How Ellen is Perfecting the Art of Consulting

According to the ‘left-brain versus right-brain’ theory of psychology, people can either be quantitative and analytical or creative and intuitive — but they can’t be both. Yet Ellen Saleck, a Senior Consultant from DHL Consulting’s Bonn office, is living proof that this simply isn’t true. Or, at least, it isn’t in her case.

Over the years, Ellen has spent a lot of her time developing skills in data science. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration, she completed a Master of Science in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology, majoring in big data and business analytics. She is naturally good at maths and science and always has been. “My passion for numbers has seamlessly translated into my role as a consultant because it’s a job that can involve a lot of data and analytics,” she says.

However, in her spare time, Ellen is an artist who paints large abstract works. Plus, she’s learning to sew and make clothes. “This idea that you must either choose maths or art,” she smiles. “I just don’t buy into it.” Instead, she is driven by a constant desire for self-improvement and growth — whatever the subject matter.

Author: Tony Greenway

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Be You, Culture & Career, Women at DHLC

Ellen isn’t one to keep new learnings to herself, either taking on internal todos to help others learn new skills such as facilitating the company’s internal Business Case Analysis Training. “I thoroughly enjoy sharing my knowledge and helping others enhance their skills,” she says. “It brings me immense satisfaction to contribute to the professional development of my colleagues and foster a culture of continuous learning within the team.”

Ellen became aware of DHL Consulting when, during her master’s degree, she met DHLC representatives at a networking event. “I was immediately drawn to them,” she remembers. “Lots of different consultancies were there, but the people from DHLC stood out. I had worked at a company for a year between my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and decided to choose any future employer based on its people. I immediately clicked with the DHLC colleagues at this event, which I took as a good sign.”

After completing a two-month internship with DHL Consulting in 2020, she joined the team full-time as a Consultant in 2021. Now things are moving fast, and Ellen has recently been promoted to Senior Consultant. “Every project is different, and I love that,” she says. “I also like being able to make an impact for clients. But, overall, I would still say the best thing about the job is the people I work with. Honestly, it was the main reason I joined DHLC in the first place. I genuinely like being around my colleagues.”

How do you explain your role when people ask: ‘What does a DHLC consultant do?’

A good way of explaining what we do is this: different parts of DHL Group have challenges that they can’t always solve on their own. Perhaps they don’t have the people do it, or the skillsets, or the time, or they need an alternative opinion and a fresh mindset — so they contact us. We are a trusted advisor.

Does workplace diversity make a difference to you?

Absolutely. It makes the job 100% more appealing. For example, in my current project team we have one colleague from China, one colleague from Russia, one colleague from Italy and a German colleague. Obviously we all have different strengths, but we bring so many different perspectives to the table.

You’re working on two research topics for DHL Consulting. Can you explain what these are?

Yes, I’m working on these topics alongside my consulting work. The first one is about the ‘Future of the Frontline Workforce’. I firmly believe that a thriving frontline workforce is integral to our organizational success and adaptability in an ever-evolving business landscape. For example, how do we retain employees? How do we keep staff motivated? What is the potential for automation and what effect could it have on the workforce? Answering these questions is vital to continuously position DHL Consulting as a thought leader in this area in our internal and external communications.

And the second topic?

The second topic is ‘Defining the DHLC Culture’. This is one of my ‘passion topics’, because we have such a great culture here: one that celebrates diversity, allows people to be themselves, and cultivates a feeling of trust and psychological safety among employees. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons why I came back to DHL Consulting full-time after my two-month internship.

But while I truly believe that DHLC has a unique culture, it’s one that hasn’t really been defined. We think it’s important to do that if we are to maintain it and develop it — so that’s what my research aims to do. I’ve been conducting workshop sessions with colleagues to find out their thoughts and impressions and provide a tangible definition.

Away from consulting you enjoy painting abstract artworks. Why abstract?

It makes me super happy. My mother was a graphic designer, which inspired me to take up art from a young age. I like to paint very big, expressive, abstract works that show a lot of emotion. I love experimenting with and combining color — bold colors and muted colors. It has always been my passion. And even as I stepped into the career path of a consultant, I still make time for it.

But sewing is new for you, isn’t it?

Yes. At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to learn a new hobby, and I chose sewing because I’ve always wanted to do it and I was never able to learn it at school. I’ve found that I really enjoy it — and I’ve become pretty good at it! From selecting fabrics and patterns to bringing everything together into a piece of clothing, I find great satisfaction in the process of bringing my ideas to life through sewing. It has also deepened my appreciation for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into the creation of garments and textiles.

You also enjoy traveling. How does that help you grow as a person?

Traveling allows me to broaden my horizons, challenge my perspectives, and create lasting memories. I really appreciate getting to know different cultures throughout my trips, the food, and seeing amazing nature around the world.

As a consultant, I’ve played to my strengths a lot of the time because I’m confident when it comes to numbers and financials. Professionally I have consistently gravitated toward finance-related workstreams.

But I reject the idea that people can’t be analytical and creative. As consultants, we often have to be both at the same time!

Be You: Read more stories from the women at DHL Consulting.

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