Laura at Aldi's distribution centre

Learning to lead a successful team

I’m Laura, and I’m spending my Third Year on a general management placement at Aldi. It’s a twelve-month placement, split into two main areas; store time and head office. Working in store gives you the opportunity to learn how to lead and manage a successful team. In head office you develop your understanding of key business functions such as logistics, financial administration, property and trading. Throughout the year you also spend weeks with your Area Manager mentor to understand their role in preparation for the Area Manager graduate scheme.

Aldi is the 5th largest supermarket in the UK, with a grocery market share of 7.9%. There are 10 Aldi regions in the UK, each with their own Head Office and Regional Distribution Centre. Aldi pride themselves on three core values – Simplicity, Consistency and Responsibility – which determine everything they do. Their organisational structure is designed to ensure every employee knows their area of responsibility and to provide clear channels of communication with opportunities to share knowledge and best practice.

Aldi are also working in partnership with Teenage Cancer Trust to raise £5 million over five years.

Part of the team

I loved the variety of work involved throughout the placement year. I started by working 7 months in two Aldi stores. This was fantastic as I was able to become part of the store team and learn about the store operations. Then I moved to the regional head office to work on a variety of projects with four other people on the placement scheme. These projects included competitor analysis, the integration process of a new region, and store audits such as cleanliness and Challenge 25 policy. During this time, we also worked on warehouse operations and logistics. It has been great to experience every aspect of Aldi’s business model.

The best part of the placement was the people I worked with. Although working in store could be stressful at times, it was also fun; the team environment was great to experience. I worked alongside some incredible individuals who have inspired me to work hard in order to achieve amazing goals. I have also made great friendships with other students on the scheme. We completed a 10K Water Wipeout challenge together to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust which was very amusing!

Working in store

What I’ve learned

Working at Aldi involves a fast pace of work and requires multi-skilled staff. The placement throws you straight into the deep end entailing 50 hour working weeks and shift work. You are given large amounts of responsibility from the beginning and must be prepared to face challenges.

I have learnt invaluable knowledge about one of the fastest growing supermarkets in the UK, alongside having the opportunity to be the safe holder of a store, manage store shifts, complete store orders, interview potential employees, create store rotas, open/close the store and conduct store audits. Moreover, I was able to highlight potential problems with current operations and offer solutions that could potentially be rolled out across the region or even nationally. You really do have an impact!

I have developed a number of skills and a better understanding of my personal strengths and areas for development. My professionalism has improved due to working in a corporate head office environment and I have better commercial awareness. Having regular contact with Area Managers and Directors, alongside delivering presentations to senior members of the company has increased my confidence. I am now much more resilient and manage my time more effectively. I feel more efficient in everything I do. When I go back to University in October I am confident I will be more productive in the hours I study.

A great opportunity

I would highly recommend completing an industrial placement year. If you are interested in grocery retail then the Aldi scheme is a fantastic one to apply for. An industrial placement allows you to understand which career path you want to take in the future and gives you an insight into full time employment. It is also a great opportunity to earn some money!

Overall, I have had a fantastic year on placement with Aldi. I would strongly recommend this placement to anyone who is considering a career within retail and is up for a challenge. Testing yourself allows you to develop your skill set and confidence, which is a fantastic way to prepare for applying to companies after University. I would like to thank the two Store Managers who trained me in store and also my Area Manager mentor and Store Operations Director for their guidance and support throughout the year.

Choosing a path

The placement has confirmed my desire to become an Area Manager and work in the grocery retail industry. It has also reinforced my passion for Aldi as a company. I hope that I will be able to return on the graduate scheme after my final year of University. Even if I don’t, the experience I’ve gained will put me in a good position to apply for other graduate jobs in the future.

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I'm Laura, a BA Business and Management student at the York Management School. For my year in industry I'm taking part in Aldi's industrial placement scheme.