‘Having purpose and making a real impact across the business is great’
Lidl Ireland is looking for candidates for its graduate programme who are adaptable to change and want to thrive in a fast-paced environment. We talk to a previous graduate about how it helped her career path to date
Lidl's 18-month graduate programme keeps the number of participants small to give each of them the chance to think big.
Those looking for an exciting and dynamic career path should be ready to hit the ground running with Lidl Ireland’s tailor-made graduate programme, which offers training and development opportunities to every participant.
Each graduate will be given a better understanding of how the business works at every level, spending time in stores, warehouses and head office. Graduates will also receive one-to-one coaching, competency assessment days and a structured mentorship programme.
Lidl Ireland is looking for candidates with a 2.1 level 8 honours degree in any discipline, who are adaptable to change, self-motivated and thrive in a fast-paced environment. Lidl Ireland's Graduate Programme has recently been accredited by City & Guilds which demonstrates the quality of the training and development.
Graduate team members are given exposure to an array of business areas, each of which contributes to the company’s business as well as its A Better Tomorrow strategy, which sees the company undertake several objectives to ensure it delivers on its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). Each new graduate will learn first-hand how to implement this in their day-to-day jobs with the retailer.
For example, working with Lidl Ireland's Central Services departments and getting involved in the installation of the largest solar panel field in Ireland, adding LED lighting to store specifications, and continuing to install electric vehicle charging points across stores nationwide. Zero waste to landfill commitments are maintained through effective waste sorting processing, while adding in-store recycling this year means customers can recycle before even leaving the store.
Working with the Sales Organisation department to achieve the goal of efficiency, for example cutting down on paper waste, through receipt shortening, or adding a function to tills to allow customers opt out of receiving a receipt. They also work on ways to improve the redistribution of surplus food to charities through FoodCloud. To date, Lidl Ireland has donated over 1.4 million meals to over 300 charities across Ireland.
Lidl graduates receive a starting salary of €36,400, along with a competitive benefits package and excellent opportunities for career progression.
We met Eva Kelly, HR programme manager, Engagement and Employee Relations, to hear about her experiences on the Lidl Graduate Programme and how it helped her on her career to date.
Eva studied economics and sociology at UCD before completing a Masters in Sociology in UCD and a Masters in HR in the UCD Smurfit School in 2015. “I finished up at Smurfit in August 2015 and started on the Lidl Graduate Programme in September 2015,” she says.
What attracted you to the programme? Were you always interested in retail?
“I had heard about Lidl before but didn’t know much about the graduate programme before I went to a Grad Recruitment Fair in college, where Lidl had a stand. I spoke to one of the people on the stand and she explained the HR Programme and how it was built around the different areas of HR. That was ideal for me as I hadn’t decided which particular area of HR I wanted to go into at that time.
“I had done my thesis on retail and the strategies that sales assistants use when dealing with customers. It dealt with high-end retail and the high expectations of customers and how sales assistants can maintain their composure and professionalism when dealing with them. I hadn’t worked in retail before that, so Lidl was a completely new experience for me. I absolutely love it. It’s so fast-paced; you keep learning and you have an ability to make a real impact.”
How did the programme go?
“It’s an 18-month programme and I spent the first three months in stores, warehouses and regional offices working my way through all the different roles in the organisation such as customer assistant, deputy store manager, store manager, warehouse manager, area manager and so on. I learned about the core of the business. The idea is that when you come back to head office you know the impact of what you are doing on the shop and warehouse floors. It’s really interesting; I had a great time and learnt a lot.
“I spent the remaining 15 months in head office working with the different HR teams. I worked in areas such as Learning and Development, Recruitment, Employer Brand, Payroll, and Employee Relations. Working in different areas gives you a unique opportunity to experience all aspects of HR and learn about the different departments from an operations point of view. You are given projects and tasks to work on at the same time - it’s a great way of learning. You are given responsibility from the start and you are given the support achieve your full potential.”
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
“The responsibility. I had the opportunity to work on the We Are Lidl initiative. This was the largest single employee engagement event held by Lidl in Ireland. We had all 5,000 employees in the CityWest Hotel in Dublin during the five days of the event to communicate our values and commitment to them. I was also involved in the Work Safe Live Well programme and the Customer First programme. As a graduate it was great to work on initiatives like these where you know you’re making a real impact for employees across the business.”
What is your current role in Lidl?
“I look after a range of different programmes and projects that fall under employee relations. The Work Safe Live Well programme looks after each and every one of our employees and takes a three-pronged approach addressing health and wellbeing, safety, and financial wellness. The programme also deals with mental health awareness, healthy eating and training on new safety equipment.
“As a business we do a lot of work on diversity and inclusion. It’s part of Lidl, and our partnerships with Jigsaw and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association are external manifestations of that commitment.
“I also work on the Ready for Work programme with Business in the Community Ireland. That provides training programmes for individuals who have been out of employment for a long period of time. We offer people an opportunity to get back into the workplace, help them acquire new skills, and build confidence. They could be out of work for 10 or 15 years and it can be hard to get back in with such a gap in a CV. We give them the opportunity to work in our stores and this helps them get back into the routine of work and to learn new skills. It’s been running for the past year. It’s a really exciting programme to be involved in.
“Our Charleville region down in Cork is working with the Cope Foundation on an Ability at Work programme. This offers people with disabilities the opportunity to work in our stores.
“These things replicate what we do internally. It’s about us putting our money where our mouth is. The key to our diversity and inclusion activities internally is that everything we do is driven by employee feedback. We use focus groups and employee surveys to gather information about what we are doing well, what we are not doing well and what we can do to change that.
“Having that impact and purpose behind what you do on a daily basis is really great. You feel you really are making a difference.”
And how has the graduate programme helped you in your role at Lidl?
“The great thing about the graduate programme is that you are given a lot of responsibility. It is tough work but you get a lot of support from your line managers and from the people you work with. When you move on from the programme to a permanent role you are able to take the experience you have gained and use it to have a positive impact on your colleagues.”
For more information about the Lidl Graduate Programme, visit jobs.lidl.ie/en/grad.htm