Career profile: how I started my logistics graduate career at Lidl
Studying development economics and international development at university first taught me how dynamic and strategic a working environment supply chain could be – how it was an area of business with the potential for a lot of innovation where you needed to keep the big picture in mind. Knowing that I wanted to work in this area, I moved to Manchester to study for a masters degree in operations, project and supply chain management.
After I had completed the masters, I began to work in financial research, but in my spare time I was still reading articles and news stories about topics such as sustainability issues and technological developments in supply chain. I was attracted to getting a job more related to my interests and found Lidl’s graduate management development programme online. Having studied in Germany during my bachelors degree, I was very familiar with Lidl and knew they were expanding into more countries in Europe. I thought that this could offer me opportunities for development and the chance to see a complex supply chain in action.
The recruitment process for the supply chain graduate job at Lidl
The application process involved a CV, covering letter and two stages of interviews. During the interviews, I knew I had relevant experience, so I just tried to do my best and sell that to them, ensuring that my passion and knowledge of supply chain were visible in as many of my answers as possible. I was a bit nervous but the interviewers really managed to put me at ease. It was such a relaxed environment that I was able to be spontaneous in my answers, which definitely helped me to show my passion. I knew that, even if I did not get this role, I was prepared to try again until I succeeded. Needless to say, I was delighted that I didn’t have to.
The graduate management development programme is designed to give you a general exposure to many of the retailer’s departments through a number of rotations. My first rotation was spent getting accustomed to Lidl’s stores and it was agreed that my next rotation would be in supply chain, as I was keen to learn more about it. Being able to help establish a bridge between suppliers, both domestic and international, and customers was very exciting. However, eventually it was time for me to move onto another rotation. I expressed my wishes to stay a bit longer and the business listened; I was assigned to a supply chain project at head office. I really appreciate how flexible Lidl has been in allowing me to diverge from the graduate programme and be absorbed into the supply chain team.
Gaining international experience
So, from May 2016 to March 2017, I was based in the head office in Wimbledon, working on producing training and development materials for supply chain teams nationwide. The opportunity arose to move to Germany to learn about a new automated ordering system for supply chain planning, forecasting and distribution, which I was very happy to accept. Currently, my day-to-day job involves learning the ins and outs of this new system, but I’ve also visited other countries to assist in the system’s implementation. I recently visited the head office and regional distribution offices of Lidl’s Austrian business to collect feedback to assist in this system’s rollout in the UK. Once I return to the UK, I’ll be training and offering technical support to teams on using this new system. I feel an incredible sense of achievement when I think that within two years I’ve moved from Manchester to London to Germany and have rotated round several different positions. Thanks to the support and flexibility of my colleagues and managers, I am now working on a project that will affect the whole of the supply chain at Lidl.
Adapting to working life
Working in project management within a fast-paced industry and travelling internationally means being able to be flexible. Although this moving around can be a challenge, I’ve found it to be absolutely fascinating as it has developed my adaptability; I see it more as a continuing journey and ongoing progression. I’ve been able to learn how to establish fruitful business relationships with people regardless of their position in the company or which country they work in, and I’ve come to truly appreciate the diversity of thought and of people within this global organisation.
Advice for finding the right job for you
For me it is vital that throughout the job search process that you remain true to yourself. You should search for roles that match your interests and you feel can help you achieve your ambitions or will support your aspirations. Considering your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you will enjoy doing every day is crucial to finding the right job for you. I feel like I’ve found my perfect role in supply chain by following my passion, interests and aspirations – hopefully you can too.