Graduates Blog

My 1st month at an international host site as a Production Management Graduate Published May 2018 by Thomas Ridsdale

Hello there! My name is Tom, and I have just completed my first month at my international host site: Rødkærsbro in Denmark. Hopefully, my experiences will give you a sneak peek into what it is like to work for Arla Foods in general and abroad. If you are traversing this part of the world wide web in search of a new career, this blog post will leave you with no doubt about applying for a career at Arla. If you are here for ulterior motives, I cannot promise I will fulfil your hopes and dreams, but you may leave mildly interested.

First and foremost, I must admit this is not the only time I have had the pleasure of working in Denmark for Arla (reward for achievements in a past life maybe?). I spent a few months at Gjesing Dairy making blue cheese old school Danish style, while on the Eden Dairy Technology programme (another great programme for those interested in blending academic study with industrial experience). Despite having previous experience in the ways of the Danes, it is still an exciting prospect being lucky enough to work and live in another country and culture other than your own. It is a chance to gain an in-depth knowledge of another category of the industry while developing those all-important management and leadership skills.

Rødkærsbro Mejeri - that’s dairy for all of you not fluent in Danish like myself (honest) - is a large mozzarella plant in the heart of Jutland. The site produces over 220 tons of cheese a day, which is the equivalent of 1.3 million pizzas. I should also mention that Rødkærsbro shreds and packs a variety of other cheeses such as Cheddar, Emmental and Edam to name a few. The site is truly a global supplier; mozzarella produced here is enjoyed in over 90 countries worldwide!

I don’t always take my work home with me, but when I do, it’s usually pizza.

“What are you doing there, Tom?” I can hear you say with bated breath. Well, I have been given the responsibility of creating a masterplan for increasing site capacity by 50% which is honestly quite a daunting task but also a unique opportunity to work with different stakeholders in the business and gain key understanding of the whole mozzarella supply chain. The plan will incorporate current equipment and how to address bottlenecks, working with NPD and R&D to ensure the site is fully synchronised with future technology, new equipment proposals which will fall in line with (or go beyond!) Industry 4.0 and our competitors, while ensuring compliance with current systems and frameworks.

One month into my time here, I can tell you I am only scratching the surface of what is required of me. This is why working for Arla should appeal to anyone wanting a challenge: They will push you towards goals you wouldn’t imagine yourself going for. I am lucky to be at a site like Rødkærsbro where there is as much support as I need; be it from the Site Director or from any member from any department, even if their English is as bad as my Danish, we find a way! I have also been fortunate to join my site director at the head office in Aarhus for the category review with the Vice President of Cheddar and Mozzarella (what a job title!), seeing the industry from different perspectives and levels is another reason why I feel Arla is a great place to grow your career.

Finally, I don’t care what people say about Denmark, I think it’s a wonderful place! I mean who doesn’t like pastry, bacon, hotdogs, vikings, Lego, Mads Mikkelsen, sandwiches missing the top bit of bread, “Hygge”, and obviously Mozzarella. If you do find yourself in this green and pleasant land just remember to pack your woolly hat, half 7 is actually 6:30, and be ready to sell one of your kidneys to buy a pint of beer, you won’t be needing it anyway.


Thomas Ridsdale


Position: Production Management Graduate Programme
Period: 2017
Department: Supply Chain, Rødkærsbro Dairy