The Durham graduate who went from a professional footballer to joining Aldi's graduate programme

Sean Talbot

The Aldi graduate programme is one of the most talked about in the UK, with its starting salary of £44,000 and offer of your own Audi A4 or BMW 3 series, it attracts a lot of attention from a lot of grads.

But what about the role itself? How hard really is it, and what type of person succeeds as a Graduate Area Manager? 

We hear from Callum, a Graduate Area Manager working in Aldi’s Darlington region.

Callum used to be a professional footballer, but he decided to study at Durham University to learn about the competitive world of business. It was at Durham where Callum first heard about the Graduate Area Manager Programme at a university careers event.

“As soon as I started speaking to the Aldi representative, I knew that this was the career for me. Of course, everyone is excited about the amazing benefits associated with the Area Manger role such as an Audi A4/BMW 3 series and £44,000 starting salary, but for me it was the responsibility and realistic progression opportunities that enticed me. I studied business and management at university and knew that this was the only area that really sparked my interest – so the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme suited me perfectly,” he says.

Now that Callum has graduated and joined the Aldi programme, he has a huge amount of responsibility – both in managing stores and their employees. Following the intense 12 month of training all new starters receive he is now on the ground working closely with Store Managers to ensure each store has everything it needs, from stock to staff requirements, he also reports back to the Store Operations Director in Darlington to share the stores’ results.

As well as being a Direct Leader to the Store Managers he works with, Callum is also a Personnel Leader to the 90 Aldi colleagues working within the stores. This means that he is responsible for their wellbeing and involves him having regular meetings with the Store Management team, and the wider store teams when required. This ensures that all colleagues are happy within their work environment, feel supported by their direct leader and wider team and are offered opportunities to train, develop and progress as necessary.

"My favourite part of the job is when I get to promote someone"

People management is one of the things Callum loves about his job: "I really enjoy working with people, helping them to progress as well as supporting them on a personal level. I like to get to know my teams so that I can identify when someone needs help, whether that's at work or if they're going through something at home. I am also extremely ambitious and while I want to continue to take on new challenges myself and develop within my own role, I also like to support my team in reaching their goals and moving up the ladder too. My favourite part of the job is when I get to promote someone. Seeing their hard work pay off is wonderful," he says.

Callum thrives off of the level of responsibility entrusted to Graduate Area Managers, and says that anyone looking to join the programme must be prepared to have a lot of ownership.

“Being an Area Manager comes with a lot of responsibility, which I think everyone should understand. By week 15 you’ll have the keys to your own store and you don’t check in with your Store Operations Director everyday so you’ve really got to take your training on board and hit the ground running. This is a huge motivator for me as I relish the responsibility, but I know that this can be a challenge for others, so new candidates must be prepared for this.”

As well as working hard maintaining his Aldi area, Callum also gets involved in the charitable work Aldi offer its staff with their chosen charity, Teenage Cancer Trust. Callum says that he leads the region in all fundraising activity, such as organising an exercise bike to be placed in every Aldi store across the region and encouraging colleagues to cycle for a day.

“We raised £36,500 in just twelve hours,” Callum says.

As Callum continues to progress through his role, if you think you have what it takes to manage your own region of Aldi stores, click below to learn more about the programme and apply.