Richards work in a start-up before he joined us meant he was ideally placed to take up a position in procurement straight away. He’s going from strength to strength.
What were you doing before Lid?
As a fresh graduate, I’d been working at a start-up for about nine months doing procurement. It was great, but I decided I was looking for something a bit more structured.
How did you join Lidl?
I applied for a procurement traineeship programme which seemed perfect as they were looking for someone with around six months' work experience. It all happened very quickly. Phone interview one day; two days later called in for an assessment centre; a few days after that an interview… and then an offer. But I then I got a call from my would-be line manager to say that they had a vacancy for a full-time position in the department, which I decided to take. I had to step up to the plate and I enjoyed that. I’ve been doing it for two and a half years.
What does your job entail?
I'm responsible for the company car fleet primarily. That's 1,500 company cars as well as our light commercial vehicles.
What’s been your biggest challenge in that time?
The most challenging period was the first six months, getting up-to-speed with the role. But my biggest challenge is my current project. I'm managing an absolutely huge change for the company car fleet. We've got an international-level switch in our primary supplier, and so I'm working on a change project for how we deal with that in the UK. It's a high exposure project and an exciting one.
What’s the team like?
I think we're a fantastic team. It comes down to the individuals, their attitudes, their work ethic, and we all get along well. Everyone just knows what their job is, they get on with it and they perform it really well. Over the two and a half years I've been with the team I think I've really seen how people have grown. It’s very supportive.
What qualities do you think somebody would need to do your job?
There are the core procurement skills that you need, so you need the commercial mindset and a head for strategy. There’s also a lot of negotiation with suppliers, so you need to be firm and resilient. That has meant pushing myself out of my comfort zone, as it’s not how I am naturally.
What are the benefits like?
We get a discount at our local gym, which I take full advantage of – that’s a nice little benefit. It's more than the fact that you get the discount, it's the flexibility of the company to allow you to pursue things that you want to do in your free time.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
Very good. I'm actually an illustrator in my free time. I also do a lot of sport. Don't get me wrong, you have to work hard and sometimes long hours, but it's all about how you manage it yourself. If you complete your work to a good standard, then Lidl is a company that lets you make your own decisions.
And how do you see your future then?
Working within fleet is a good industry to be in right now. There’s lots of change, what with the government legislation with regards to taxation on electric vehicles and so on… That's quite an exciting area for me, particularly when it comes to things like automation in vehicles. That's something that I'm looking forward to in the future.