Trainees at Royal Burger Group

Royal Burger Group is an international company that specializes in maritime and logistic services. In total some 450 people work within the group, divided amongst the four business units Liner Agencies, Port Agencies, Logistic Services and Ferry Agencies.

In 2008 Royal Burger Group started offering Management Traineeships to young potentials having studied college or university and who already have some experience in the maritime or logistics branch. The idea is to allocate one trainee per business unit and to train these people in a staff function called Marketing & Development. After approximately two years, they move into a line position in one of the business units.

A couple of months ago, the second batch trainees started: Marina Shapovalova (23) for Port Agencies, Jin Yong Chi (27) for Liner Agencies and John Smid (28) for Logistic Services. Burger is still looking for a trainee for their Ferry Agencies unit.

To get a better idea of the traineeships, we have interviewed the three current trainees.

What is your background in terms of studies and working experience?

Jin Yong: After completing my master “Strategy and Organizations” at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2007, I started as management trainee within AP Møller Group (Maersk). During that period I had several different positions, varying from operations to finance.

John: I studied Business Administration (BA) at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and graduated as Master of Science from the Supply Chain Management master course in 2009. After that, I had several jobs/ projects before I came here. For example, during six months I worked on a maintenance strategy research project for a large garbage recycling firm.

Marina: This is my first full time job; during my studies International Business and Languages I became acquainted with the port industry through a Deltalinqs dinner where students were invited to get in contact with business men from the port industry.

How did you find the vacancy within Burger?

Jin Yong: I was looking for a job where I would have the opportunity to work with business development aspects and to get involved with business strategy, in combination with room for own creativity. I found this new opportunity via Eagle Recruitment Agency.

John: After placing my CV on Monsterboard I was contacted by a intermediary who introduced me to the Human Resources department of Royal Burger Group.

Marina: As I wrote my thesis for Royal Burger Group, I stayed interested, visited the website and applied for the  vacancy of Management Trainee for Port Agencies.

Can you describe a regular working day?

 Jin Yong: In this position we don’t have a fixed list of daily tasks to handle but it’s more project based. Besides these projects we are assisting management with ad hoc information requests and other pending issues. We are also free to set up our own projects and implement our own ideas.

John: The Logistic Services department has multiple subsidiaries that cover almost all links of the supply chain. For example, the business unit includes a warehouse, airfreight forwarders, freight forwarders and customs clearance specialists. My job is to review or conduct research for specific parts of the business or to assist with projects. We are also responsible for the monthly financial reporting to our managers and the board of directors.

Marina: As trainees we are responsible for assisting with the financial reporting for our own business unit. Furthermore, every day is different: we are working on projects where we support with statistics, research and of course business development.

Can you mention some projects that you are currently working on?

Jin Yong: At this moment I have several projects running. One of the main projects is the preparations for a joint venture. My role is to manage and monitor the project progress and to solve daily issues on behalf of the CEO. Other projects are related to cost saving initiatives and other process projects to further improve our operations.

John: As per 1 January 2011 our warehouse moved from  a relatively simple warehouse in Spijkenisse to a more complex warehouse with high bay racks in Pernis. This move has had many consequences for the operational processes. Also the move of all inventory and allocating it to the correct spot conform our hazardous goods license proved to be quite a challenge. I started my traineeship right around the time of the moving. This was a perfect timing to assist in reviewing the operational processes and the design of the Warehouse Management System.

Marina: I am working on improving the use of a CRM system (customer relationship management), ad hoc assignments for the board of directors, department meetings and financial reporting.

What do you like about working for Royal Burger Group?

Jin Yong: First of all, the space and freedom to act, setup projects and implement your own ideas is definitely the number one reason! Directly receiving a huge amount of responsibility from day one, gave me trust and confidence to perform. Secondly, communication lines with the management team are personal and short, which enable me to act quickly.

John: A no nonsense approach is mentioned in the core values of Royal Burger Group. This is translated in a flat organizational structure where everybody, from CEO to operator, is easily approachable and communication lines are kept short. This creates a personal and pleasant working environment  where initiatives are encouraged. In my case specifically there is a lot of variation in the day-to-day operations. One day I am discussing strategy on group level with the CEO and the next day I am helping out on the work floor in the warehouse. For me that is something I really enjoy.

Marina: The core values are really representing the mentality of the people, being no nonsense, respect & integrity and commitment & pride. Not only this mentality appeals to me, but also the openness, low hierarchy and the room for own initiative.

Do you have any idea which direction you would like to go after finalizing the traineeship?

Jin Yong: The function which I have in mind after finalizing the traineeship is in the direction of liner operation / process improvement in combination with business development / commercial aspects: positions on the long term would be liner operations manager, project or  line manager.

John: My ambition is to use this traineeship to gather as much experience and knowledge as possible in order to form a solid base and work towards a position as operational manager.

Marina: I would like to go abroad. The Unique Selling Point for Burger Port Agencies is being a partner in S5: a world-wide agency network. I would like to work for one of the partners to see how they deal with the business and if and how we could learn from each other.

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