Sean Clancy, Store Operations Director, Aldi

Seán Clancy, Store Operations Director with Aldi, talks about how his career started and developed and the importance of accepting and dealing with responsibility.

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I studied business studies in the
University of Limerick, majoring in HR
and minoring in entrepreneurship. I
initially chose business as my degree
programme as it was quite general and I
liked the idea of not being tied to a specific
area as upon completion of my leaving Cert,
I was unsure as to what exactly I would like
to do career wise. I knew that I wanted to do
something business related and the
business degree in the University of
Limerick, coupled with the eight-month work
placement as part of the degree programme
in year 3, would give me an excellent
starting point for my future career.

What was your first leadership position in
your career and what did it teach you
about yourself?

As mentioned earlier, as part of my degree
programme I would complete an eightmonth
work placement. I completed this
with Aldi as an Assistant Store Manager. This
was my first taste of leadership in a
professional context. It was evident from
the outset that there were a number of
areas that I needed to develop if I wanted to
be become an effective leader within the
store. I feel that upon completion of the
placement, I had developed key leadership
skills such as effective communication and
organisational skills. It was my first taste of
leading a team of people and I really
enjoyed this exposure! As I enjoyed the
experience so much, I decided to pursue a
leadership position upon graduation from
college.

How and why did you start working with
Aldi and how has your career developed
since?

I began working for Aldi as an Industrial
Placement student. The placement was
spent working as an Assistant Store
Manager in a busy Aldi store, aiding the
Store Manager in the day-to-day running.
Upon completion of the placement, I
returned to college to complete my final
year of the degree programme. I achieved
my desired degree result and rejoined Aldi
to begin my training to become an Area
Manager. My training period was spilt
between spending time within stores and
with different Area Manager colleagues. I
spent four years as an operational Area
Manager, holding responsibility for stores in
the Midlands and in Dublin during my time
as an Area Manager. In April of 2015, I was
promoted to the role of Store Operations
Director in our Mitchelstown region. I
currently hold responsibility for stores in
the south and south-east of Ireland.

What was the first major challenge during
your career with Aldi, how did you
overcome it and what did you learn from
it?

I feel that one of the biggest challenges that
any Area Manager would face is that of
taking responsibility for your first area of
stores; it certainly was mine! In saying that,
it was definitely a challenge that I was ready
for. I say this as at Aldi we place a lot of
focus and energy on training all of our
people to a very high standard, hence
empowering all new people that start with
our business to hit the ground running. This
was my experience when first starting off
with Aldi, both for my in-store and out-ofstore
training. Therefore when it came to
taking responsibility for my first area I felt
ready despite the challenge that lay ahead!

What advice would you have for a graduate
interested in a career with Aldi, and what
skills can they develop to help them
succeed?

I believe that it essential for any potential
new starter to research the role in detail
prior to applying for it. This is particularly
true for the Area Manager position. The
position of an Area Manager is one that
comes with high levels of responsibility and
therefore you need a strong knowledge of
what the role entails.

How important is work/life balance and
how do you deal with stressful situations
in your job?

Work/life balance is vital, both from a
personal and professional point of view. It is
imperative that in a senior management
position you recognise this for both your
people and for yourself. As I said earlier, the
Area Manager role carries a lot of
responsibility and expectation with it.
However, it is also a role that you can
achieve an excellent work/life balance with.
In the event of a challenging situation
arising, I think it's important to take a step
back from the situation, gather the facts and
then make an informed decision. Although, I
feel that prevention is usually the best way
of dealing with challenging situations!

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