Upwards, sideways, the opportunities are everywhere.
For Sonia, fast-paced, challenging and demanding just about sums up Buying at Lidl – but it’s the ability to work across teams that makes it so unique.
What were you doing before Lidl?
After I graduated, I moved to London and I started a job in a call centre. I was there for a year when I got the job at Lidl. The role helped me realise that I wasn’t interested in telecommunications and was keen to move to a company where I could have a connection with the products or with what the company actually does.
What was it about Lidl that attracted you?
I studied international trade at university and, as a multinational company, I knew Lidl was expanding all across Europe and that was quite appealing to me!
When did you join Lidl?
I joined Lidl in October 2012 as an administrator in the data maintenance team. After several years I was promoted to a senior administrator and later on to a line manager of the team.
Is that something that happens a lot at Lidl?
Yes, the company looks at where individual’s skills lie and how they can progress and if there is no immediate career progression in the current department, we can look sideways and gain experience from other teams. The buying department is quite complex. Currently there are around 50 people in the Buying Administration team alone, and it consists of six smaller teams so people can move sideways within buying, but they can also move to a different department. I’ve seen people move from the buying department into recruitment or PR or advertising, for example, which shows just how flexible it is here.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges was managing a team and then moving on to a new project after nearly four years to something else – because I was quite attached to my team.
What have you been particularly proud of?
I really enjoy managing a team and then seeing individual people progress and move in to different roles and develop their skills in the area where they excel. A great example was a member of my team who went to Ireland to help them roll-out a project there. She did extremely well and had great feedback from the manager there. I was really proud of the fact that I’d trained her up and that she did such a great job there.
What do you think makes a particularly good Line Manager?
Listening, without a doubt. A person that listens to the team is aware of everything that’s happening. Communication is really crucial, so even though life here at Lidl is extremely busy one, always find time to deal with the team, have regular feedback and really listen to them.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I would like to progress in buying as I think there’s still a lot to learn – it’s a vibrant department, forever changing and growing, so there’s room to progress here. Looking further ahead into the future, then being the head of department is definitely a future ambition for me!
And do you feel that Lidl supports that type of development and career progression?
Yes! The opportunities are definitely here. If someone is thinking of a change then we’re quite open so it’s always possible to speak to your manager and ask about your future options.
Has Lidl lived up to your expectations as an employer?
Absolutely – it’s a very multi-cultural environment and we have people here from all over the world working together, which I love. We’re also a very fun team and we get on really well, which means I really enjoy my work, the culture is great.
How would you describe Lidl in four words?
Fast-paced, challenging, multi-national and demanding.