did you decide to work in freight forwarding?

It was actually quite simple. I followed the recommendation of an advisor at the employment agency in my home town of Trier. At my very first job interview I was able to sign a contract of employment.

What was your daily work like in your first job?

I was a classic “gofer” ... a girl Friday.

What jobs did you get after that?

From July 1985 I worked as a freight forwarding agent at the Langen branch in Frankfurt and then became branch manager at the start of 1988. After the new building work in Groß-Gerau, I worked as branch manager there from 1993 to the end of 2010. I then moved to Andernach and was there until March 2014.

And since March 2014 you have been Managing Director of Nagel Albatros-Spedition in Kehl?

Initially I worked in Kehl from March to May 2014 as an advisor for Head Office. Afterwards I was appointed Managing Director.

On your route to senior management, have you had any mentors or people who have inspired or helped you?

Definitely. Willi Beckmann helped me when I started in Langen. And Peter Heiber. He was branch manager at Weichelt-Spedition in Mörfelden, my employer at the time between 1978 and 1985, before I started working for the Nagel-Group. He later became freight forwarding director at Kraftverkehr-Nagel under Kurt Nagel. One of my greatest role models was of course Kurt Nagel himself. They are all exemplified by their down-to-earth attitudes. They are all grassroots-trained freight forwarding agents. I admire that.

What characterises your work in particular?

Basically the profile of requirements has stayed the same. To use an image, for me the challenge still lies in making the “albatros” bird fly and keeping it in flight mode.

Have you felt that being a woman has been a help or a hindrance to you compared with your male colleagues?

More of a hindrance, nothing was given to me on a plate. The people I worked with didn’t always make it easy for me.

What is your recipe for achieving success despite this?

It’s quite simple really: convince them with your success.

Why would you recommend any woman to work in a management position?

Women mostly behave in a social way and get on well with people. Also, women are more open to empathy and have the right touch when dealing with employees. These strengths are urgently needed, particularly in our labour-intensive industry. There is a general lack of women in top management.

What opportunities are available to women today in logistics?

Many opportunities are there, it is just important for women to grasp these. Acceptance of female managers has greatly improved over the past few years.

Can you identify three characteristics which a young woman should have to be successful as a manager in logistics?

Above all, women should be assertive. Ambition and loyalty are also important prerequisites for success.

What do you like about the logistics industry today?

The diversity of the industry fascinates me, as it always has done. I am also enthusiastic about the international outlook of my current site. And I work with people, not machines! I love that.

What do you particularly appreciate about the Nagel-Group?

Everyone here has the chance of promotion. The route from trainee to managing director is not a rare occurrence in the Nagel-Group. The decentralised system means that individual employees have a lot of latitude in decision-making and a lot of freedom on the spot.

What are you particularly proud of when you look back at your career over the past 30 years?

I have almost always managed to implement my own vision. The sites and profit- centres I have managed have developed continuously and sustainably. And I have always been surrounded by committed and highly motivated employees.

What will you miss when you are no longer active in the Nagel-Group?

When I look back I’m sure I will miss lots of things. But I can’t really judge or answer that at the moment. And in any case, I’m going to be here until the end of 2016.

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