Logistics student Lena orchestrates Elbjazz Festival

Few of those sipping chilled wine and tapping their toes at the recent Elbjazz Festival in Hamburg would have given much thought to the organisational research and planning that goes into such an event. But for one festivalgoer, at least, the challenge of fitting 74 acts onto ten stages over two days was just as absorbing as the music performed by the festival’s mixture of local and international talent.

As part of her Master in Global Logistics thesis, KLU student Lena Riedel worked with the organizers of the jazz event, which takes place on the last weekend of May each year, to develop an Excel model that could be used in future years to optimize the process of matching bands to stages, thereby reducing set-up times.

It’s work, Lena says, that mainly has a quantitative, not qualitative outcome. “It doesn’t help the dramaturgy - the artistic composition of the festival and its acts, but it does give the festival organizers important new insights from a different perspective and knowledge that can help inform their strategic planning,” she explains.

The 26-year-old, from Lübeck in northern Germany, first became aware of the possibility of working with the festival while studying in Strasbourg as part of her master’s program last year. “My prof, Cerag Pince, contacted me with some different ideas for my thesis and one of the options was the Elbjazz Festival, which really appealed to me because I sing a lot in my spare time,” she says. This includes singing with her younger sister, Johanna, in a local band called Sonnenallee.

She then got in touch with Tina Heine, the festival organizer, who suggested Lena do a project on matching bands to stages. Festival management software exists, Lena points out, but it is generally too expensive for smaller festivals.

“Cerag and I thought this would be a good project to fit an operations-research model,” she says. Applying logistics to the arts was challenging, however. “Among organizers of such events there tends to be greater focus on the content of than on the supporting and management tools involved in planning,” Lena explains.

“There’s also not a lot written about the application of operations research in the arts. It’s a field where you can do a lot on the academic side, and the results are highly valued by its practitioners, but unfortunately few employment opportunities exist.”

With a bachelor degree in Logistics Management and having worked as a personal assistant to the Chairman of Board of Directors at Kühne + Nagel, where she continues to work part time administering the company’s internship program “Crossing Borders”, Lena sees her future in logistics.

“I decided to do my Master in Global Logistics to get new ideas about the applicability of strategy, employee and organizational development, and sustainability, which are all administrative, to the field of logistics,” she explains. Endowed with new skills and knowledge, a career in these fields, be it in a logistics company or academia, possibly beckons.

In the meantime, however, there is a thesis be handed in and a couple of well-earned weeks visiting a friend in the Dominican Republic to enjoy afterwards.


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