My Aldi graduate experience - Nicola McLoughlin
In the first of a two-part series, we hear from graduates who have successfully completed the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme. We hear about the challenges of the role, what they have learned and what advice they would have for students or graduates considering a similar career path.
“The best part of my job is the variety and the people”
When did you join the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme and what did you study?
I joined the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme in September 2019, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship in University College Cork. My degree was quite varied and I completed modules in food science, nutrition, marketing, retail management and accounting. It brought my love for food and retail together.
Can you describe the application and recruitment process?
The application and recruitment process is demanding and takes a lot of dedication, but considering the prize, it was definitely worth it. I started my application for the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme in September 2018, just as I began my final year in college. The initial steps involved completing an online application form, which comprised of situational analysis and psychometric tests. Once I had passed through those stages, the next step was a video interview which involved answering a set of predetermined questions with a time limit. That completed the online part of the process.
The next step was taking part in a group interview in the Regional Head Office in Mitchelstown. After that, there were two interviews, one with the Regional Managing Director and another with two Regional Directors. The recruitment process is not just about making sure you are a good fit for Aldi, but also about making sure Aldi is the right fit for you. The process gives a great insight into the type of dedication and hard-work that is required as an Area Manager.
Describe what a typical working week looks like for you?
A typical week in Aldi doesn’t really exist as I would say every week I have worked with the company has been different. However, in general, the start of the week will involve meeting with the Area Manager team to discuss plans for the upcoming week. Once that’s done, it is important for me to meet in-person with all of my Store Managers to discuss the previous week’s performance and to discuss plans for the weeks ahead. I also make sure that I have time to complete shop floor walks in each of my stores which allows me to check cleanliness, availability and to get a sense of the customer experience. The remainder of the week can be made up of anything from interviewing and hiring staff, working on projects, reporting key business data to the management team, and generally ensuring I am a visible leader by meeting with staff and completing audits in store.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the job?
I get a lot of satisfaction from the recruitment process. It involves meeting lots of different people and exploring their job and career ambitions. It is rewarding to guide people through the recruitment process, hire them and support them as they develop into valued members of the store team. As well as hiring people directly into a new job, an aspect of this which I enjoy greatly is supporting my Aldi colleagues with their career progression within the company. It’s great to see when a Store Assistant is able to take advantage of an opportunity to progress their career into a management role, such as a Deputy Store Manager.
Has your perception of the retail industry changed since you joined Aldi?
The retail industry is something that I studied in great detail in college, but it wasn’t until I joined Aldi that I could bring everything I had learned in college together with real-life experience. Aldi’s position in the Irish retail industry is constantly growing and I am very proud to be part of this growth and development. Working with Aldi has given me an opportunity to really understand the logistics and operations involved in being one of the most successful food retailers in the industry.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the variety of the role and the fact that I am constantly learning new things and developing my skills. No day or week is the same. I also love the fact that my job is so people oriented. I work closely with a large team of highly skilled people across each of my stores, as well as the Area Manager team and colleagues in the Regional Head Office.