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KHS Group

“After so many years I still like working for KHS.”

Katja Kuhlmann

Head of Goods Category Management Direct Materials | Purchasing and Logistics | Dortmund, Germany

What job do you do and why did you opt for this particular career?

I’m head of Goods Category Management Direct Materials in the Purchasing and Logistics Division and have been with KHS for almost 25 years now. I started out on a work-study program and was one of the first to complete this type of course in the company. During my training I worked in a number of different departments, during which I developed an interest in purchasing. After finishing my degree in 1999, I first started working in Service Sales. I switched departments after just two years, however, and took up a position as team manager in Purchasing. At the time, this gave me the chance to develop further in my career. I’m still doing so – and still like working for KHS even after so many years.

What’s a typical working day like?

We don’t have a typical working day. There are of course days when basic jobs and topics have to be tackled, such as drawing up contracts and agreements or issuing invitations to tender, but most working days are very different and varied. During my day at work, I otherwise address management issues, perform analytical tasks, visit and negotiate with suppliers or deal with spontaneous challenges on an installation site or in production, such as when delivery of a project could be at risk. It’s this variety that makes my job so interesting. I’m often confronted with new challenges that I tackle to find and point out all kinds of different solutions.

“In strategic purchasing we make a direct contribution to the company's success.”

What do you like about your work in particular?

That in strategic purchasing we make a direct contribution of value to the company's success. I also get to work and communicate with lots of different people both in our team and outside the company. I find this fun and it repeatedly acts as a source of motivation. Above and beyond the various goods categories and through our product portfolio you come into contact with very different people, positions and functions. I especially enjoy helping employees and colleagues and assisting them in their professional careers.

Setting up Goods Category Management as part of our purchasing organization some time ago was a task I found particularly exciting. This development proved extremely interesting from the devising of the initial concept (creation of the organizational structure) to understanding employees’ new roles and tasks. Goods category management also means working in a business that creates demand and having a market that stipulates the supply. With the right procurement strategy we can bring these two aspects into line and generate value for the company.

Planning and implementing our supplier days is just as exciting, where we provide our suppliers with information on topics specific to KHS and engage in final negotiations. For here we give select suppliers/partners the chance to gain a detailed insight into the world of KHS and to strengthen our joint cooperation and identify further potential areas of optimization.

What makes your job so interesting?

I think that my job’s so interesting because it’s so diverse. We have an extremely broad range of tasks and responsibilities. We deal with technical issues but also have to be able to work analytically. We work with lots of different people and together with our internal stakeholders at KHS we define strategies for the individual goods categories with the products we purchase here. After all, in the Direct Materials Department we deal with the materials, parts and assemblies that flow directly into our own products. What’s more, we also procure the appropriate software used directly in the end products for our customers. Our tasks thus cover the full spectrum of production supply. In performing these, we always have to ask ourselves how we can reach long-term agreements for KHS at the best possible prices and form and maintain a good partnership with our suppliers. This is sometimes quite a challenge – but is also great fun!

What would you advise job applicants or those interested in purchasing if they’re not yet sure if this is the right thing for them?

It’s definitely a good idea and also necessary to have a certain basic qualification in this field. I’d thus advise anyone interested in a career in strategic purchasing to first do an internship. If you’ve already tackled the diverse aspects of purchasing as part of a degree course, for instance, this is definitely also an advantage. The prospective employee should also be able to think strategically, enjoy addressing the various issues on a conceptional level and not be afraid to confront suppliers and colleagues. The ability to function in a team – and enjoy doing so – is also important when you work in purchasing. You should always be curious about and open to new issues and interested in also working on complex projects of a longer duration. If you’re looking for a job that’s extremely varied and multifaceted, if you love a challenge and aren’t averse to traveling for business, you’ll undoubtedly feel at home in strategic purchasing.

Site Dortmund in brief

Employees

1,300

Trainees

85

Average years of service with the company

18 years

Company premises

113,304 m2

Founded

1868

Product portfolio

Bottle washers, Pasteurizers, Labelers and inspection technology, Conveyor technology

KHS GmbH Juchostr. 20 | 44143 Dortmund | Germany