Aldi is now well known for its successful retailing strategy which it says is “based on the objective of providing customers with a high quality range of products at the best prices, in order to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction”. The company has a strong reputation for the high levels of pay and benefits it offers to graduates, but what’s it like to work there?
Sharifa Saleji who graduated from Warwick in 2015 told me how she is finding the Trainee Area Manager Graduate programme. Over to Sharifa:
“I am really enjoying myself! The job is challenging in many ways and I can sometimes work long hours but I get an enormous sense of satisfaction and I have genuine responsibility.
There is a real sense of purpose to the Aldi Area Manager Graduate training. I spent my first two weeks with an active Area Manager and then the following four weeks working as a Store Assistant. I have had lots of retail experience in the past but nothing had quite prepared me for the great attention to detail required to make sure that customers are served and the store is run the efficient “Aldi way” which has seen such business growth.
I did wonder whether I would be able to remember everything and if I would be able to manoeuvre the big pallets around. Working in Aldi can certainly be physically demanding! I also worried in advance about how the store staff and Managers would react to me, as the young Graduate, on the fast track to senior management. I needn’t have. I’ve been well treated by the other staff in all the stores where I have worked, they can see that I’m one of the team. I get stuck in and I’m respected for that. It’s also in the interest of a Store Manager to help out the graduate trainee. I’m going to be managing those Store Managers soon. Senior management are friendly and supportive. I follow a structured training programme to ensure I am ready for the Area Manager career that’s ahead of me. If store managers can see that you’re prepared to put in the effort and that you can build relationships with store teams and the customers, then they’re more than happy to offer their time and advice to support you.
After this first “in-store” experience I was transferred to another store as a Trainee Store Manager. I spent six weeks in this role before moving on to a third store as the Manager. That’s quite some progression and when I have finished my working day I have to study the Aldi training manual to prepare for tests which require very precise retail procedural knowledge. I am learning in minute detail about the Aldi way of running a successful business, I also have to learn product codes for some of our lines. There isn’t time when you’re on a till to look up a missing code. It’s this sort of knowledge which enables Aldi to serve customers so quickly and efficiently.
The perks are really good. My salary is £42,000 and I have a fully expensed Audi A4, five weeks holiday a year and am a member of a very competitive pension scheme. I will be an active Area Manager soon and if things go well I could hope for promotion to Director level within a few years. The package makes me feel valued and special. I want to do my best to help Aldi build on its success.
So, what are my tips on the application process? Spend time on the application form getting the answers to the questions good. Careers in Warwick helped me a lot with applications, teaching me how to “put myself across”. I do recommend getting support from careers. When it came to the assessment centre I think the exercises made me competitive. I wanted to win and I did! I am not an aggressive person so I don’t think I did it in a combative way, I like to think that Aldi were looking for my steely determination!
A retail graduate scheme can offer you lots of variety, genuine early responsibility and great rewards for hard work! Go for it!”