When careers meet hypergrowth: developing within an expanding business

02 Jul 2019

by Robin Nierynck

Timo Chambers joined the Delivery Hero Group in 2015, and saw the business grow and expand significantly in recent years.

Rapid scaling of a company comes with challenges as well as opportunities. Timo is currently VP Logistics & Restaurants – we talk about how his role has changed over the years, the most important ingredients for a successful career, and what the future of logistics holds.

Hi Timo, you’re VP Logistics at Delivery Hero. What exactly does your role entail?

Delivery Hero started as a marketplace, which means it connected customers with restaurants, which then delivered the orders themselves. Over the last 5 years the business has transformed a lot and currently 30% of Delivery Hero’s orders are being delivered by our own fleet. The advantage of own delivery is that we can deliver faster and be more transparent about the delivery process. My department is responsible for the fulfillment of all these orders, from the moment they are placed until they arrive at the customer’s doorstep – and all of this as fast and efficient as possible. Our mission is to stand out from competitors by offering a better service level and a more efficient fleet.

My role covers the product, operations, data science and business intelligence part of the logistics business unit. We develop all the products, models and processes necessary to run and optimize a fleet of currently more than 100,000 active riders delivering more than 3 million orders a week on 5 continents.

You started at foodora (back then called volo) in 2015 as Head of Operations Berlin. What did your day-to-day work look like back then?

Timo Chambers

The day to day back then was quite different. You had hardly any products to work with and had to do most things manually, be it dispatching, recruiting, scheduling of the fleet, drawing of delivery areas etc. Even though it was a different scale back then it was quite a challenge to cope with the growth and expansion.

Looking back, this experience was absolutely key for the job I am doing today. If you want to optimize and automate processes you first need to have done them yourself. A lot of people who started back then in similar roles are in the central logistics team today and this hands on mentality is something I am looking for in all our new hires as well.

foodora joined Delivery Hero end of 2015. How did that change your work?

What I felt was a huge push for efficiency on the logistics side. Back then it still had to be proven that the business model of own delivery can actually be profitable. It was an intense time where we developed the first versions of our current products and algorithms, such as central forecasting, automatic dispatching, automatic shift scheduling and evaluation, forecasting of restaurant cooking times and many more. We were able to prove to our investors that it is possible to make money with own delivery, which was key for scaling this part of the business so much in recent years.

Our mission is to stand out from competitors by offering a better service level and a more efficient fleet.

Timo Chambers

Another big change came a few months later after foodpanda became part of Delivery Hero. The foodora and foodpanda teams joined forces and started to look into new markets such as South America and MENA. It was quite a challenging time and looking back I’m very proud of how well it worked out.

You managed to help the business scale up and at the same time grow your own career. Were there any challenges that came along your way?

Of course there are challenges all the time. Over the last four years my role, but also the business itself, has been changing constantly. This of course makes it challenging but also keeps it exciting.

Most recently I took over the restaurant business unit in addition to logistics. Combining these two areas really means owning fulfillment. I mentioned earlier that Delivery Hero started as a marketplace company. By now it is transforming into a true platform company, meaning owning the demand but also the supply side (Kitchens, Virtual Restaurants, Groceries, Dark Stores etc.). Fulfillment lies between these two sides and has to be the enabler. That’s my next big challenge ahead.

What do you personally consider as the most important ingredients for a career?

I don’t think that there is one recipe. Building a career involves skill, hard work, taking opportunities but also luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time.

It was lucky for me that a small, unknown startup I applied to evolved into the big company it is today. Advancing so fast would not have been possible in a normal corporate environment.

Looking back, this experience was absolutely key for the job I am doing today.

Of course, the dedication and work I put into these roles was not luck. You have to be willing to go the extra mile and grab opportunities as they come along. Fortunately my team saw my potential and gave me the chance to develop.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

Logistics and fulfilment is a very interesting and challenging area. The whole sector and especially Delivery Hero have such a fast pace, things are changing so rapidly – you need to adapt to be able to keep up.

What I really like about it is the combination of complex algorithm with hands-on operations. In this business neither of the two can be successful without the other.

In addition to that I really enjoy the concept of the business unit that we developed at Delivery Hero. Combining tech, product, design, operations and data inside single teams to provide a setup in which each area can add the most value, creates a very efficient working environment.

Last but not least of course there are the people you work with. I think no matter how interesting your job is, in the end the people you work with make the difference. At Delivery Hero you work with people from so many different areas and backgrounds. A lot of people have been around for years and have gone through the same exciting journey.

How will logistics evolve over the next few years?

I think the more exciting question for logistics is how Delivery Hero will evolve. All the new business areas will force logistics to become more flexible and customizable and discover new areas of optimization such as efficiency of shoppers/pickers, 10 min delivery, bundling of orders and much more. Of course, if we talk about the evolution of logistics itself, an interesting question will be when and how drones will present an alternative or rather addition to our current fleet.