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  • Meet Mark: Logistics Graduate turned Operations Manager leading 92 colleagues

Meet Mark: Logistics Graduate turned Operations Manager leading 92 colleagues

Meet Mark: Logistics Graduate turned Operations Manager leading 92 colleagues Mark Keresztes | Product Owner, Global End-to-End Planning | Aarhus, Denmark

Mark was Arla UK’s first Logistics Graduate back in 2014. Rotating between different functions taught him how the whole supply chain works and became a steppingstone for his career journey in Arla. Find out how Mark developed to become Team Leader and later Operations Manager leading 92 colleagues at Westbury’s Inbound Transport Depot. Now, he has relocated to Denmark to take on a new role as Product Owner.

Mark studied Transport and Logistics Management at The University of Huddersfield, and in 2014 he became the first ever Logistics Graduate in Arla UK. During the one-year programme, Mark spent 4-6 weeks in different logistics teams: Outbound, Inbound, Warehousing, Fleet, Administration, and Customer Service.

“At age 22, it was key to get different exposure because it helped me decide what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. I went out with the drivers and visited the dairies and farms as well. I learned how the whole supply chain works and how the different logistics functions play into each other. It was valuable to build that knowledge early on,” Mark says.

“I’m proud to be paving the way for future students. When I started, I was the first and only one. Now, we take on 4-6 students a year, many of whom stay on with Arla and have strong careers,” he adds.

Becoming a people manager

After finishing his studies, Mark became a Team Leader at Arla’s Inbound Logistics Operations in Leeds. He shares how he experienced the transition from being a graduate to becoming a people manager:

“Arla is not afraid to promote young people into roles with lots of responsibility if they think you are of the right calibre. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. I was basically going into an operation where I would be leading people twice or three times my age. In reality, my age was never held against me.”

“I think it was because I took the time and effort to get to know people and what I needed to do to be a leader. I wasn’t afraid to ask my colleagues who had a lot more experience, knowledge and ideas than me. My role was to extract that by talking and listening to them, then go about putting those ideas in place. I felt like I went into that role as a student and came out as a professional.”

From operations to planning

Two years later, Mark was looking for his next challenge. So, he made a cross-functional move from having an operational role in the Supply Chain organisation to becoming a Bulk Cream Planner at Arla UK’s head office in Leeds.

“It was weird going from an operational environment with the 24/7 hustle and bustle, working days and nights, to an office job. I remember sitting at my desk flicking my pen thinking: “It’s so quiet in here.” I soon got used to that, and worked in a great team and gained a lot of new planning skills,” he says and continues:

“It was beneficial to have operational experience because I knew how the decisions we were making in planning would be executed on the ground.”

Collecting milk from farms to dairies

In 2020, Mark came back to Supply Chain when he took up a role as Operations Manager at the Inbound Transport Depot in Westbury. Here, he is leading 92 colleagues who are collecting several million litres of milk a week from 300 farms and distributing it to multiple dairies across the UK.

“To lead the depot, the drivers and the fleet within, the most important thing is to make sure the operation is running as smoothly as possible. So, I start my day by checking in with my colleagues that the night shift has gone well, there have not been any issues or absence, that the guys are out, and the wheels are turning,” Mark explains and elaborates:

“We follow the milk plan allocated by the central planning team (my former team) and make sure our routes and deliveries are carried out efficiently. But things change on a day-to-day basis and volumes fluctuate a lot, so we need to keep on top of our performance to prevent running additional kilometres on routes unnecessarily.”

New learnings in Denmark

Mark has recently relocated to Denmark, where he is settling in with his wife. They’re excited to explore the country further as they start this new chapter. Mark’s new role as Product Owner in Arla’s Global End-to-End Planning team sees him move into a different area of Supply Chain and he’s looking forward to the challenge of learning and developing further.