Coming from a half-German, half-Irish family, I suppose it was always a possibility that I would end up working in a company like Lidl, but I’m very happy it turned into a reality. I was born and raised in Munich, where I attended the European School of Munich throughout my school life, right up to when I received my European Baccalaureate in
2004. The Baccalaureate is similar in some ways to the Leaving Cert, but is a multilingual programme; I did mine in
English,German and Italian. After school I decided to take a gap year and I came to Ireland later in 2004. I was eager to get some experience of the working world and my first job was in the online reservations and customer services department of United Airlines, which I was good at, but which I didn’t like at all. After that, I decided to temp for a while in the accounts payable department of Pfizer, another job I could do but I just wasn’t for me.
Finding the right job
It was then I decided to move into sales and marketing, and I enjoyed working with both Volvo and Land Rover in that area. Then an opportunity came up with Lidl in May 2007. I joined as an administrator in retail operations but then moved into the HR sphere, an area which I was really interested in. I’ve worked in this area ever since, I was appointed Recruitment and Employer Brand Specialist in 2010 and then just this year I was promoted to Employer Branding and Talent Acquisitions Manager.
Lidl is an incredibly fast-paced, demanding, challenging, vibrant and fun place to work. I simply love working here. It’s a family really and we work with each other and for each other. Straight away I felt comfortable, even with the responsibilities I had. I think my contentment at Lidl is also down to my passion for the brand and the way it takes risks and is not afraid of change. I have had the opportunity to work for other companies but right now I couldn’t see myself having the same passion for any other company.
What we look for in graduates
Just like the company has changed over recent years, so too have my experiences of the people who come to work here. In the case of graduates, the market has definitely changed over the years. There is very little sense of entitlement amongst graduates now, which is a welcome change to some years ago. Graduates now want to work hard and are happy to do so. I think colleges and Careers Services deserve a lot of credit for the way they have conditioned students and graduates for the reality of the working world, because the attitude has definitely changed for the better.
When I welcome a graduate into Lidl, we already know he or she has the raw material that we’re looking for, so then it’s a case of finding their strengths and working with them.
If you’re afraid of responsibility, then Lidl is not the environment for you. We want our graduate recruits to be managers and to be handling major projects very quickly. But, in the vast majority of cases, this is what they want too, so it’s a very positive place to work.
If I was to give any advice to a graduate on their first job, whether it is with Lidl or any other company, it would be absorb everything from when you walk in the door, listen to advice and ask questions. Get involved in every aspect of the company, from work to social events, so even if it doesn’t work out you can say that you experienced as much as possible.
Experience of the working world is also so important to employers, just because you have a 2:1 degree, it doesn’t make you the finished article. Enjoy your work and be passionate about it.
At present, I couldn’t see myself working anywhere other than Lidl, there are so many opportunities and challenges ahead that I very much want to be a part of.
Tara Kleebaur was interviewed for Ireland’s 100 Leading Graduate Employers 2014/15