After university, Dan travelled and went into the world of work for a couple of years before joining Lidl.
Why did you choose Lidl?
Lidl stood out for me because they have the right balance of a really positive work culture and the kind of growth that makes room for future progression. They're doing so well as a company, they're obviously doing things right! What appealed most was the chance to manage people directly and really develop my people skills.
Is it living up to your expectations?
I’m currently working in warehousing. This includes Supply Chain and Logistics.
Supply chain is essentially getting the product from the supplier who's produced it, on the farm or in the factory, to our warehouse. There's a lot of forecasting to prepare and plan ahead to ensure there's the right amount of products in the right places at the right time taking into consideration the weather, seasonal changes like Christmas and one-off demand influencers like the World Cup. The end-all is customer satisfaction.
Logistics take over once the stock arrives at our warehouses. We check the goods in, make sure everything is as it should be, and move it into place ready for Selection, where it's picked and packed ready to move to Goods Out, who get it onto trucks and organise the deliveries to store.
How did you find the application process?
I sent off my CV, then there was the online assessment, which I found fairly rigorous. There was a verbal test, and a more analytical one that involved data. I was then invited to do the telephone interview – and from there it was an invitation to the assessment centre. As well as a one-on-one interview, we did group activities, to see who naturally showed leadership. We role-played different business scenarios, like having to choose a new store manager having looked at five different CVs. You had to pick one and then justify your choice, making an argument to support it. I actually enjoyed it! Then I had a final stage interview with the head of the region.
What did you wish you'd known before you started at Lidl?
I’ve found it surprising how I expected it to be and how it actually is, in terms of the level of support. I have plenty of support – my two regional training consultants who are there throughout the placement. I can confide in them and get advice - it's good to know they're there, whichever section I'm in.
What do you enjoy the most about working for Lidl?
The variety has really impressed me. Often people go into a business and work every day on one small aspect of it, but I've seen the full spectrum in less than a year. I've been face to face with customers in store, seen the full supply chain and now I'm in the warehouse, understanding how we process all stock once we've received it from the suppliers. One day you're presenting to senior management, the next you're keeping lorry drivers in line outside the warehouse or motivating pickers in the freezer section. You have to adapt, stay positive, and listen to everyone around you.
Have there been any surprises during your time at Lidl?
You've got to be prepared to do a lot for yourself. You’ve got to have initiative and make the most of it, it's like anything – the more you put in, the more you get out. But if you do that at Lidl, you'll be surprised by how much you can learn.
I always felt confidence was one of my strong points - the ability to talk to anyone and build a rapport. But with Lidl I've been amazed at how far my natural abilities can take me. I've helped to recruit new teams and open new stores – 6 months into my placement – and been able to adapt and grow to take on such a range of responsibilities.
What’s the team like at Lidl?
Lidl's such an efficient business, you never see anyone who isn't pulling their weight. That creates an environment where in every store it really feels like we're succeeding because of our own efforts, driving our own success. That in turn builds camaraderie, the sense of one team, so it's self-fuelling.
How is the workload?
There is a lot of work to do. My time management has really improved, working out how to fit things in. The pace is pretty full-on and you'll be amazed at how much you can achieve in a day. Working in stores you get to love the sunrise – if your store's opening at 8am, you have to be there at 5am to work the stock and get the fresh produce out. Once you start working out the most efficient ways of doing things and build a system that works, you start to enjoy it, challenging yourself to do it better each time. One thing I have learned though – you don't need a gym membership when you're working in-store!
How do you see your next steps in terms of your career?
I've worked hard and put myself in the best position I can be to secure future employment. My personal ambition is to look after a number of stores - I really found I got a buzz from surprising customers with the level of service we can provide.
What advice would you give future applicants?
The more you put in, the more you get out. Being in a company that's doing so well and feeling part of that success and that I can move and grow with it, is really exciting. Lidl put a huge emphasis on helping people progress, all the way through the business.