Interview with Clemens Först, the Spokesman of the Board of Rail Cargo Group
Clemens Först is, in his role as Spokesman of the Board of Rail Cargo Group, in charge of the Finance division as well as the group functions Service Design and Sales Operations, which are responsible for planning. He is also responsible for the Business Units STEA und Intermodal and the digital transformation of Rail Cargo Group. He has held CXO positions in the European rail logistics sector since 2012 and has had many years of experience in logistics on a global scale.
Rail Cargo Group belongs to the biggest employers in the logistics industry in your home markets Austria and Hungary with far over 1000 employees in each of the two markets, do you have a special human resource strategy for your two home markets?
We are present in 18 countries worldwide with our own 5,755 employees from 34 nations, with significantly over 1.000 of them each in Austria and Hungary. Since our transports are predominantly international, working together as one, international RCG team is at the core of our people strategy – both, in our home markets and globally.
As an international logistics company you have offices in many European countries and recently also opened your first branch office in Shanghai, how do you ensure the highest employee quality in your international markets?
We have traction companies in 13 European countries and are present as a rail logistics company in 18 countries worldwide. We trust our local management teams to pick the best candidates but support with regional HR teams, best practices and exchange as well as trainee programs group-wide.
At WOF Summit Vienna you are part of the discussion panel “Human Resources in Logistics: Sustainability & Digitalization as Drivers to Attract Young Talents” – can you give us a short outlook on how you position Rail Cargo Group on this topic?
Our vision is to be the sustainable logistical backbone of the European economy – for a Europe worth living in. This vision gives purpose to the whole RCG team and attracts many young talents to RCG. Job applicants further value the international and cross-functional nature of our work and we invest heavily in digitalization. It is our ambition to be the best platform for our team members, allowing them to focus on selling, designing and delivering exciting logistics solutions. In return we expect them to be truly #RAILCORE, that is a) be the go-to partner for our customers, b) operate profitably so that we as a group are able to reinvest and c) create an unparalleled team environment.
There is the famous HR quote “People join companies and leave Managers”, how do you ensure within the Rail Cargo Group that young talents and high potentials stay with the company and have a personal career plan?
Regarding the joining part we offer young professionals a job with purpose – in terms of sustainability and securing supply chains. We offer the attractive opportunity to learn the freight forwarding trade as apprentice or to join as young academic the international trainee programme with the main emphasis on logistics, business administration and transport planning. Once settled in their job, employees can take part of our international talent program, building up their network in the RCG or gain insights in other domains via Job Shadowing or working in cross-cultural teams, so that career options become visible and they can form their own individual career within our group.
To minimize the chance of unwanted attrition, we invest significantly in training our leadership team at all levels. Regular „leadership impulses“ are given followed by group-coachings.
Overall, what do you consider the biggest challenge for Rail Cargo Group in the field of human resources in the near future?
Externally, the biggest challenges are securing capacity on the European rail network and closing the price gap between electricity and diesel to regain competitiveness vs. road. Internally it will always remain about attracting, exciting and retaining top talent in all areas – also for manual tasks such as shunting or wagon inspection.
Last, but not least – why should people choose Rail Cargo Group as their favorite company to work for?
Rail Cargo Group is the leading rail logistics player in Europe, shaping the industry and constantly working on improving our service offering, internal processes and the way we work together as one international team. If you care about sustainability, logistics, innovation and digitalization, there is no better place to be.
We all share the same spirit. WE are #RAILCORE
ÖBB freight transport, a leading provider of rail logistics in Europe, is offering logistics solutions from the first mile to the last for a wide range of industries across the whole Eurasian continent. They are a multimodal provider of rail logistics and, depending on the transport route, use land, water or air. The focus lies on the world’s most environmentally friendly means of transport – the railway. Thanks to their traction companies in 13 European countries, their presence in 18 countries, their own terminals and logistics centres, their fleet and staff, the majority of our transports are 100 % in their hands.