Krishma studied a BSc in Psychology at the University of Warwick and had decided on a consulting career, until she found out about Aldi's Graduate Area Manager Programme and managed to secure a place on the scheme
How did you get onto the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme?
I was originally interested in pursuing a consulting career and attended a networking event at university. It was there that I met somebody who had previously worked for Aldi and they spoke very highly of their experience. They described the programme as one that rewards hard work and promotes significant growth and development, giving you the keys to your area - a multimillion pound business - within a year. That evening, instead of applying for a consultancy scheme, I decided to research and apply to Aldi - and the rest is history.
What's a typical day like on the scheme?
The role is very people focused as they are central to our company. A typical day starts with visiting a store, having a meeting with the store manager to discuss the previous week's key performance indicators (KPIs) and identifying areas of support, development or praise. It's also great to plan in a few personnel updates to catch up with your store colleagues and see how they're getting on. Finally, conducting interviews to meet potential future Aldi colleagues for my store.
What do you enjoy most about the programme?
I really enjoy the fact that you spend the first half of your training working your way through all the different roles within a store - from store assistant up to store manager. I think it really highlights the importance of understanding and experiencing these roles before you manage them, so that you can be as effective and empathetic as possible. The best bit about it is the amazing Aldi colleagues you get to meet along the way, many of whom I'm still in touch with.
What are the challenges?
The role itself is very challenging and demanding - this should not be underestimated. It's a real privilege to be an area manager, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. For example, you might plan your week meticulously and be ready to play tennis at 6pm on a Tuesday evening and then suddenly one of your stores loses all power, resulting in you spending the rest of that evening and the following day problem solving with your store team. You will need to adapt your plans throughout the week to accommodate various reactive scenarios, and that's okay.
In what way is your degree relevant?
My degree in psychology was all about understanding the human mind and emotional intelligence. A significant proportion of the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme is people focused, whether that relates to being a personnel leader to one hundred-plus colleagues in your area or as you become more experienced you begin mentoring future area managers. Emotional intelligence is pivotal within this role as you need to understand and empathise with a diverse range of individuals across multiple levels comfortably.
How has your role developed, and what are your career ambitions?
The first few years of becoming an area manager is all about driving performance within your area and building strong relationships with your store teams. Once you've demonstrated that you're able to do so, you might be offered the opportunity to work on regional or national projects alongside your direct leader.
My favourite part of role development was becoming a mentor, where I was able to train future area managers and play a pivotal role in their development and success within the business.
Since then, I've moved across to the logistics department on a secondment, which is a great opportunity to gain more exposure to other parts of the business. As for career ambitions, the sky is the limit at Aldi - the majority of our senior leadership team joined via the Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme.
What three tips would you give to those looking to apply for this scheme?
- Keep in mind that the focus of our company is our people - especially when you're answering questions such as, how can you support, manage and coach colleagues who may be significantly more experienced than you?
- Do your homework - researching a company not only shows you're willing to go the extra mile, but it's also important to figure out whether we're the right company for you too.
- Stand out from the crowd - as we receive lots of applications to our programme every year. We understand you may feel nervous, but try to relax and enjoy the assessment process. Always try to provide supporting examples wherever possible. For example, if you say that you're a good problem solver, think of a few scenarios that would demonstrate this really well.
Find out more
- Discover more about the role of a retail manager.
- Get the full lowdown on graduate schemes.
- Consider applying to Aldi's Graduate Area Manager Programme.