Faces, stories, teams and talents

Interview with Gerrit Heinke
  • Gerrit Heinke
  • department head 
  • with FIEGE for 20 years

MR HEINKE, COULD YOU OUTLINE YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER FOR US?

Born in 1975 in Greven, and went to school there, too. After that I attended commercial college in Emsdetten, did my national service and then started working at FIEGE.

WHAT IS YOUR POSITION HERE AT THE COMPANY?

Currently I am head of two departments. I have around 60 people working on my team.

JUST HOW DID YOU GET TO JOIN FIEGE? YOU MENTIONED BEFORE THAT YOU ARE THE THIRD GENERATION WORKING HERE?

My grandfather worked in the warehouse here already. My father started working in freight forwarding in the seventies, which back then was still on Grüne Weg. At the time, FIEGE was based in Greven, Hamburg and Bremen only. My father went along and moved to Reckenfeld and worked at FIEGE until he retired. It is more by coincidence that I ended up working for FIEGE. Of course, I was familiar with the name FIEGE and always worked here during my holidays. One day, when I went to pick up my dad from work, the head of forwarding said to me: “Have you finished your training and your national service? How do you feel about coming to work for us? You could start the week after next. We are getting a new customer here, too.” They then showed me around and that really caught my interest. Since then, I have been on board.

WHAT TRAINING DO YOU HAVE?

I trained as a wholesale and import/export trader and learned with a company based in Greven.

GREAT SO THAT’S AN OBVIOUS FIT.

Yes, precisely. Logistics was also a topic covered during the training there. And as for the rest, you learn that here.

WHY IS FIEGE A GOOD MATCH FOR YOU?

FIEGE is a good match for me because FIEGE, despite its growth, continues to have that family-like feel. You realise that when dealing with one another and in the structures. That is why it is a company of which I can clearly say that it’s a good fit not just for me, but also for the region. I would not have been here for this long if I didn’t like it here.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU IN YOUR WORK?

The most important thing for me is that we choose the best possible path for the entire team and for the customer. There are always things that don’t connect. Customers have their ideas; the government has its own ideas; colleagues have their ideas; the Management again, has its ideas. The most important thing to me is that all external and internal points come together and find the best possible way, the best solution. Communication – a direct exchange – is the key here.

MEANING THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO ENGAGE IN A RESPECTFUL EXCHANGE WITH EACH OTHER AND TREATMENT OF EACH OTHER?

Precisely. And if ever something is not quite right or if a job is not done well, nobody has an issue admitting it: “I made the wrong choice there. What do you think?” It’s also important to ask others for feedback, and especially to have everyone take part in the decisions and involve them in the process to a certain degree. Everything that they decide or reject themselves, they will not go back on later. But if you just inform people of a decision, everyone can say: “Those up there thought of that.”

DO YOU SEE YOUR JOB AS EXCITING?

My job is so action-packed, you have no idea. There are the structured things that you do day in, day out – but everything else that happens is exactly where the fun is. Hardly a day goes by as was planned. Something hits you from the outside every day, from the top, from the bottom and that is exactly what makes this so special. I just couldn’t do a dull job in bookkeeping where I start the morning with a pile of paper on the left side of the desk, and by the evening, the pile is on the right side. Of course, logistics can be very erratic at times, very stressful and there are situations where you think: so much to do, so little time to do it. But the bottom line is, the job is flexible and exciting. Even for someone who likes dealing with people. Especially when it comes to the topic of integration. I have 15 different nationalities on the team and it’s smooth sailing. If you want to. I enjoy that.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO BALANCE WORK?

I have a family and our dog. That is what, in fact, balances me. It helps me to switch off completely and that is an absolute must. The life-work balance simply has to fit. If you work hard every day and at times are under a lot of pressure, you need to make a point of coming back down. So taking the dog for a walk in the countryside, going for a stroll, or doing stuff with the kids… that’s it for me.

A CLEAR SEPARATION BETWEEN WORK AND PLAY?

Right, that is what it takes. Just like when it comes to the holidays. I am genuinely on holiday then. Except if there are some personal projects in the pipeline. Otherwise, my mind is set to holiday mode. That is a given .

IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE FIEGE IN A SINGLE WORD, WHAT WOULD THAT SPONTANEOUSLY BE FOR YOU?

Innovation.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PERSONAL INTERESTS APART FROM YOUR FAMILY? DO YOU LIKE TO READ?

I am a die-hard science fiction fan, Battletech, for example. That is a very big series that plays in 3054. I am reading that. Or something from a different segment, like Peter Scholl-Latour, social history and politics. Those two might be complete opposites, but I enjoy reading something like that every now and then.

IF ANYONE FROM YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS WERE TO SAY THEY ARE THINKING OF APPLYING WITH FIEGE, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM OR HER?

Well, our neighbour will be starting here in a good week from now.