Mel was looking to accelerate her learning in a large organisation. She was prepared for the challenges that might bring, but not the warmth and support she’s received. Six months on, she’s passed her probation with flying colours and received a promotion.
What’s your background?
I moved here six months ago from a very small, family run children's wear business. And I worked in a medium-sized lingerie business before that.
What does your role entail?
Procurement Organisation covers the strategy and cost perspective of procurement. A lot of my main day-to-day priorities involve cost planning and budget control, and then I also have a little bit of category management as well.
What's a typical day for you, then?
It depends on the time of year and month, but at the moment we're in our cost planning stage. We're going through all the categories and trying to build up our annual budget for the next financial year ahead… So working through our cost expenditure, reconciling invoices, building accruals of suppliers, and feeding back on deviations that we see month on month. My big priority categories are uniform and stationery. I also have ad-hoc queries coming from regions, other head office teams and the suppliers themselves. As well as fielding the category management for that as well.
What have the challenges been?
One of the big things for me was moving into this huge corporation, so trying to wrap my head around all the ‘Lidl-isms’. I think when you join anywhere it's overwhelming, but it’s what I signed up for. It's what I wanted, and it's why I was looking to move into the job. I wanted to move out of the small, medium businesses and into a larger business.
What have you been proud of?
There’s been a couple of instances where I took on categories and made some quite significant cost saving measures. It's a real tangible thing. I’ve also just had my six months’ probation and been promoted. I started as a junior consultant and now I've been promoted to a consultant based on the different projects I’ve worked on and my achievements. That alone speaks volumes really.
Has the reality of working at Lidl lived up to your expectations?
The challenges are exactly what I expected them to be. To be honest, it's over-delivered in terms of the team dynamic, because when I started I thought it was a big corporation, so maybe people wouldn’t speak to each other or socialise outside of work. I have a lovely team to work with that are supportive - you can have a catch up over a coffee if you need to talk about anything.
What about training and development?
I believe the offering is growing. Just last week we had two days of Excel training. And I think if I proposed something that I really felt was important, it’s a discussion that could be had.
How do you see your career progressing?
I've literally just been promoted, so my priority certainly over the next six months is to just really develop my expertise. I really want to become more of a specialist within costing and the budgets, and with the categories. After that? Well Lidl is growing so quickly, so anything can happen. Watch this space.
What sort of qualities do you think somebody needs to do your job?
I think you need to be quite resilient, proactive, willing to get stuck in and put on your detective hat. Sometimes you have to do a bit of digging as the answers don't come to you on a plate - you have to use your initiative and figure it out. It doesn't matter if you're a day or a month in, a year in. There's still so much to learn and you have to be able to crack on.
If you were chatting to your friends about Lidl, what would you say to persuade them to come and work here?
If you're ambitious, then it's a good environment to be in because it is growing. You take on a lot of responsibility quite quickly. Then if you prove yourself, and you make an impact, you get rewarded. Yet you also feel rewarded because you've achieved things. You can take ownership quite quickly.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I've never learned so much in my entire life… new terms, loads of new techniques, methods, and working with lots of data. The exposure is huge. I work across the different teams within procurement, different stakeholder departments. You build up this huge network across the business, and it's amazing to be a part of it.
Can you think of four words to describe Lidl?
Fast-paced. Challenging, Ambitious. Rewarding.