They never expected to get this far. Having spotted a Facebook post advertising KPMG’s case competition, KLU Masters of Logistics student Marie Klose suggested to classmates Oriana Menabue Laroche, David Klein and Lukas Kaiser that they sign up and give it a go.
Their rationale was that the competition, which requires the teams to provide solutions for real-life business cases and doubles as a recruitment event for the consultancy firm, would at the very least give them the opportunity to practice some of the skills learnt in the workplace and at the KLU as well as to network with and learn from some of the best consultants in the business.
"We thought ‘let’s give it a shot’, applied for it, but didn’t think we would win,” explains Klein, a 26-year-old from Munich. “We enjoy working together and wanted to take the opportunity.”
Pitted against four other teams from tertiary institutions in northern Germany in Hamburg last November, their first task was to develop a market expansion strategy for the Dubai-based hotel chain Jumeirah. Given two hours to formulate their plan and a presentation to go with it, the team aced their presentation and the subsequent question and answer round.
"We were quite innovative,” explains Klein of their success. “I believe our solutions were out-of-the-box and creative.” So much so that the team won the regional event and followed it up with a victory in the national competition in Berlin in February this year.
These achievements, they say, prove logistics graduates can deliver solutions to everyday business problems. “We are more than logisticians,” says Menabue Laroche. “We are strategy-minded,” adds Kaiser. “Getting insights into all industries and having a strong understanding of interconnected networks makes us cross-functional strategists.”
The secret of their success also lies in their diversity and the way they combine together as a team, says Klose. “We have diverse backgrounds - we are not all the same gender or all from the same country.”
The 24-year-old international management graduate from Goslar has worked in international transport logistics for Bosch in Spain as well as in offshore logistics for Siemens in Hamburg during her studies. Classmate Kaiser, a 23-year-old from Arnsberg, worked for Kühne & Nagel for four years before and during his KLU MSc program. Munich native Klein used to be a navy logistics officer and also worked in the hotel industry in China. All three now combine their studies with consultancy work for KPMG. Meanwhile, Menabue Laroche, a 28-year-old Venezuelan who has worked in communication and international project management for the aeronautic sector, is currently working for Beiersdorf in the global purchasing department.
Being friends has also helped their progress in the competition, they say, and spending an hour in the team’s, company it’s clear that they connect with and feed off each other. “The pressure of the competition showed the best from all of us,” Menabue Laroche notes. “We were really fair and shared the tasks. We also had the great advantage that Lukas is the master of presentations, and we had the eloquence of David.” “And who can bring the enthusiasm to the room like Oriana or expertise like Marie?” asks Kaiser.
The foursome are now looking ahead to the global final in Lisbon, which begins on April 10. In the Portuguese capital, the team – the first ever from Hamburg to get to the final - will compete against 23 teams from around the world and face intense pressure, particularly in the first two rounds of the competition when 21 of the teams will be eliminated.
Given that they originally entered “to have fun”, as Klose describes it, what are the teams hopes for Lisbon? “We want to win, but have realistic expectations” says Klein. “The best teams in the world are going to be there, but we believe we can win this and we would love to win it for the KLU, Hamburg and Germany. That would be great.”
Here at KLU, we are keeping our fingers crossed for our students to win in Lisbon!
If you want to know more about them watch their video.