My Hero Journey: “When you start your first job, be ready to go the extra mile”
Laurén Schmidt started her career at Delivery Hero as an intern and now – barely two years later – manages global projects. She recently spent three months in Asia to launch new initiatives and accelerate collaboration with the local teams. We talked to Laurén about career paths, opportunities, learnings – and jet lag.
Laurén, you’re Global Operations Manager in the Global Food Services Team. What does your role entail?
One of my team’s main focus areas is developing solutions that aim at optimizing kitchens for food delivery: Based on profound data analysis we are able to find spots in a city that are most suitable for food delivery. Here, we build kitchen facilities and provide these spaces to our top performing restaurant partners.
As Global Operations Manager it is my responsibility to oversee the expansion of the shared kitchens model on an international level. I support our local teams with data insights and decision-making, provide them with standardized operating procedures and facilitate cross-departmental communication. Apart from that, I also analyze the operational and financial performance of our kitchens and identify potential for improvements.
“Since my first day I had to manage quite a high level of responsibility, which I loved.”
When did you join Delivery Hero, and how has your role changed since then?
I joined Delivery Hero in February 2018 as an intern in the Global Food Services team. I had just finished my bachelor studies in International Hospitality Management when I decided to switch my focus to the food tech industry – so, it was my first job after graduation and I was super excited about this opportunity. In the beginning we were a very small team, which came with the opportunity for me to look into a range of different tasks (from market research over sales to project management), as well as with a high level of responsibility.
I transitioned quickly into a full-time position where I was managing our kitchen projects in Germany. However, after the sale of Delivery Hero’s German operations, I had to close the projects, which was not easy for me. But I soon figured that great opportunities were lying ahead for my professional career, since I was now able to play an active role in our kitchen expansion globally. Eventually, I got promoted to Global Operations Manager with a focus on our markets in APAC and Europe.
While your career changed so quickly, what encouraged you to be confident in yourself?
I was lucky to be managed by experienced and competent leaders who encouraged me by letting me work independently and giving me constant feedback. At Delivery Hero, there are so many opportunities to improve your skills and explore your strengths, for example through internal trainings. Also, since my first day I had to manage quite a high level of responsibility, which I loved. The more challenging my tasks are, the more motivated I am – and the better I perform.
What would you say was the biggest learning for you during this time?
I actually had two major learnings: First, when one door closes, another one opens. When I had to end my projects due to the sale of our German operations, I could have been frustrated – but instead, I was looking for my next challenge and found it! Second, communication is key. I can only drive change when I’m open to it. Giving feedback and asking for feedback are crucial for personal growth.
You work on global projects. What exactly does that mean for you on a day-to-day basis?
It means that we have to be flexible and really understand the local markets. There are some challenges we need to tackle, for example when it comes to the technical implementation, as we always need to adjust our projects to the local platforms. There are also a lot of peculiarities in the countries when it comes to authorities and legal matters. And, of course, different cultures come with different styles of working and communications.
We in the central team in Berlin want to provide the best possible support to each of our markets – that means we need to adjust our projects, processes, and the way we collaborate. This is something you can only learn by experiencing it. That’s why I spent the last three months on and off in Asia, mainly in Singapore. Travelling to our local teams helps me understand the market and competitive situation, be closer to the project or product and also build personal relationships to the teams, so we can share learnings and work together even more efficiently.
“People order more and more – and restaurants need to adapt to this trend. Here’s where our kitchen projects come into play.”
What did you learn during your time in Asia?
Well, to begin with: I got really experienced in handling jet lag! For me, it was the first time that I had to go back and forth to a different time zone for work. Plus, I was surprised by how much I can actually fit into one day: Besides working, I tried to squeeze in as much time for exploring the city as possible. Overall, these three months have been absolutely beneficial for my personal and professional growth: Being able to work in a different culture, experiencing another organizational setup and gaining so many valuable operational insights make be feel even more confident in my role now.
What are some trends you observe that will impact your field of business?
I see a tremendous increase in meals that are being delivered. People order more and more – and restaurants need to adapt to this trend. Here’s where our kitchen projects come into play, as they offer these additional capacities and are optimized for the delivery business. I also believe that the industry will continue to drive automation – whether that’s through robots or drones or something we may not even think about yet.
Any ideas of where your Hero Journey could go next?
We work in such a fast paced environment, which opens up new opportunities all the time – so, you never know what could happen. I would love to lead my own team one day, and I think my time at Delivery Hero helps me to grow into this role. I learned to adapt to new challenges and use chances as they come along. I am curious to see what the future holds!
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to graduates who are starting their first job?
That’s simple: Just go for it! I had only finished my studies and was new to the industry, but worked hard and believed in myself. I also think that having very clear career paths in mind is not necessarily a good thing, because this might keep you from changing directions. When you start your first job, the most powerful advice I can give to you is: Ask as much as possible! Ask for help, ask for information, ask for feedback – and always be ready to go the extra mile.