Graduates Blog

Advice I would give to myself if I were to now start the F15 programme…

Time flies... 2.5 rotations, 3 countries, 3 job titles and 3 F15® trainings later, it’s now time to put on those graduation goggles and indulge in some retrospective reflection of key learnings in the last two years.

Published: May 11, 2017 by Rucha Sarma

We are now in the process of applying for jobs and taking on learnings from the program into our future careers. As a reflection exercise, I decided to make a list of “advice I would give myself if I were to now start the F15® program”. I got some feedback from other graduates in my cow-hort and came up with these seven pearls of wisdom that might be helpful for future generations of F15s:

  1. Challenge yourself: The F15® program offers a great platform to get exposure to several different markets, functions and stakeholders. It’s very rare you will get an opportunity like this again in your career. Make the most of the two years! Challenge yourself, try to push your boundaries and get out of your comfort zone. If you’ve always wanted to live in Africa, try it. If you’ve never worked in IT but would like to give it a shot, seize that opportunity. It’s only 8 months. Chances are you will love it and if you don’t, it will still be a great learning experience! It’s better to live a life of “oh-well’s” rather than “what-ifs”.
  2. Connect, not network: One of the greatest differentiators or Arla are it’s people – we are owned by farmers and fuelled by passionate employees who really want to change the future of dairy. Everyone you meet has something to offer and is someone you can learn from. It’s genuine and authentic relationships that will help you in your career and not superficial networking with key stakeholders.

  1. Be humble: Most of us come into Arla as fresh graduates from University. A lot of us have might have graduated from prestigious Universities and have had leadership experience from student associations but when you come to Arla, you’re still a novice. It’s good to be humble and see how you can “stay hungry and foolish” for new knowledge and experience.
  2. Be a glocal citizen: The Arla F15® program offers you the opportunity to try the expatriate life and really broaden that global mindset. It’s so important to embrace local culture, wherever you are. Getting into an expat bubble is easy but truly understanding the reality of the market and getting insight into local consumer mindset requires integration into local culture.
  3. Be bold: Humility is great but it shouldn’t stop you from being a change agent. You might be young and not have a lot of experience but you can impact change and that is why you were recruited. Don’t be afraid to be bold, to suggest new things and to reinvent the wheel – that is how you really prove yourself! 8 months may not feel like a long time to make a difference but it is! Think of the legacy you want to leave behind.
  4. Be aware of your personal brand: The F15® program has a great reputation within the organisation which comes with its own brand perceptions but within the program, you as an individual also have a personal brand. Make sure you are aware of it and that you work on it. Be authentic, ask for feedback and work on yourself. You have three fresh opportunities to build on your brand – make sure it’s consistent and aligned with the image you want for yourself.
  5. Find that trusted council of advisors: The F15® program has a lot of perks but it also challenges you in many ways. Whether it is deciding on where to go next or managing difficult stakeholders or just developing that perfect powerpoint slide – it’s good to get some help. Leverage the F15® cow-mmunity, your buddies and mentors, Host Managers and colleagues or even people outside of the organisation. My experience is that no one has shot me down when asking for help so don’t be afraid to reach out!

Above all, to be consistent with cheesy clichés, have fun! Hundreds of people apply for this program, only a selected few get in- make the most of this experience!

Rucha Sarma

New Zealander
Position: F15® 2015 Team
Period: 2015
Location: Denmark/Nigeria/United Kingdom
Department: 1st Rotation: Assistant Brand Manager, Global Categories - Milk, Aarhus, Denmark. 2nd Rotation: Commercial Cost Specialist, Consumer International, Lagos, Nigeria. 3rd Rotation: Marketing, e-commerce, Leeds, United Kingdom