At university, Tammy volunteered with an organisation called Public Futures, helping children with learning disabilities get back into the community and improve their lifestyle. Outside of work, Tammy loves cooking and travel – she recently travelled to the Great Wall of China and trekked the Inca trail up to Macchu Picchu. She loves to get involved in new things and put herself out of her comfort zone.
What attracted you to Lidl?
I'd heard great things about the graduate programme. When I looked into it, I liked the fact that it's rotational – meaning I could experience so much more, that it involved learning about core operations which I'd studied during my degree, the fact that it is an international company and one of the fastest growing retailers as well. I knew it was somewhere I could really pursue a career rather than just getting a job.
How did you find the application process?
I found the online tests quite time-pressured, but I remembered that they had said you're unlikely to finish the task – so the important thing was to remain calm, to not rush, because I knew that it was going to be tight timewise. So, I focussed on giving good answers that were correct, on quality rather than quantity. In terms of tips, I'd say make sure you've got a pen and paper ready, that you're in a nice quiet place with no distractions around you.
I found the telephone interview informal - more a relaxed conversation. I did prepare for it with some bullet points but the important thing is to have the key points ready, and let it flow naturally.
The assessment centre was a very long day for me, with a 3am start to get my flight, and I was really nervous. But once I walked in, there was a friendly atmosphere with all the other graduates. There's a fine balance in group assessments between making yourself heard and then letting other people talk and share their ideas too.
I remember the day I got the offer, screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. It was an amazing day.
What was your first week like at Lidl?
The first day was a very informal day - I got to meet up with my Regional Training Consultant and the 2nd year grads. We were introduced to our teams, learnt about what to expect and then we were shown around the first store that we'd be working in. Luckily mine was just a 2-minute walk from my flat, which made the 5am starts a bit easier! I met the team and then my training began the next day.
Is there anything you wish you'd known before you started at Lidl?
Lidl’s culture and its way of operating is unique – I don't think it's something that you can really prepare yourself for. I've worked in retail before, but Lidl's a different thing altogether. You have to prepare yourself for something different and be ready for a few surprises! It's gone so fast – the days really fly by. It's hard to believe I've been living in Southampton a year already. The business is always changing, the most important thing is to go in with an open mind, be open to new ideas, different career paths. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome at Lidl?
There is a lot expected of you. You have to walk in with an open mind and a positive attitude and make sure you get your team on board. That's something that I had to really put effort into, just to bring my team around and show them that I'm ready to put in every bit as much effort as them and you're deserving of that place as a graduate and a trainee manager. It's about getting out of your comfort zone, using the strength of your personality so that if you get a negative comment, brushing that off and turning it around.
Have there been any surprises since starting at Lidl?
There have been lots of times when I've had to stay later with a shift or come in early or jump in to help with a task I hadn't planned to do, but with Lidl it's very much all hands-on deck, and everyone's working as a team to get the job done. If the floor needs sweeping, you grab a brush. If the tills are busy, you'll jump on and help. Everyone pulls together to make sure the job gets done.
What does your role involve?
I'm still in my first year. I started off with 6 months in store, working from Customer Assistant to Deputy Store Manager. I walked in not even knowing the basic principles of freshness and walked out of the store six months later with the ability to run shifts, to oversee the team and to manage the store's performance. There are several roles to understand in store from the Freshness Coordinator, looking at the quality of fruit, veg and other products to Deputy Store Manager where you learn how to run shifts, keep track of KPIs, analyse sales and planning for improvement. Then I moved into Logistics, where I spent three months rotating between goods in department, selection and goods out. I just finished there and am now in my second week in Supply Chain – I'll be here for three months.
What have you enjoyed the most about working at Lidl?
I'm very much a people person, so I want to have that regular interaction with people, however I'm already really enjoying supply chain, even after only a couple of weeks. I'm really interested in the buying side of the business too and getting involved with that at Head Office. When I was working in store, everyday was a good day - it was great to feel like I could make all that work, and have customers compliment me about the team and about how the store looked – I was surprised at how genuinely rewarding that felt. I'm not going to lie - the money and the car are very nice too!
What is the team like at Lidl?
Everyone in Lidl is very committed, driven and determined to get the job done. To be as good as we are takes real commitment from everyone and having a team around you that are ready to work hard really helps to drive you on. Building a rapport with people at all levels right across the business helps with everything else.
How is the training at Lidl?
I genuinely feel like my brain is about to explode! I don't even know how many notes and lists I've written. It is very much a case of you learn on the job. I've learnt to be proactive and always keep looking ahead, communicating with people, and joining the dots to see how the way we work in supply chain affects logistics, which affects the stores and so on - that's what great about the graduate programme is the joined up understanding of the whole business, not just your job.
How do you see your next steps in terms of your career?
It's becoming more real and exciting now that I'm coming to the end of my first year and in two months I'm going to choose a route to go down and really become a specialist in that area. I definitely want to stay at Lidl and it's exciting to look at what future they might have for me.
What have you found out about yourself thanks to your time at Lidl?
I've learned how strong I am – I've moved away from family and friends, and thrown myself in to the job and a new city, and made a lot of friends inside and outside of work. I've developed as a person, I'm more confident, and I've learned so much – I'm really proud to work for Lidl.
What tips or advice would you give to new graduates considering a career with Lidl?
Do your research. Have an open mind, you'll be amazed at how varied life at Lidl is, how much you can learn, how adaptable you can be and how far you can go.