Graduates Blog

In Gdansk, we also let in the goodness…

In a country where Arla products are hard to spot, I know that I am not using our slogan the way that it is intended. But here in Gdansk, we also let in the goodness.

Published: January 19, 2017 by Yolanda Tsai

When I was first told that I was going to Gdansk, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I always knew that we had an office in Gdansk, I mean, that’s where I had to send all the receipts when I’ve made an expense report. But how was the organization? And what exactly do they do? What does the city have to offer (is it better than Aarhus?!)? And how are the people going to be?

I feel a strong connection to the people I work with in HQ and my manager whom I can say has contributed the most to my ‘successes’ and development as a young professional. I have made a lot of friends that I would consider some of the closest people that I have in my life. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was sure that it could never beat the experience I’ve had at HQ. Also, I have no expertise in Finance and was so worried that I would not be able to perform and deliver what was expected. So, excited but anxious; that’s the way that all the F15s feel when they are told where they are going to go on their rotation. So what are some of my insights…?

Let’s take a quick virtual walk with me. At around 8:00 (okay, 8:30 sometimes), I walk to work and get in the lift to the 9th floor. When you enter, you are greeted with two gorgeous ladies that will make you feel like you are the VIP that they have been waiting for all morning. They look so happy to see you with their very genuine smiles, and they give off a very cheerful and positive vibe. This is how I choose to start my morning even though I actually work on the 8th floor and really have no business on the 9th floor. I walk down the stairs to the 8th floor, and when I turn the corner to my table, everyone says ‘Czesc’, which means ‘Hello’ in Polish. Every single day that I have been here, someone has initiated a conversation with me and asked me whether I need help with anything in the office or restaurant recommendations, etc. These smiles and short conversations continue the whole day, i.e. when I go to the coffee machine or fill up my water bottle. As always, everyone is super busy, but within the first week of being here, all my major stakeholders have made time to explain and teach me the foundation I need for the project and offered their continuous support while I am here. The only way that I can explain it is that coming to the office makes me excited and inspired because of the positive energy everyone is exerting. And although it’s only been some weeks…I feel like I’ve always belonged in this office and it is my new home.

I strongly believe that this culture has a lot to do with leadership. In Arla HQ we are close to our famers, close to our products, close to our identity, and close to our values. And how does this identity and value resonate to a part of the organization that is far from our farmers and far from our products?

Culture and leadership is a big topic here at Arla, and what does leadership mean to me? Having worked at this organization for 2 years, I am very proud whenever I speak of the leaders that we have at Arla. My experience is that they always take the time and energy to build a personal relationship and to help develop me, and I am nostalgic when I think about the leaders I worked with back in HQ. I don’t believe that there is one right way of leadership, and I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I can only say that the leaders here let in the goodness and this goodness is contagious and resonates to all employees; exactly the way that our bodies are effected by the goodness of the milk that we consume. The approachableness (is this a word? It is now.), passion, and positive energy trickles down in the organization and I believe that the culture in this organization is a direct impact of the leaders. It is really inspiring to see how much Arla focuses on people in all parts of our organization – and I would say that this is the biggest selling point of the Arla F15® program. You are given the chance to be sculpted into a future leader of Arla – and all the leaders together create the culture of the organization. Having the chance to be a part of the future of this culture and maybe be given the torch to carry this identity and these values forward into the next generations is a very honorable role. This being said, I do want to take a moment to positively differentiate our Gdansk office from this general goodness in our culture, and if you ever have a chance to visit Gdansk, you’ll know what I mean within 5 minutes. 

Yolanda Tsai

Position: F15® 2016 Team 
Period: 2016
Location: Poland/Germany
Department: 1st Rotation: Shared Services, Gdansk, Poland. 2nd Rotation: Sales, Düsseldorf, Germany.