Managers Job Sharing? Here’s How – Alumni Story with Alida Tiemann

Portrait of Alida Tiemann

Part-time management, how’s that supposed to work? KLU graduate Alida Tiemann (MSc Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management, Class of 2013) offers a simple, concise answer: in pairs! At Tchibo she initiated the first job sharing model in logistics, and as Head of Supply Chain Management B2B she runs her department in a twosome. This piqued our interest.

You’ve mentioned what’s easier when managing as a pair. Is there anything that’s more difficult in twos?

Alida Tiemann: I really don’t think anything is harder, except perhaps that you have to synch up more. But the extra time is minor. I met my job sharing partner 10 years ago at Tchibo in the project management department. We trust each other 100 percent and that’s important in job sharing.

So for job sharing to work you can’t just throw people together?

Tiemann: Right. It needs to be finely tuned or else it won’t work. Something else is important, too. Tasks need to be clearly allocated. For instance, I focus on coffee processes and my partner focuses on non-food processes. A good side effect: if each person has their own playing field, they can decide a lot alone and thus, quickly.

Why does a company split a management position? What about job sharing appeals to you?

Tiemann: This model allows me to combine both the early stages of starting a family with the demanding task of management responsibility. My son was one year old when I started this position.

At Tchibo there have been various job sharing models for some time, even in management. Our sustainability division, for example, is shared at the director level. In logistics, my colleague and I are sharing a management position for the first time. A special feature of this position is its design of 30 hours per person.

In February you were back at KLU for Career Connect as a Tchibo Ambassador. At the networking event you presented your company as an employer. You’ve been part of the company for 10 years. How did Tchibo manage to keep you so long?

Tiemann: In 10 years I’ve done various jobs and climbed my way up. Even now as a mother working part-time I’m still able to manage a team. Even if you miss work because your kid is sick.

I feel comfortable here and have a lot of friends in the company. We don’t just work here, there’s a lot on offer: a delicious canteen, a gym with a pool, collective actions such as picking up litter with the initiative Hamburg räumt auf, running events, and volunteering for immigrant integration at Sprachbrücke Hamburg.

With regard to logistics, Tchibo is diverse. A lot of what we learned in theory at KLU can be applied here in practice. We have B2B and B2C logistics, 900 own stores across Europe, 24,000 retail outlets (depots), and online shops in eight European countries. Every week we have a new product world in our stores and depots, and of course we pick up returns every week. We sell via all product categories, small through large – socks, bicycles, even an island once in a while. And coffee, of course. There’s always something new to keep in mind in transport, warehousing, and all other processes.

You’re among KLU’s first alumni. What swayed you to study logistics back then?

Tiemann: After high school I applied to be a freight forwarding agent, among other things. I was invited to an interview, and crossing the shipping yard, what can I say? It was love at first sight. I stood there watching the trucks pull up to the gates, behind them the huge warehouse. I thought, wow, this is totally cool. To this day. That’s how I got started in logistics. A couple stops later came the master’s program at KLU.

What’s your message for people considering a career in logistics?

Tiemann: Definitely do it. It’s an industry with a future. Without logistics nothing works—it’s crucial. Whether generally in business or a specific company. Besides, it never gets boring. You can work in operations, in transport, in warehouse management. You can head up projects in the project department, make ideas reality which you can then touch and see. Or you can go for a control function, as I did in supply chain management.

Thanks a lot, dear Alida! 

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