Larissa Fabian – BSc (Hons) Maritime Business and Logistics graduate

Current employer: Dachser SE

Current job title: Sea freight Import Co-ordinator

Current location: Dusseldorf, Germany

“Before coming to Plymouth, I did a two and half year-long apprenticeship in a freight forwarding company in Germany and was offered a position afterwards; however, I decided not to accept it but instead move to England. Not many people know what a German apprenticeship is, but a (British) bachelors degree everyone can relate to.”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I started working as a sea freight Export Co-ordinator for Kuehne & Nagel UK Ltd (Bristol Branch) straight after finishing my final exams and stayed in this position for two years. For personal reasons I then moved to Canada, meaning that I had to quit my job in the UK. After just a few weeks in Toronto, I found a position as a Traffic Co-ordinator (ocean import) with DB Schenker, a temporary job in which I worked for three months. I then worked with Kuehne & Nagel as a Sea freight Export Co-ordinator in their Toronto branch. I am now living and working back in Dusseldorf, Germany. Returning back to where I'm from is not the same as never having left – I love being back and continuing my career here. I decided to find a job in a medium-sized company rather than working for one of the big corporations again, and it is a different experience, work culture and atmosphere. Not better, just different, and that suits me well at the moment.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

I have stayed in the same field but the job requirements have varied greatly between the Bristol (UK) and Toronto (Canada) branches, simply because our customers’ requirements in Canada are very different to the ones in the UK – local legislation is somewhat different and nearly all our shipments include a rail component, for example. In total, I spent about seven years abroad, including my time at University of Plymouth and I would say that these years helped to shape myself, my viewpoints, my career and my outlook on life. Sure, I am still finding my feet in the German freight forwarding market right now, but my international experiences did help me to find the kind of job I was after and dealing with all kinds of situations at work. Therefore, I am still learning a lot and developing my career within sea freight export operations.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Getting my feet into the Canadian labour market. It was very hard to convince an employer to hire me without any Canadian experience whatsoever and with a temporary working permit. Then, when I did find a job, I was thrown into the deep end and expected to work a full desk from literally day three, even though I had never worked in ocean freight imports before and also did not know the company’s software. With a lot of overtime and willpower I managed to find my way though it, and it was a good experience to work for this company for a while.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

To interrupt my career to attend university. Before coming to Plymouth, I did a two and half year-long apprenticeship in a freight forwarding company in Germany and was offered a position afterwards; however, I decided not to accept it but instead move to England, both to improve my English and to advance my career and to experience new things. I don’t regret it!

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

Not much. I came to Plymouth with work experience and I did a variety of internships whilst at university – I knew why I was there and I made use of a lot of the educational and extra-curricular activities which were on offer, that perhaps I wouldn’t have if I had gone to university straight after school. The only thing I can think of is that I should not have neglected my French language skills because here, in Ontario, you have a lot more job opportunities if you are English/French bilingual.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

It’s a very big field, even just freight forwarding – without taking into account the whole logistics industry. I would try and complete a lot of internships to establish which area (for example, which mode of transport) you like best and, if possible, I would also try to work abroad, as the differences can be stunning and enlightening.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

It helped me to develop myself and my educational and language skills. At Plymouth, I met people from countries all over the world; I had the opportunity to participate in interesting projects and activities, most notably the Shanghai Summer School, and worked in the University’s halls of residence. For me, coming to Plymouth was not all about getting a degree, but also about new experiences. Educationally, though, it can never hurt to have a degree, especially if you want to develop yourself internationally. Not many people know what a German apprenticeship is, but a (British) bachelors degree everyone can relate to.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

All the extra-curricular activities that were on offer, such as the various clubs and societies as well as the student exchanges (amongst other countries I visited, I spent four weeks in Shanghai at a summer school organised by the University and Shanghai Maritime University), working part time in the halls of residence and meeting people from all over the world.