Case study

Area Manager — Kathryn Flanagan

Kathryn traded in her career as a financial investment consultant to join Aldi's Area Management Programme.

Why did you decide to move into retail?

I decided to change careers because I really wanted to work alongside people as part of a team. My previous role was very office-based. I wanted to do a job where I was out of the office, on the ground, getting stuck in, talking to people and managing a team.

I knew I wanted to move my career into management so I looked at several companies but Aldi was the only one that offered a fast-track option. Other companies I had looked at would have expected me to enter at store level and work my way up but Aldi offered the opportunity to work at a senior level very quickly.

You've got to be impeccably organised as that is really crucial to this busy role

How did you get your job?

After applying for the programme, I was invited to an interview. Having worked in previous roles, I have had a fair bit of interview experience. There were other, more recent graduates there who were younger than me but the fact that I already had some work and life experience worked in my favour. I'm organised and I'm quite a grounded person and I think that also helped.

What are your main work activities?

My day could involve anything from making sure that all the retail paperwork for my area is completed - things like accounting documents or health and safety procedures - to working hands on with teams in store, motivating or training staff and working with them to achieve the results we all want.

What are the best bits of the management scheme?

There is such a lot of retail experience, that if you don't know something, you'll bet there will be someone somewhere who does and who is happy to share that with you. On a more practical level, Aldi has been keen to make sure I have all the formal training I need on things like leadership, people management and trading law. I feel very well prepared for whatever challenges the role can throw at me.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The best bit of my job is when I am able to influence or implement something across the team that really makes a difference. Whether that is increased sales or seeing a team member you have helped to motivate to achieve their goals. That is so rewarding.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

The more challenging side of the job is that you are often the person people come to with problems. You need a sympathetic ear; listening skills are very important. It's part of the job. The most valuable thing I have learnt on this programme is that effective team communication across all the stores and all roles is vital to the success of the company.

What would you say to someone who wants to get into this job?

I would say that you've got to be impeccably organised as that is really crucial to this busy role. You have to be level headed and very focused - set a path and stick to it. But one of the great things about the job is that you have the autonomy to do that.

The financial rewards are very attractive but the responsibility is also great - I have a lot on my shoulders. Aldi's fast track-training means I'm in a higher position than many of my peers who entered graduate training schemes before me but Aldi comes first. In this role, you are always on call, that's just the nature of this industry.

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