We recently had the pleasure to interview former graduate and current International Brand Manager, Ditlev, from Scandinavian Tobacco Group. Ditlev graduated from Copenhagen Business School in 2017, where he completed his master’s degree in Marketing and Economics. Before his graduation, he had been working as a student assistant at the Danish tobacco company. He started in the program as an International Marketing graduate and approximately one and a half years later, after completing the graduate programme, he got offered a permanent position in the company as an International Associate Brand Manager.
When talking to Ditlev about his time in the graduate programme, he clearly recalls a joyful time. Although he came across many challenges in his new position as a graduate in STG, the assignments that he was given only increased his interest in the tobacco industry and accelerated his passion for the company. It was a time where he had the opportunity to get hands-on experience from real-life situations using the theoretical knowledge acquired from his university time, which, he continues, was very beneficial for his development. Although it was challenging, the amount of knowledge that he was able to acquire through the graduate program has today helped him complete the more advanced tasks in his current position as International Brand Manager.
But all these learnings do not come for cheap. There are many challenges when you begin as a new graduate, he emphasises. Ditlev said that the most challenging one is the fact that you are getting a lot of responsibility from day one. For instance, you need to meet sharp deadlines for different tasks and assignments. Otherwise the company might not be able to launch that new product on the market or start production on time, which affects dozens of colleagues, strategies and brands. Another part which can be difficult, is to get an understanding of what a young professional life is like and how to get most out of the position as a graduate. Here, a key part is to quickly get familiar with the new reality and be able to adapt.
There is a steep learning curve which you need to be ready for
When Ditlev completed his program, he was offered a permanent position in the company, which for many STG graduates is the case. He highlights that the graduate position and his current position are quite different from each other. The graduate program was about learning and getting a more holistic view of the company. “You are exposed to different departments during the program. If you get offered a permanent position in the company, your learnings during the program is put to the test. Hence, you will showcase how you are able to use all of the abilities you acquired, with a focus on using the methods that you have learned and being able to implement them.”
“The network, the professional learning and the opportunity to discover many different departments from the inside were some of the most valuable elements I picked up”, Ditlev begins.
Being in the company as a graduate gave him an advantage when he settled into a more senior role as a Brand Manager. Since he was not new to the company and had been working across the organization, he had established a network of connections and hence it was easier for him to discuss and elevate different matters and suggestions. Another benefit of the programme that Ditlev realises as the talk continues, is the amount of knowledge that he acquired while he was a graduate. Not only the theories but also the company’s working culture that he is now very familiar with. He highlights how it streamlines cooperation with colleagues to work with a similar culture.
The experience and network that you acquire during the programme will empower you to improve your performance in any future position here
Over the years there have been some changes to optimize the graduate program, which have only increased before-mentioned benefits. For example, Ditlev used to be a graduate in the local market, however STG now focuses on the international marketing program, which is based in the headquarters but includes a rotation abroad. Hence, the current program is more concentrated on the global market. “The new structure of the program is a more holistic approach to our business”, Ditlev concludes.
Although the company is looking for university graduates with a relevant master’s degree, the field of people who can work at Scandinavian Tobacco Group is quite open. There is no such specification if the person should be more introvert or extrovert. As Ditlev puts it: “They do not put people in a box, however, if you are applying for a graduate program you should have a desire to work in this specific company and industry. The key in the application is about being honest and describing what you can offer and why you can be a great fit here. From there you need to trust the process. In addition, you should be focused on developing yourself and get to know different departments within the company, as it is the main purpose of the programme. You simply need to exploit the time you spend around STG as a graduate to maximize your learning.”
Ditlev concludes with an important piece of advice for university graduates that make the cut to STG’s programme: “Through the graduate program you will make many mistakes and you should not be too afraid of that – it is a way to obtain new skills and as well learn about Scandinavian Tobacco Group and what kind of company we are”.
We want to thank Ditlev once again for sharing with us a lot of valuable insights and wish him continued success in the future.