Too young to run a business? Manager at the age of 21
Six years after graduating from secondary school, Magdalena Schöberl became operations manager at a BayWa building materials site.She was just 21 years old at the time. Juggling figures is at the centre of her work, as she has to calculate quotations, orders and purchase orders for her customers on a daily basis. Her age was never an issue for her team and the customers quickly got used to it.
Large and flooded with light: a workplace that makes you instantly feel good
Schöberl: My work is a numbers game. Due to the shortage of goods [as of 2022] in the construction industry, which has persisted for around two years, more than ever. At our building materials site in the Upper Palatinate, we have 8,000 square metres of open-air storage space and 800 square metres of office space, including a specialist store with an exhibition for building elements and flooring as well as social rooms, and are the point of contact for private and commercial customers. The company was newly built in 2021, is large and flooded with light. I simply feel at home here.
One of the most important tasks is to read customers
We calculate quotations, orders and purchase orders for our customers: Whether insulation materials or roof tiles, we sometimes had to order months in advance on spec in order to have enough goods available for our customers. Fortunately, things have turned around and many things are available again. But we have also mastered such difficult times.
As sales assistants, our most important task is to read our customers. Some people enter the store with questioning eyes, their eyes wander over the shelves – they are looking for the boss. Some are surprised when I stand in front of them. After all, my former boss retired last year and I succeeded him as Operations Manager in September 2021. I experienced situations like this more often at the beginning, but now our regular customers know me. For my team of 16, however, my age was never an issue.
Secondary technical school or apprenticeship: a trivial decision?
BayWa has taught me a lot about myself: If someone had told me in 2015 – fresh out of secondary school – that I would be running an entire company a few years later, I wouldn't have believed it. I was the guy who was just brave enough to order another portion of fries.
At the time, it still seemed like a very trivial decision to me: Go to a college or earn money directly. I knew BayWa from our own farm. In addition to farming, we had pigs, fallow deer and chickens. In the end, I decided to train as a wholesale and foreign trade clerk in Wörth an der Donau. The work made me self-confident – today I know what I can do.
At the same time on the agenda: Studying economics
After three years of training, I went on to study economics. After work, evening classes were on the programme. My dad was always my role model. He founded his own company, a forestry business with three harvesters, and works up to sixty hours a week. His work is his passion, and that's exactly the feeling I wanted to have. Today, I can proudly say that I've managed to do just that – not least with a great team at my side.