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 Nicole wearing a yellow jacket and standing in front of a row of DB Schenker truck container

The Second but Best Chance of her Life - how Nicole Changed Careers

At nearly forty years of age, Nicole had to start all over again. A serious illness left her unable to resume her former job. The road ahead offered just two options. Nicole could either rely on a disability pension or restart her professional career in a totally new field. She opted for the latter, went back to school, and joined DB Schenker. Learn what helped her along the way and why this reorientation was a win-win for both Nicole and DB Schenker.

Giving up was never an option for me.

Nicole wearing a yellow jacket and pointing and looking at wrapped cargo

“Nicole, can you please check the status of a shipment?” asks her manager. Yes, she can. Nicole leaves her desk, grabs her jacket, and is off to the warehouse. “I could search via PC but sometimes shipments are just in transit and the answers I’m looking for are down in the warehouse.” Nicole Herrmann does not mind leaving her cozy office and rolling up her sleeves. Variety is one of the things she loves most about being an Administration Manager in Land Transport in our Hamburg branch. 

Prior to joining DB Schenker, Nicole had worked in a factory that made promotional gifts, the sales department of a telecommunications company, and a supermarket. She would supplement those low-paid jobs with side gigs in restaurants. Three herniated cervical discs ended up forcing her out of factory and restaurant work. Unable to continue, she was shocked to find herself eligible for disability insurance. “I really felt inferior,” she recalls. “It took me some time to accept the reality of the situation and look ahead,” she says. But she got there eventually and instead of an early retirement Nicole decided to start a new career - a total reset. 

Nicole talking to a colleague

Nicole opted for a change in career paths and DB Schenker became her new professional home. “What distinguishes career changers from many of their peers is their flexibility,” says Tim,  Head of Talent Management & Development at Schenker Deutschland AG. Career changers are used to different settings and bring a combination of many experiences to their new position. “We notice that career changers are better at seeing the big picture. They look left and right and often had to leave their comfort zone dramatically due to some existential crisis,” Tim explains.

This truth applies to Nicole as well. “Giving up was never an option for me. Moving from eastern to western Germany, my single mom raised four children and would juggle several jobs at a time. She was my role model. She must have passed that fighting spirit on to me.” The placement service recommended Nicole to apply for a job in logistics. Easier said than done. In order to find out if this was the right step, Nicole applied for a six-week internship at DB Schenker in Hamburg, Germany. After getting a glimpse into the logistics business, both Nicole and her DB Schenker supervisor were sure: she had found the right place. And so, at the age of 39, Nicole began a three-year apprenticeship at the Hamburg branch.

“An internship is a perfect opportunity for both parties - employer as well as potential future employee - to find out if they are a good match,” Tim tells us. He resumes: “Especially for senior career changers, the résumé may not tell the whole story. They bring so much life experience to the table that may be more beneficial for the job than high grades and diplomas. For example, prior self-employment experience is incredibly helpful when it comes to thinking entrepreneurially and assuming responsibility in a complex group structure.”

Nicole’s specialty is her total service mentality. The customer is king and Nicole sees many similarities between hospitality and logistics. “I have to do whatever it takes so that the order is delivered as commissioned, no matter if it’s a meal or a shipment,” Nicole confirms. When it comes to missing qualifications, she has the help of a special trainer. Nicole’s 16-year-old son Raphael helps her improve her English every night at dinner. It’s all gravy in the end.