Tom started his career at Lidl in Sales as an Area Manager. He then moved into the Property team acting as an Acquisitions Manager before taking up his current position of Facilities Manager. We’ve recently supported him in doing an MSc in Building Surveying which is not only great for his personal development, but he’ll bring those skills back in house. It’s a win-win.
What were you doing before you were at Lidl.
I studied Physical Geography at degree level, before going on to do an MSc in Management and eCommerce. I started out in my working life as an eCommerce Consultant for a Local Authority assisting SME’s developing eCommerce practices, before joining Lidl as a trainee Area Manager - and I’ve been here ever since.
What’s your career path been?
I was an Area Manager for 4 years and then moved across to the Property Department for 4 years as an Acquisitions Manager. I then went back into Sales as an Area Manager for 18 months, before taking on the role of Facilities Manager, which I’ve been doing now for four years.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
There probably isn't a typical day. There's a lot of crossover between different departments and you're involved in a lot of roll-outs nationally across the business. One minute you could be dealing with a health-and-safety concern and the next you could have a situation where there’s been a storm and part of a roof has blown off a building. There's always a curveball coming at you which you haven't dealt with in the past so that keeps the job very interesting.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
It would probably be taking on an MSc in Building Surveying which I'm just finishing whilst trying to balance that with work and family life. In terms of work it’s hard to pick out any one example, but to give you an idea, there was a time when we had a dilapidated building next to one of our stores. It wasn't owned by Lidl but it caught fire with a big asbestos roof and the remnants blew onto our building and into our car park. From a health and safety point of view, it raised a question of how do we deal with this? Public safety is key, but you’re also trying to continue business operations as best you can. Nobody trains you in how to deal with that kind of situation, so you need to draw on your skillset to deal with the problem.
What’s the team like?
I have a mobile maintenance team who are out in the stores every day carrying out repairs and maintenance and a secretary who provides support on the administration side. The volume of work that comes through the department is significant so you and your team need to be people who enjoy taking on that challenge on a daily basis.
What qualities do you need to do well in facilities?
You’re juggling a lot of balls so you need to be highly organised. You need to take a very pragmatic and analytical approach to what you're doing in terms of strategy and an eye for detail is also key. You need to be comfortable dealing with people at all management levels and resilience is also important since the work flow keeps on coming, so being a very driven character helps.
What do you enjoy about working at Lidl?
What gets me out of bed? For me, the business aligns very much with my personality since I am naturally competitive and driven. I work with some great people, and this extends not just to the immediate Lidl family, but also to what I would call our extended Lidl family in the shape of our supporting contractors and suppliers. To be able to work alongside those many people who are committed to doing a great job for the company is very rewarding.
What’s your work-life balance like?
In the evening, we're very much encouraged to switch off our phones and not to look at our emails. The company drives that. We work very hard, so once you've left work, you’re encouraged to put your phone down, enjoy your family life and then come to work the next day energised and ready to go.
Do you think you’ll stay in Property?
We’re a very forward-thinking company, so there are plenty of opportunities for those people who are willing to embrace them. I'm currently in the process of completing my MSc in Building Surveying studies, which is something that is funded by Lidl, and supports my growth and development within Facilities Management. I’m open to opportunities, but I'm very happy doing what I do since the role is so varied which keeps it interesting.
Can you sum up Lidl in four words?
We're an efficiency-driven company, so why use four words when you can do it in three? Better. Never. Stops.