Christina Deuß, Director, Capital Deployment Germany at Prologis: It's All About the Customers
It all started back during her school days: At the age of 17, Christina Deuß worked with Prologis for the first time as part of a temporary project involving the digitization of auditing documents. In 2011, when the head of property management was looking for support with utility cost accounting, among other things, Deuß took interested and kept the part-time job until she graduated from high school.
What made more sense than continuing to work for Prologis after graduating? In August 2013, she started her apprenticeship as a real estate manager in Düsseldorf, Germany. “An apprentice was something completely new for Prologis in Germany at the time,” says Deuß. “First of all, we had to clarify with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and our European headquarters in Amsterdam whether it was even possible to provide the training and how it would be structured. Today, training young talent—whether as trainee, apprentice or dual student—is an integral part of Prologis.”
She began a challenging time with busy days. Commuting from her hometown of Neuss, Deuß worked at the Prologis office in Düsseldorf some days and attended trade school at the European Business Center in Bochum (a university of applied sciences that specializes in real estate) on others. After work, she rode the streetcar to the horse stable in southern Düsseldorf. At Prologis, she got to know various departments, which included three weeks in the accounting department in Amsterdam. Deuß liked the training so much that she accepted an offer to stay with Prologis to work in the leasing department.
When her supervisor left the company, Prologis trusted Deuß to manage the job on her own. “I really learned a lot, being thrown in at the deep end,“ she says. “Of course it was a great vote of confidence that I was allowed to take on responsibility for our nationwide leasing activities.” Earlier, she had discussed with an HR manager and her supervisor where she saw herself in five years—and the plan came to fruition when her position as leasing coordinator turned into leasing manager. And in 2019, she became market officer for the west of Germany. Christina Deuß became Director, Capital Deployment Germany in November 2021.
The fact that Deuß has been part of the industry for over 10 years and still with Prologis is appreciated by customers. “After all, to be in a position like this as a 28 year old is rather unusual in the logistics real estate industry,” she says. “Customers trust my experience. And the better I know them, the better I can support them.” In addition to working with existing customers, acquiring new ones is an integral part of her job. Brokers play an important role here. The capital deployment team is happy to present projects that have already been implemented and innovative customer solutions to prospective customers. If a lease agreement for a new construction project comes about, it is important for Deuß to get to know the customers well and understand their needs. “They are often very proud of their logistics activities and happy to talk about their plans for the new facility,” she explains.
Brokers are also on hand to advise the capital deployment team in its search for land and existing facilities. Good contacts with municipalities, economic development agencies and private owners are important. “And sometimes properties turn up that we didn't even have on our radar,” Deuß says. “On a property tour with a colleague, we drove past a building we liked. Right on the spot, I inquired about the owner and established contact. This cold call was not immediately successful, but two years later the owner contacted me again and expressed interest in selling one of his other buildings.”
First Project: The Focus Is on People
Her first dedicated new construction project as a capital deployment manager was a speculative real estate development in Datteln in the Ruhr region. It was the first logistics facility to meet the WELL Building Standard in Germany. The aim is to create a pleasant and healthy working environment for the client's employees. “Our colleagues in the Netherlands showed us the way with a WELL Building project in Tilburg,” she says. “Together with the Dutch project manager, Arthur van Kooij, we checked the feasibility for Datteln and were able to implement the project. I had a particularly high standard for my first major project. In 50 years, I still want people to say: ‘What a great facility.’ But, of course, this standard also applies to all other projects.”
The job also took her to the U.S. As part of an internal project on customer relationship management, she attended a two-day workshop in New Jersey. “I took advantage of the opportunity and added five days of vacation in New York,” she says. “It was a great experience with a special highlight: I went to see a New York Yankees game with a Spanish colleague.” Another highlight of her career was a lecture at Lake Tegern by Peter Bofinger, a former economics adviser for the German government, followed by dinner. Prologis had invited customers to a classic car rally from Munich to Lake Tegern, which took place the day before the transport logistic 2017 trade fair.
So far in her job development, spontaneity, flexibility and reliability have been particularly helpful. “The logistics real estate industry is a people business,” she says. “Networking and approaching people are important—not only when meeting existing and new customers, but also when looking for properties.” The Prologis team likes to take the opportunity to establish contacts at trade fairs, especially at evening events, away from the daily work routine. “There's a different atmosphere then,” says Deuß. “Informal and spontaneous conversations with customers and brokers often result in creative solutions. This relaxed exchange is important in the industry.”
What else does she appreciate about Prologis? The company has developed continuously over the past few years, becoming more modern and placing great value on innovative, sustainable solutions entirely in the interests of its customers. “Our team is open-minded and ready for new things,” Deuß says. “The flat hierarchies simplify work and cooperation. It is explicitly desired to express one's own opinion. I'm grateful that Prologis gives me the opportunity to develop, and I'm excited about the next 10 years.”