‘Work-life balance is hugely important’
My career path: Maude O’Sullivan is a graduate area manager with Aldi
Maude O’Sullivan: “I would encourage graduates and students to speak with people in careers that interest them and perhaps try getting some work experience in that area.”
What/where did you study and when did you graduate?
I studied a BA in arts (Irish and new media) at the University of Limerick. I finished my studies in Queen’s University Belfast in 2015, where I graduated with an MSc in management.
Why did you apply to the company you now work for?
I commenced my role as graduate area manager at Aldi three years ago. I was initially attracted to the level of responsibility and autonomy that Aldi gives to graduates. As well as this, I loved that the company invested in their people, not just by providing a clear and structured overview of the year ahead, but by continuing to support learning through a comprehensive suite of training courses. This, combined with the fantastic starting salary and range of additional benefits, made the Aldi graduate programme incomparable to any other graduate programme on the market.
What did you find most challenging about the working world?
The thing that I found most challenging about the working world was finding a way to ensure that I completed everything that I needed to do, in the correct time frame. This was a big change, where missing deadlines could fundamentally impact on a store, department or the overall customer experience. I received huge support by my mentor who was assigned to me on my very first day. He was there at every step of my training to support and offer encouragement throughout my year of learning.
Do you have any mentors and if so what is their value to you?
There is a fantastic team of area managers with various different backgrounds and lengths of service. If ever I need advice I can always ask a colleague. There is a great sense of camaraderie across the area manager team and my colleagues are a resource that I really value. Although I have been in the company for three years, from time to time things crop up that I may be unsure of or have not experienced before and having people you can talk things through with makes for better decision-making. I think that’s what makes Aldi so different as an organisation – everyone looks out for each other and wills each other to succeed.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined the workforce?
The most valuable thing that I have learned since joining the workforce is that planning and organisation are key to being successful at work and in maintaining a good work-life balance. Work-life balance is hugely important. When you are responsible for a multi-million euro area, it’s vital to ensure you have the necessary down time – a chance to recharge and clear your head so you can bring your best to your people when at work.
One piece of advice for graduates?
The advice I would give to graduates would be when choosing a career path, take your time and explore all of your options before making a decision. Consider past experiences and use the internet to research career options that may be of interest to you. I would encourage graduates and students to speak with people in careers that interest them and perhaps try getting some work experience in that area. Choosing a career is an important decision and should be made based on a person’s own preference, not that of others around them. Aldi are always very open in this regard. They encourage candidates to meet with existing area managers so as to give them an inside view of not just the role, but Aldi. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in a career with Aldi do this. It gives you a wealth of information about what your career could look like in the short, medium and long term.