With experience spanning from supply chain consultancy, to data science, product development, and more, Sebastian supports the consulting and data science team at aioneers. Read on to find out what brought him to supply chain consulting, and what makes aioneers a great environment for him.
Hi, I’m Sebastian, and I’ve been a Senior Supply Chain Consultant at aioneers since we started. I also began studying for a doctorate in Supply Chain Management not long after joining. Outside of my supply chain-related life, I spend most of my time walking with my dog, Marley, playing ultimate frisbee, or learning about sailing.
Tip one: Try out everything you possibly can!
Like a lot of people, I didn’t directly study supply chain management. I think the reason this is so often the case is that people have to initially discover that they like mathematics, business, and informatics, and then they begin looking for something that satisfies all three. I studied business informatics on a dual studies course, meaning I also worked alternately in multiple internships with one company. A course like this is a great foundation for finding where you want to go, and after I finished I was interested in finding something more exciting and diverse than a permanent position where I had been working. Instead, I began working for a big four consultancy in IT Risk Assurance, while getting some glimpses into a few other areas of consulting. In fact, it was the people I now work with at aioneers who got me interested in supply chain management (SCM).
Why supply chain analytics?
Towards the end of my first year and just before I started my leave for my master’s course, my mentor introduced me to Jens Ehricht, now a colleague at aioneers. He in turn led me to Boris Reuter, who was leading the supply chain analytics team in Germany at the time. He also ran a weekly supply chain analytics call, where experts from all over would contribute and discuss ideas to do with supply chain. Hearing all the different perspectives, innovations, and use cases for supply chain analytics was inspiring. Suddenly, my business informatics master’s became entirely focused on supply chain; I chose as many related modules as possible. Over the two-year course, I also had a few trial days with the supply chain analytics team at that company.
In the year after my master’s, I joined their team permanently. Being one of the big four consultancies in Germany, this position offered exciting chances within a professionally diverse team. I worked on the same project as Thomas mentioned last week, where I saw how the whole concept of supply chain consulting could be better tailored with technology. At the same time, I was publishing a paper building on my masters’ thesis, which used operation research methods. Seeing the real-life impact of supply chain consulting alongside the gaps in the academic field was what encouraged me to start my doctorate in SCM. Boris Reuter especially helped me here to define this goal, and when I moved to aioneers he supported me in ensuring I could continue my planned academic and career path.
What 'Startup culture' means for a career at aioneers
The move to aioneers allowed me to focus even more in the areas I enjoy within supply chain, namely data analytics and product development. Being a start-up has meant that my opportunities to learn took on a whole new level here. In the first few months, I was involved more than ever in trying out different software and investigating what could work for us. I also continued working on customer projects, which had always been a big factor of what I liked about consulting. Now, I could also bring the knowledge I gained from this area into our technology side. What separated aioneers from previous companies was the chance to work side-by-side on projects with people like Christoph Kilger, whose textbooks I had previously studied.
The learning curve I experienced – and continue to experience – at aioneers is what keeps me so interested in my work. From day one, I was no longer just working in supply chain consulting, but enriching my skills here with multiple other skills. I am now always picking up books on the topics we work in, for instance forecasting. I can recommend Nicolas Vandeput's Data Science for Supply Chain Forecasting for people wanting to implement ideas in Python. Christoph Kilger's Supply Chain Management and Advanced Planning does a great job explaining the basics of a complicated subject. I’ve also learnt new coding languages so that I could push myself further, and the independent thirst to try out new things and learn has become a huge factor in why I enjoy my job.
What’s so great about what I do? Where I do it.
I think that the fact I am doing my doctorate while at aioneers represents something I love at aioneers. Although it isn’t very useful for aioneers short-term, my team makes it nonetheless possible for me to achieve my goals. Since the start, we’ve had a culture that treats us as individuals. Subject to client’s needs and a chat with my managers, I can determine where I work, when I work, and if needed, how much I work.
Just this year, a universal process for workcations was determined which came just in time to allow me and my partner to work in Colombia for five weeks. For both of us, that meant a lot. We could travel on the weekends and see my goddaughter in Colombia while still prioritizing an important project. My partner, also working for aioneers, could later book a last-minute trip to see their family in Britain. After working for companies where this wasn’t possible without booking holiday in advance, aioneers made my partner very happy with just that simple update to our policy.
My progression since starting has been typical of a startup, I would say. I have more responsibility and a more fast-paced working style, in that I definitely have a wider range of urgent tasks. Of course, there have been some stressful days – but no more than in any previous position. There is nonetheless an increasing amount of support coming in, and my free time is still respected. When I say I need more time to complete something or that I am struggling to keep up with my doctoral work, I have strong advocates behind me. In other words, we have a culture where I can pursue professional success as well as personal success.
Keep an even keel, in and out of work
I am incredibly happy in my job, something that I really, truly appreciate. I could put it down to having studied an area that prepared me for both business consulting and data analytics – something I recommend to anyone wanting to end up in supply chain. It could be the topic itself; supply chain is an industry that goes at the speed of light. But then again, it’s rather people that have taught me balance in my professional life. TL;DR, persistently excellent advice and support from career mentors has helped me find a subject I love, and an employer that meets my expectations has given me the life, overall, that allows me to enjoy my job. More than anything else, anyone at the start of their career should take this advice; seek out the people and employers that are ready to give you what you need to succeed, personally and professionally.
We really appreciate Sebastian taking the time to give us a look into how he finds life as a Senior Supply Chain Consultant. If his experience at aioneers as a consultant has got you thinking, we invite you to have a look our careers page, or even get in touch to find out more.