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Case Study: Kirsty Gillespie

Personal details
Degree:Management Profile picture
School(s): School of Management
Year of Graduation:Jun-2016
LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/kirsty-gillespie-70a77ba4
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Lidl UK
Job title: Graduate Management Trainee
Occupational Sector: Retail
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I applied online for the Graduate Management Development Programme, completed the online assessments then underwent a phone interview and face to face interview during my 4th year at university.
What does your job involve ?
Our programme is structured to allow the student to rotate across the business and decide at a later date where they feel is the best fit for them in the business. The first six months is on the sales side of the business, learning about topics such as, merchandising, KPI's & targets, facility management, inventory and in-store management. The second six months is focusing on the logistics side of the business, in areas such as goods in, the selection process and goods out of the distribution centre. After this first foundation building year you select an area to specialise in for the next six months: either sales, logistics or a head office role (property, supply chain, buying department and so on). The final six months are about putting to practice the skills you have selected to specialise in and using this time to decide where you wish to be inserted into the business.
What are the best bits of your job ?
The weekly training sessions are a particular highlight as we are able to be taught in a classroom environment the correct procedures and practices of the business without the frequent distractions that would occur in-store. It provides us the opportunity to ask questions and take as long as we need to learn and practice without any impact on the business, so pressure free. The most important highlight of the training for me is the chance to meet and network with a different area manager (each one teaches their speciality) every week and learn about their pathway within Lidl and hear of their personal experiences.
Why were you successful?
Having a variety of extra curricular activities to draw on provided me with a wealth of experiences to discuss in the interview process. Providing examples of experiences that demonstrated the skill set required was an important section in the interview.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
My degree involved a great deal of group projects, which naturally made me more equipped at handling the variety of personalities I have met within the company. Each week we write a progress report and I believe the frequent reflective pieces we produced in my course has made this process easier for me. My most applicable module was Leadership Development which allowed me to gauge how I want to conduct myself as a manager and mentor, which will be invaluable when I adopt a managerial role.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
My advice would be not to apply for this graduate scheme if your goal is to sit at a desk all day or to do minimum effort and get paid for it. The programme is fast paced, challenging (both physically and mentally) and requires lots of driving across the country. The programme is suited to students who want to work hard and have a great deal of variety in their work life. I have learned through meeting colleagues, that Lidl allow and encourage their staff to move around different areas of the business, learning and growing to become all round better employees. My more informal piece of advice would be to start learning German as early on in the process as you can.