Max von Bröckel’s workplace, with its cool, white interior is an oasis of quiet and calm. Smartly dressed people gather for meetings and consult computer screens in glass-walled offices, while outside towering cranes move purposefully in the midday sun and large trucks ferry colourful containers in and out of Hamburg’s Altenwerder container terminal.
Dressed in a sharp, navy blue suit, the 25-year-old KLU student is in the final stages of a three-month internship with Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) as part of his Master in Global Logistics, and speaks warmly of his experience. HPC, he explains, is a subsidiary of Hamburg Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) - a logistics and transportation firm that operates three of the four container terminals in Hamburg’s port, and has a team of around 100 employees, who focus on consultancy for ports and transport sectors around the world.
“HPC does feasibility and market studies, forecasts for the future and establishes whether it makes sense to build or extend ports, to modernise or replace equipment, and so on,” the native of Kiel in northern Germany says. “A business development strategy is created looking at what kind of equipment is feasible. For example, do automated vehicles make sense in a place like Bangladesh where labour costs are low?”
Max’s own role at HPC has included “doing a lot of research” about countries as diverse as Bangladesh and Switzerland. “I’m currently working on a project in Caldera in Costa Rica, creating a 15 page traffic forecast,” he explains. “I’m working out that there will be so many containers transported through the port by 2020 by looking at forecasts made by institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, as well as doing research on the quantities of single products such as sugar, molasses and corn that will be transported.”
A lot of this research is conducted through ministries in Costa Rica, such as the transport and foreign trade ministries, finding facts and information about infrastructure, roadways and waterways in the country.
Speaking Spanish and having first-hand experience of the region has undoubtedly helped him with his work. “I did a high school exchange in Brazil, then did community work in Ecuador for a year after high school and also studied for a semester in Mexico while I was doing my BA in Logistics Management in Bonn,” Max explains.
Exposure to different customs, cultures and approaches has been a feature of his internship. “The nice thing is that I didn’t work on just one project the whole time. I got insights into the macro-economics of different countries,” he says. And while getting information from a place like Switzerland “where there are standards you can rely on” is relatively easy, he says he’s also enjoyed the challenge of sourcing facts and documents from Bangladesh, for instance, which has less rigorous processes for storing and sharing information.
His time at HPC has also sharpened his appreciation of ports and their functions. “You realise ports are the main gates for the world’s economies,” he says. “In the future, I want to work in the port sector, in maritime logistics, somewhere in Hamburg. I would be glad to settle here.”