Graduates Blog

Embracing Opportunities for Growth at Arla

Only one year ago, I was part of the assessment centre for the MENA Graduate Programme in Dubai. After several rounds of interviews, I flew back to Egypt where I returned to my “normal” routine. A day later, I received a message from one of the friends I had made during the interview process asking me, “Did they call you?”. My heart dropped and I spend the day in restless anxiety. After a very long day – maybe the longest in my life - I received a phone call. It was the best phone call that I had received in a very long time. A month into my rotation, it became evident to me that I was even more lucky than I had imagined that day in April when I received the phone call. Now I know for sure that if you are passionate about leading, creating and executing your own projects, and have the vision to see what is valuable about working within a team, then you are the right person to be part of Arla.

I am currently on my first rotation working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was a bit nervous initially as I didn’t know much about the country. I had several questions on my mind such as: Will I be able to go out in my free time? Will I be able to make friends? What if I can’t speak Arabic? However, I quickly found out that all my worries were unnecessary. To my surprise, our biggest operation in the MENA region is in Saudi. With a big operation like the Riyadh office, many opportunities for improvement, learning and achievement come along.

I have already had many astounding experiences here at the Riyadh office, One of these where when I had the chance to present my project in front of 200+ employees at our quarterly kick-off meeting. I never would have imagined to be able to deliver such a demanding task. But this is an example of what we do at Arla: the more you perform, the more responsibility is assigned to you. My learning curve has been exponential.

So you must be wondering what project I’m leading for my first rotation? Essentially is about creating the “perfect” in-store excellence guidelines. The nature of my project required me to collaborate with members of the management team all the way to the field sales team. It is one thing to design a framework, and another to ensure execution and compliance. The latter is much more challenging. If you are like me and have no prior managerial experience, then picture yourself micro-managing all levels of employees, collaborating with senior professionals and reaching out to sales reps and merchandisers. This is what I have been doing and exactly what is encouraged. Did I think I had the experience or personal skills to do it? Not really, However, if you are already within the programme, then rest assured you have what it takes.

If there is a highlight I’d like to share with you about KSA, then it is the ideology of unlocking potential, of unleashing and nurturing your capabilities. I can tell you that the Riyadh office is a highly professional environment where new ideas and initiatives are valued, and as a graduate you are valued for your skills. It is also a challenging environment as it is a mix of two cultures; Danya, our subsidiary in KSA, and Arla intertwined. You will experience an encouragement and appreciation while you help moving Arla forward.

If you are looking to grow professionally and want to work with diverse teams and gain experience that is usually accumulated over years in other work environments, then Arla is definitely your place to be!



Name: Ahmed
Position: MENA Graduate
Period: Batch 2017
Location: Riyadh
Department: Trade Marketing