Interview with Nikola Hagleitner, CEO Industrial Projects, DHL Global Forwarding


“..Give your best at all times, deliver what you promise, and make sure people know what you have delivered. Stand up for your team, and own up to mistakes, and fix them. Walk the talk – and your team will follow.”

CranesY: Who or what introduce you in the Transport and Logistics Sector?
Nikola Hagleitner: I was hired after business school by Deutsche Post DHL into their internal management consultancy. At that time I was rather looking for a consulting job than for Logistics specifically, but soon realized that logistics indeed “moves the world”,
and that’s how my passion for it started – 2005.

C.: Best lesson you’ve learned along your career?
N.H.: Be true to yourself, in whatever you do.

C.: Your “receipt” for work-personal balance?
N.H.: I wish I had a recipe for that, I am not a particular role model for keeping a very strong work life balance. I have a lot of fun in what I am doing, thus I don’t mind for example traveling a lot, even on weekends or odd hours.
But sometimes I just take a few days, and disappear to a lonely island, and fully recharge!

C.: Recommendation for other women who work in Logistics Sector?
N.H.: I am not a big fan of having different recommendations for men and women differently at the work place.
So my advice holds true for everybody – give your best at all times, deliver what you promise, and make sure people know what you have delivered. Stand up for your team, and own up to mistakes, and fix them. Walk the talk – and your team will follow.

C.: According to your opinion should employer keep a distance or in reverse make friend with his staff?
N.H.: I am always very close with my team, and take a personal interest in their lives outside of work. Understanding what drives your team is a key success factor in being a good leader.

C.: Your relationship with co-workers?
N.H.: I am a very straight forward but also very collaborative person, so with the vast majority of my co-workers, I have a very open and honest relationship, with some of them also outside of work.
I am spending more time with them than with my family, so a good and healthy work environment is crucial for staying sane!

C.: What’s your typical workday like?
N.H.: Quite frankly, there is no typical work day for me. I travel about 80% of my time, which means customer and site visits and meetings with my local teams, mixed with some regular calls I have with my senior team.
When I am in the office, I work on the more analytical and strategic aspects of my job, and work off any backlogs that occur during my travel.

C.: What things make you happy about your job?
N.H.: Executing a project successfully for our customers, fixing complex problems that seem impossible at first, coaching my team members to their full potential, and that no day is like another day in my job. I would not be happy at a typical desk bound 9-5 job!

C.: Finish this sentence: A CEO needs to possess…
N.H.: A CEO needs to possess a range of qualities – but most importantly (s)he needs to be authentic, have high values and hold other accountable to the same.

C.: Aside a work, how do you spend your spare time?
N.H.: Even though this might sound strange, as I am traveling >80% of my time for business, I also enjoy traveling for leisure and to relax. If I cannot travel though, reading a book on exotic locations sometimes has to do the trick.
Cooking for my friends and poker are some other things I truly enjoy.

C.: To gain credibility at work women should to do.. ?
N.H.: ….for me women do not need to gain credibility any more than men. To be credible you need to be authentic, deliver what you promise, work hard but more importantly smart.

C.: Are you facing new challenges in Global Logistics Sector? Tell us about it.
N.H.: The structural change in the airfreight market is certainly a challenge that we face, where we observe a modal shift to Ocean Freight. Nearshoring also changes the established trade flow patterns. We also observe a trend of many of our customers to be much more conscious of social responsibility and sustainable business practices, which is also a topic that is very close to our hear at DHL. I see this more as an opportunity than a challenge though, as the biggest logistics provider in the world we can certainly make a difference.

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