Stephen Dawes joined Lidl as a graduate seven years ago – he’s now Media Manager, making sure our TV and digital campaigns are the very best they can be. He describes every day as challenging, fulfilling and rewarding and says he can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Can you tell us what your job title is and what your role involves?
I’m Media Manager at Lidl. My job is fairly simple and it’s to make sure that our new and existing customers see our advertising. Essentially I lead our media agency on the day-to-day media planning and implementation to ensure that our TV, press, radio, outdoor and digital campaigns are the best that they can be. It’s all based on customer insights, ensuring that Lidl is the best value in the market. I also oversee the project leads on our local marketing and strategy, so when a new store opens, we have a solid framework in place to make them as successful as possible. To top it off, I manage the marketing budget, which enables me to work closely with individuals in our department and our controlling department to ensure that we hit all of our spend targets.
When did you join Lidl and in what capacity?
I joined back in January 2010. I was a fresh-faced graduate on the graduate scheme! I responded to an advert for a buying managerial role, but I made it very clear in my first interview that I wanted to be in the advertising team based on my German and Marketing degree. Within a year I was promoted to advertising procurement manager and looked after the point of sale buying and sourcing for all of our stores, permanent store signage and all of our outdoor advertising. I’ve constantly been exposed to so much that I was living and breathing the advertising and media side of the team wherever I’ve been in Lidl.
What attracted you to Lidl?
Various things attracted me to Lidl. At the time I joined we were just the other side of an economic down turn, which was hard to ignore. As a result, people’s shopping habits were changing and having spent quite a bit of time in Germany, I myself was used to shopping in Lidl pretty much every week. I knew that there was quite a lot of potential for living in the UK and working at Lidl and I really wanted to be a part of that journey. So when I saw the job advertised it ticked all of the boxes and when I applied it was clear that the opportunities for development were there. There was so much scope to progress, which was a real benefit for me. And it’s really not disappointed since I've been here.
What has been your biggest challenge during the last seven years?
The biggest challenge is just keeping pace with what's going on in the retail space, particularly within my role at the moment. Our competitors are doing something different all the time, the market is ever-changing and technology is coming into the media space that we need to make sure we’re on top of. We have to make sure we’re exploiting as many of those opportunities as possible! So, the real challenge is keeping up with that pace and the environment that Lidl finds itself in. We’re a lean team so we have to hit the ground running and get involved in many different projects. You can’t sit still in this job – you’ve got to keep rolling with the punches!
So, what sort of attributes do you need in your role at Lidl?
You need to have a real resilience about you to be able to deal with these ever changing challenges. Personally, I’ve adapted myself so that I don’t get so phased by set-backs – everyone makes mistakes so you just have to learn from it, as that's ultimately what develops you as a character.
What have you been particularly proud of during your time at Lidl?
I've been working on a project involving new store openings, working with teams across the entire business for the past three months. Working with different colleagues along the journey has made me see the bigger picture and how this has been a great mechanic for us in our new stores. I went to the first store opening where we had the loyalty card in place and to see it in customers’ hands and people using it was a really fantastic feeling! That's one of the best things about working here you have the ability to see your projects come alive. You see the fruits of your labour, helping to drive business performance, which is ultimately one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Short term I've got some development goals that I want to push for – I’d like to become a senior consultant within our team, which would really push me to my limit. Long term, I’d like to get some wider retail experience while looking at other areas in the business to help me become a more rounded retail individual, so spending time in other departments or teams to get a wider understanding of the business and not just focus on marketing.
Do Lidl encourage you to move around the business?
There are several different development programmes in place where you’re encouraged to move around. It’s really beneficial to widen your skills and appreciate the impact of your decisions on the wider business. But ultimately if you want to move into a different team or region in a completely different role then those opportunities are there, which is great.
Would you consider moving to another retailer?
It’s far too exciting to leave Lidl at the moment, we’re growing so quickly and we're changing massively, we’ve our competitors in our sights! Every day is different and challenging, fulfilling and rewarding, and I work with great people so there’s way too much going on here to want to leave it.
How would you describe Lidl in four words?