How role model Alessandra keeps a work-life balance 

By her own admission, Alessandra Esteves — Associate Partner at DHL Consulting in Bonn —loves to talk and connect with people. She’s also the sort of person who commits 100% to everything she does. “I tend to speak really fast!” she admits. “And, as a consultant, my brain works really fast — and, physically, I move fast. I think people in the office see me and it’s like these volts of energy shooting around.”

As a counterpoint to her busy working life, Alessandra has discovered a peaceful new hobby: scuba diving. That stands to reason because it takes her out of her occasionally hectic professional world and into a tranquil new one beneath the waves. “The great thing about diving is that you have to move slowly, and it’s silent, so my energy levels drop, and I can just relax,” she says. “Under the water I can’t be this fast-moving, fast-talking person. It forces me to change my style completely.”

Above water, it’s been a particularly exciting time for Alessandra, who this year was promoted to Associate Partner and will join the management team leading DHL Consulting's supply chain practice as of January 2024.

“My previous role was Project Manager,” she says. “As such, it was my responsibility to make sure the client is satisfied with the output of our work and that our consultants learn and develop new skills. As Associate Partner, I’ll still be doing all of that; but now there’s a coaching aspect, too. It’s my duty to ensure that members of the team are equipped with the right skills, to give them feedback about areas of possible development and to enhance their strengths. At the same time, people ask more and more for career advice, how to position themselves and recommendations beyond our typical day-to-day work.”

Author: Tony Greenway

Published: Last updated:

Be You, Culture & Career, Women at DHLC

Alessandra joined DHL Consulting in 2018 as a Consultant and was promoted to Senior Consultant a year later. As Associate Partner, she’s now well aware that she is a role model to more junior members of the DHLC team. “I received some really nice feedback from a female consultant on a previous project,” she remembers. “She said she saw me as a role model, which was the first time I had heard it stated so explicitly. That made me feel proud and very happy, quite honestly. At the same time, being a role model is a big responsibility. It made me realize the impact that I can have as a person with seniority in this industry. After all, there may be days when you’re under pressure and just want to focus on your work and not talk to anyone. But you always have to remember to be the role model that people want, need — and deserve.”

How did you start your career in consulting?

I studied Business Administration, and then an MSc in International Management at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, and I started my career in consulting in a Big Four consultancy, also in Barcelona. DHLC came into my life when I was invited to attend one of its two-day senior female recruiting events aimed specifically at women. The event was focused on networking and personal development. For example, there was a session on individual working preferences to help us understand ourselves, understand others, and make the most of the relationships that affect us in the workplace.

I had the opportunity to get to know women working at DHLC so it was a super nice experience, and I fell in love with the culture, the working style and the welcoming attitude everyone had. The other reason why I really liked DHLC is that, similar to my business school in Spain, it was so diverse.

To join DHLC, you moved from Barcelona to Bonn. Was that difficult?

Not really. I’ve been used to traveling ever since I was a child and really enjoy immersing myself in new cultures. Even though I was born in Venezuela, my family has a very international background with my grandparents being Spanish and Italian. I used to spend all my summer breaks in Spain, until we moved there permanently when I was 14.

Also, my transition from Barcelona to Bonn — which is a very international city — was so smooth, because half of the people at DHLC are from different countries or have studied abroad, so they know exactly what it’s like. That meant the social aspect was there immediately for me. Plus, DHL Consulting gives its staff all the tools they require to make the move as efficient as possible, such as support for finding apartments and helping with administrative tasks.

As a senior woman in the company, you are now a role model. Have female role models been important to you in your career?

Yes, of course. There are a lot of people that I admire and respect from afar: Sheryl Sandberg, former Meta COO, or Indra Nooyi, former Pepsico CEO, to name a few. But what I have learned to appreciate the most are role models much closer to me. For example, Sabine Mueller — who was already CEO at DHL Consulting when I arrived — is a very good example of embracing challenges and changes with a positive attitude.

We have seen a lot of changes in the past five years, and Sabine has done a huge amount of work to push the organization towards new ways of working but also dealing with the impact of the pandemic and the need to adapt to a totally different environment from one day to the other. For example, while the consulting “world” of the past was very focused on ambition, working long hours, and focusing mostly on project and client satisfaction, she quickly identified that the new generation is now also focused on maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Sabine knows that, yes, we’re consultants, and we are ambitious, but we’re also parents, partners, siblings, and friends. We have our hobbies and interests and need to strike a balance between our personal lives and our working lives. And this change of attitude has brought a lot of success to DHL Consulting in the form of retention, with sabbaticals and part-time work, but also in how people work with each other.

How do you relax away from work?

I’m always trying new things. In 2018/2019, I was learning Latin dancing — specifically salsa and bachata — and I was lucky enough to attend classes with a colleague who was also very into it. Currently, I’m focused on scuba diving, which is something I started last year and really like. During my 2-month sabbatical, I went to Bali and got my scuba diving license, and I’m now planning to take trips to places where I can dive and practice my skills.

What would you like to try next?

That is a very good question. I am now trying to move towards nature. I will take another month off (another mini-sabbatical) in December to explore Patagonia. I am looking forward to a lot of hikes and embracing nature from a different perspective.

I want to be a trusted leader within the company, where people inside and outside of my team feel comfortable to come to me to ask for help and guidance. That’s why ‘connectivity’ — being sociable, trusting and approachable to all — is so important.

Alessandra Esteves

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

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