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One graduate shares what it's like being on Aldi's Graduate Area Manager Programme

The Graduate Area Manager Programme by Aldi is one of the UK's most lucrative grad schemes, with a £44,000 starting salary and offer of your own Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, it definitely attracts a lot of attention.

But what is the work actually like? And what type of person succeeds at Aldi? 

We hear from Laura Trainor, an Area Manager based in Darlington. 

Laura manages a team of 90 across four stores in the region and she relishes the responsibility involved in this leadership role, enjoying supporting each store and colleague and seeing them succeed.

Laura was first attracted to the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme after hearing about the competitive role while at university. Her skills suited the role perfectly, she explains, “After achieving a 2:1 degree in Mathematics and Business at Northumbria University, and excelling in modules and assignments focusing on business environments, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in  management. That’s why the Graduate Area Manager Programme with Aldi was particularly appealing to me, drawing on my keen interest of learning about every aspect of a business, as well as my key strengths, people and time management.”

Laura applied for the programme after graduation and began her fast-paced development as an Aldi Area Manager. “The Graduate Area Manager Programme involves one year of world class, on the job training,” she explains.

“During my first year, I was exposed to the different work environments and varied aspects of the business. This involved spending time gaining hands on, shop floor experience interacting with colleagues and customers. 'I also spent time at the Darlington Regional Distribution Centre (RDC) as well as the regional Head Office to learn and develop operational skills. This aided my understanding of the wider business, and helped me to understand how my role is integral to its success. The training left me feeling inspired and prepared to take charge of my own stores.”

Laura has now established herself as a proficient Area Manager, in charge of four stores across the Darlington region. Describing her role, Laura explains that no two days are ever the same: “My weeks involve travelling across the region and between stores, as it’s so important to have face time with the different teams. This allows me to get to know Store Managers on a personal level, but also spend time on the shop floor speaking to all the colleagues. I feel like I have gotten to know everyone better, which has helped me to understand what I can do to support them and improve their working environment.

“The colleagues are my favourite part of my job and I love seeing different faces every day."

“While I’m at each store, I will have a meeting with the Store Manager to look at how the store performed in the previous week and look ahead to what we need to achieve in the coming weeks. Each store has sales and efficiency targets to achieve, so by being in the store with the teams on a regular basis, I can help them to keep on track with these and ensure that they exceed them month on month.

“Away from the store environment, I also liaise with my Operations Director and wider teams based in the regional office, implementing regional projects such as new merchandising or customer service strategies.”

Laura notes that people management is a stand-out skill of hers, and something that’s essential for successful Area Managers: “I am a Personnel Leader to all colleagues working in my stores, this means that I am their go to should they have any problems, both in work or on a personal level. I enjoy this part of my role as it gives me more personal interaction on a day-to-day basis, it enables me to get to know more of my team, and it allows me to gain more insight into what life working in each store is like.

“The colleagues are my favourite part of my job and I love seeing different faces every day. The training offered was a huge influence when making my decision to apply for the role and I feel honoured to now be passing on the knowledge I have to my colleagues, supporting them as they develop within their roles.”

Now an integral member of the Aldi team, Laura suggests that in order to be a successful Area Manager, candidates looking to apply for the role should, “Be motivated and driven to succeed, with a strong work ethic. You are responsible for managing your own time and workload, and so it’s important to have good time management skills and be able to juggle multiple tasks at once.

“During the interview process, applicants should demonstrate how they welcome and address new challenges, and showcase examples of how they have worked within a team in previous environments. Finally, let your personality shine through; showcase that you are committed and perfect for the role.”

Whether just finishing studying, or looking for a career change, candidates can apply for the Graduate Area Manager Programme if they have a 2:1 degree in any subject, and will receive a starting salary of £44,000 rising to £76,495 after four years. Candidates with previous experience managing a team can apply for the Programme if they have a 2:1 degree in any subject, and will start on a year two salary of £52,540. As well as competitive pay, Aldi Area managers receive amazing benefits such as an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series and a discounted Health Cash Plan and much more.

For further information about the opportunities available with Aldi, click below.

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