It’s one reason why, after discussions with her managers, Colombian-born Laura decided to study a master’s degree in Business Analytics in Barcelona. “I’d always wanted to do a master’s degree, but I chose that particular subject because I was advised that it would help me stay in strategy/consulting,” she says. “I also became part of a student organization, 180 Degrees Consulting, which provides strategic and operational assistance to non-profits and social enterprises. I served as a consultant director for a year.”
Laura then began a second master’s degree in International Management and, in June, became an Elevate Intern with DHL Consulting in Bonn. It’s only for two months, but working at the company has been a breath of fresh air. “Frankly, it’s not like a traditional consulting environment,” she laughs. “I discovered this early on at the DHLC summer party, where colleagues brought in their partners, children and even their dogs. It was great fun!”
How did you become an intern with DHL Consulting?
As part of the credit score requirements for my second master’s degree, I have to complete an international internship placement. DHLC had links to my degree program, so that’s how I found out about the company. I applied and started on the Elevate program this summer, working on a change management project.
What skills have you learned as an intern?
Lots! There’s a range of supply chain-specific knowledge and terminology that I was not used to, so getting to grips with that has been a steep learning curve. My day-to-day tasks include helping with Excel and PowerPoint. And collaborating with clients has been so interesting.
You love cooking and, early in life, wanted to be a chef. This led to you becoming fluent in French. Can you explain how?
It was very early in life! My mom tells me that when I was four I told her that I wanted to be a chef. She thought: ‘Laura will say that she wants to be something else tomorrow.’ But then I said the same thing to her the next day. And the next day. And every day! She was worried that I was going to start experimenting in the kitchen, so she told me: ‘You can’t go into the kitchen on your own. You’re too young. But what if you start French classes? If you get really good at it, you can go to cookery classes in France when you’re older.’
So that’s what I did. However, growing up I became aware of social inequalities and other issues affecting my country. So although I continued learning French and my passion for cooking continued, my career emphasis shifted, and I thought about becoming a lawyer.
Have you taken those cookery classes in France?
Not yet. Most of the best chefs in the world are French, and it’s still my dream to do that at some point. But, more practically, I’m thankful that I now have a language skill. I couldn’t have worked in Montreal without it, for example.
What’s your favorite food?
Anything that has to do with steak! Colombian cuisine is very meaty, so that’s where my love comes from. If I have a signature dish, something I like to cook, it’s a Colombian recipe called arepas — which are corn cakes.
Is there a region you would like to visit because of the food?
Yes! I’m very curious to visit Asia because the cuisine isn’t something I know how to make. I’ve eaten a lot of it, though! When I was studying my master’s degree in Barcelona many friends of mine were Asian students and we were always going to Asian restaurants.
As a woman, have you felt supported working at DHL Consulting?
Yes. As an example, I’m an Elevate intern. Elevate is program which is designed specifically for women and gives female interns special access to two mentors within the company. Having two mentors to talk to, who are associate partners, has been extremely helpful. It’s also empowering to know that so many women are in senior positions within the company — including Sabine Mueller, our CEO, of course. It’s one of the key things that influenced me, as a woman, to apply to DHLC. Having female-friendly initiatives at entry level is all very well, but women have to envision themselves growing in a company and reaching managerial roles. At DHLC, women can see that the glass ceiling has already been broken, and that leadership positions are a possibility for us.
How do you make sure you have a healthy work/life balance?
Consulting can be busy. It’s just the way it is. I want to make wellbeing a priority, so I try to go for a run every day if possible, even if it’s just a short one. So unless there’s something very urgent that needs taking care of in the evening, I make sure that everything comes to a hard stop and I’ll go out for a run. Also we’re encouraged to work from home whenever we want to, as long as it’s aligned with work requirements. Apart from running, I’ll experiment with cooking — although that’s something I mainly do at the weekends.
What’s next for you?
I leave DHL Consulting in August and then I’ll be attending the graduation ceremony in London for my second master’s degree. After that, who knows — although in five years I would like to be in a junior managerial position. Right now, I’m currently exploring my career options.