Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I studied my BSc and MSc at Aarhus University, finishing my master’s in Logistics and Supply Chain Management in 2018. I have been so lucky to work in Lidl previous to my graduate program. When I heard about the programme I thought of it as a great opportunity to start my career and obtain an abundance of learning. It was all along my plan to get into a graduate program, because I felt it was the right starting point for my career.
I applied for the track International Supply Chain and became a graduate in Lidl after working a year and a bit as project manager within supply chain management. I went through the same process as any from outside of the company and that is how secured a spot in the programme. Hence, I started my graduate programme in august 2020, so I am now approximately 5 months in, currently working as a store manager of a Lidl store in Randers.
What attracted you to the company and their graduate programme?
Since I was already working in Lidl, I know the company from the inside, and that there is an attractive company culture in Lidl. It is somewhere I can see myself in the future. Furthermore, I appreciate the opportunity to go to Germany for a rotation, as I find the international experience valuable for my personal development and career. I like that Lidl prioritizes the importance of learning the language and gives all graduate intense German lessons. It is just super cool to learn a new language. In extension to that, I find it interesting to go to the headquarters, since you get in touch with the central decision-making process.
What does a typical day look like?
There are not really any ‘typical days’ in this graduate program, especially since you get out in the stores and have these sub-rotations in the Lidl stores, where you go through different stages of store responsibility. You start with three weeks working on floor and as closing responsible, then you spend three weeks as deputy manager and after that you become a store manager. You are not parked on the sideline at all, but instead they focus on constantly adding to my development in the new roles I undertake.
In the first phase of the rotation, working on the floor and as the closing responsible, it was tough work that gave many insights on the day-to-day operations of a store. As you advance you get more responsibility and you need to manage all facets. It gives you a lot of respect for the people that manage these functions.
More generally, a typical day is about taking responsibility for upwards of 15-20 people and planning their day and the process behind it. On top of that, I will mention plenty of learning by doing experiences. That’s two general traits for my days.
What has been the most exciting project you have worked on so far?
I have only been employed as a graduate for some months now, so the focus has mainly been on the operations and not as much on specific projects. However, when I went to the Danish headquarter for a month, as you do in the beginning, I was project leader in supply chain, where we were working to optimize delivery and did forecasting on store demands.
What has been the biggest challenge as a graduate?
Corona has mixed things up a bit and changed some things around, but luckily, I do not feel Covid-19 had a greater impact on my journey in the graduate programme. Instead, the biggest challenge has been to get everyday life running in the store as store manager. In addition to being incredibly busy with your own tasks, you have a handful of employees that you also have to manage to a greater or lesser degree. It requires a great overview.
What has been a thing that has surprised you about the programme?
I was surprised how welcoming the managers received me and how they give me the best possible odds to succeed. They want to learn you everything they know and share their experience. You are not parked on the sideline at all, but instead they focus on constantly adding to my development in the new roles I undertake.
Steffen will go to Germany in august 2021, where he will partake in a 3-months German course with other Lidl graduates and will afterwards continue the stay with another three months working in the German headquarter.
Thanks for participating in the interview Steffen and best of luck in the remaining time of the programme!