Einride Portraits: Philipp-Christian, Business development
Einride Portraits: Philipp-Christian, Business development
What’s it like to go from selling coffee and metals to selling sustainable business transformation and intelligent freight capacity? Hamburg-based senior business development manager Philipp-Christian Diehl reflects on the parallels between his current role at Einride and his past life as a commodities trader.
What is your role?
I am a senior business development manager for Region DACH. That covers the German-speaking part of Central Europe: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I started in April 2022, and I’m based in Hamburg.
Has Germany always been home for you?
I was born in Munich but grew up in Hamburg. Yet, for the majority of my adult life, I’ve lived in different countries. I attended boarding school in England, studied at a language school in Italy, worked and traveled in Australia, studied in Switzerland and Scotland, and lived/worked for fair amounts of time in Switzerland, South Africa and Sweden.
What had you been doing prior to joining Einride?
Einride is a new direction in my career, as I had previously worked in traditional industries such as the coffee industry – in particular, green bean trading and supply – as well as trading of metal commodities, which is one of the oldest forms of economic activity. So I’ve been exposed to logistics and supply chains through my past sales roles – essentially, moving goods from A to B in a timely and economically profitable manner. It was from this perspective that I was able to see some of the blaring issues with the transportation of goods.
I could see how unsustainable the industry was – and how it was lacking in transparency, predictability, and efficiency. I got a first-hand glimpse into how urgently something needed to be done.
How would you compare trading commodities to working for Einride and being a transformation partner to shippers?
I would say that with both, you need to build and nurture relationships in very empathetic ways. However, one difference is that commodities can be – at times – very transactional. You often find that you sell and then move on to the next thing. But with Einride, there is a much higher focus on the ongoing customer journey as the transition does not happen overnight.
We help businesses make the switch to intelligent and sustainable freight, guiding and supporting them right throughout the journey – which includes providing or overseeing all the necessary infrastructure components and operational resources, such as electric trucks, charging, drivers, and digital intelligence.
Not only do we move the freight capacity for them, but we help them scale up their electric operations over time, in a way that makes the most sense when it comes to their sustainability objectives and their bottom line. It can feel incredibly rewarding working with clients in this very involved way, but it also presents unique challenges.
What drew you to Einride?
Like many people, when I was thinking about where to take my career, I was drawn to the idea of causes close to my heart. And then I thought about the type of role I’d like to do, which speaks to what I’m good at. So I figured if I can combine “doing what I’m good at” with “driving a cause forward” then surely it’s the perfect match.
So from that perspective, I thought of sales roles. And, in terms of being able to drive a cause forward, this mission that we have – to create sustainable transport solutions – seemed like the perfect playground: somewhere I could close deals while helping businesses achieve their sustainability goals. Somewhere that could leverage my sales experience as well as my exposure to logistics, in a way that effects change for the better. I knew I’d found the right company for me.
What aspects of the job appeal to you?
I love the culture of openness. You can ask any question, and you can try new things and see how they fly. The entrepreneurial nature of Einride is important to me. It’s an entrepreneurial company, and it’s a large team of people who think with an entrepreneurial mindset. At Einride, you don't really get told what to do. It’s the opposite of being micromanaged.
In the Commercial team, you are trusted to decide the best way to approach customers, how to open up business opportunities, and so forth. If something doesn’t work out, you won’t get scolded the next day. You’re encouraged to build from the learnings. There’s a freedom that’s almost exhilarating – and I do believe it enables us to achieve the best business outcomes. Because we are trusted to drive initiatives and think outside the box. I also believe that having freedom is the best way to grow, as long as you have support available when you need it.
What about when your ideas don’t quite go according to plan?
At Einride, we are often reminded that having one of your ideas fail… does not make you a failure. In many cases, failing is a testament to your courage – for daring to reach for something that many wouldn’t dream of. So with that in mind, when things fail, we move forward. And I see the company as a representation of this. We wouldn’t have our autonomous vehicle operational at customer sites and being piloted on public roads had it not been for our spirit of always thinking big.
What would you say to those who are hesitant about working in this sector?
Transportation is one of the most important industries in the world. Everything you eat, everything you wear, your shampoo – these all rely on goods transportation. And the importance of the industry was really highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential for transformation is massive, especially when you have such an important industry but one that just hasn’t been given the attention it deserves when it comes to technological advancement.
The industry hasn’t experienced a major disruption since the standardization of the shipping container, way back in the 1950s. So to be able to have the opportunity to come into this industry as it faces not one but three major disruptions all at once – digitalization, EV technology, and autonomous driving technology – is a remarkable and very challenging opportunity.
Perhaps it wasn’t a “cool” industry before – one could certainly argue that it was lacking in diversity – but the past doesn’t have to dictate the future. I believe that Einride is one company that is helping to make logistics and transportation really exciting by inviting more people into the conversation – including people of different experiences and backgrounds – and opening the door to a world of possibilities.
What’s it like working from Hamburg, given the head office is in Stockholm?
The company is absolutely supportive of me and others spending time in Stockholm, whenever it feels fitting. I think it’s incredibly important to meet your team, build a face-to-face rapport and great working relationships, even if such interactions might be weeks or months apart.
We just had a post-summer all-staff kickoff in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was more than 450 team members – including those based in Sweden, those based in other parts of Europe, and our US-based colleagues – all sitting in the audience of one conference room!
What are some of your hobbies and interests?
One of my big interests is art collecting. Some of that is the influence of my grandfather and mom, who are avid collectors of art. Music is another form of art I have a great appreciation of. Anything from classical to house, deep house and disco.
Besides enjoying a variety of sports, I’m also very keen on golf. I find it calming and meditative. I like the fact that you're ultimately playing against yourself – even in a tournament. Golf is a very psychological game – you need to know precisely when to push and when to remain settled.
In sales, in golf, and in skiing – another passion of mine – there’s a focus on having a game plan to help you navigate toward your objective. But at the same time, you can’t possibly plan for every single eventuality. Conditions – whether it’s your physical surroundings, unforeseen circumstances, or the mindsets of those you’re in dialogue with – can change suddenly. You just have to adapt as you go!
Would you like to join Philipp-Christian in driving change to a critical industry? We are always on the lookout for spirited and ambitious people who can bring relevant expertise to our team. Check out the Einride careers page to see our open positions.