Graduates Blog

“Flexible yet Structured” – Making Sense of the Graduate Programme Lingo

If you are a student finishing your degree in the summer of 2017, and are trying to figure out what you want to do next in life, you are in the exact same shoes as I was two years ago today.

Published: December 6, 2016 by Gunnel Bildt

I remember reading a lot of ads and descriptions on graduate programmes and similar positions. I also remember thinking, after having read a certain number of them, that they all sounded very similar. They were all challenging, flexible, ensuring a steep learning curve, supportive, cross-functional, you-know-the-rest. To help you interpret what some of these phrases actually mean, in practice, I want to share some of my own experience from the F15® programme. For this, I have chosen two of my favourite confusing phrases.

“Flexible yet structured” The F15® programme aims to expose you to three very different rotations, both functionally and geographically. As a general rule, this means one rotation in Arla’s headquarters (Denmark), one in a core market (Arla’s big European markets), and one in a growth market (international expansion markets outside Europe). This is a basic structure of the programme.

Apart from this guiding principle, there are no rules. Here, the flexibility comes in. Some want to try Logistics anywhere, because they’ve never been close to the supply chain. Some wish to do all their rotations in Europe for personal reasons. Some convince the programme management they are ready for Nigeria. Some choose to stay in HQ to jump the opportunity of a maternity cover supporting Arla top management. Some want to do a commercial project in Asia, because it’s so far out of their comfort zone in every aspect (that’s me…).

The result of “flexible yet structured” is actually – cliché incoming – that the story of the F15® programme becomes very different for each individual F15. For me, now finishing my second rotation and soon heading off to my third, it will look something like this:

  1. HELSINKI, Finland – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Strategy implementation
  2. AARHUS, Denmark – SUPPLY CHAIN QEHS: Responsible sourcing
  3. KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – INCUBATION PORTFOLIO: Product launches in China

“Supportive yet challenging” Once in the F15® programme, on your own flexible yet structured journey to personal and professional development, you are also part of all everything it entails in terms of programme structure.

For me, it has meant that the same people who are constantly challenging me to become my very best are also the people who are supporting me the most in this. The main reason I think this is a truly genuine claim in the case of the F15® programme is that this is actually a big group of people, consisting of the F15® programme management, my sponsor, my buddy, and last but definitely not least, my F15® colleagues. Challenge and support comes in formal ways, e.g. through trainings weeks, but also in a lot of informal ways, all depending on what relationships you build and cultivate along the way.

I hope I have helped you make some sense of what is behind the words in the case of the F15® programme. In the end, both of these examples come down to the same conclusion: The F15® programme will give you all the tools you need to become the best you can be – but it is up to you to define what that means for you, and make sure you get there.

Gunnel Bildt

Position: F15® 2015 Team
Period: 2015
Location: Finland/Denmark/Kuala Lumpur
Department: 1st Rotation: Project Manager, Business Development, Consumer Finland, Helsinki, Finland. 2nd Rotation: Certified Responsible Sourcing, Global QEHS, Aarhus, Denmark. 3rd Rotation: Incubation, deliver kids products and digital platform, Kuala Lumpur