Graduates Blog

My first month as a Production Management Graduate

Hi! My name is Olivia and I am part of the 2017/2018 Production Management Graduate (PMG) Programme. I am based in the UK, at the Oswestry packaging site near the Welsh border.

Published: October 16th, 2017 by Olivia Robson

I spent my first week as a PMG at Arla’s Headquarter in Denmark with the rest of the graduates from both the production sites and the F15 cohort. We had group training in everything from Arla’s business model, authentic leadership and presentation skills to how to make traditional Danish recipes using Arla products. It was a truly inspiring week, surrounded by fantastic people from all over the business, giving us a true appreciation of how Arla works from farm (literally, we got to milk a cow!) to fork (and of course there were lots of opportunities to try all of Arla’s products).

From there, we were equipped with our Arla umbrellas, pens and other merchandise as well as the skills to take on Arla’s business challenges at our respective sites. My site is unusual in that we don’t make cheese, milk, butter or any other dairy products but package over 600 products to be distributed across the UK and Europe. It is incredibly fast paced, and has a fantastic central team at its helm to manage the demands of UK retailers. We can package up to 90,000 tons of cheese as grated, sliced or blocks.

My first few weeks were spent visiting the creameries and packaging suppliers that feed into the site, to get a better understanding of the supply chain involved with packaging cheese. I also went to Arla’s head office in Leeds to meet some of the stakeholders involved in my project, as well as visited Stourton dairy to experience the contrast of a milk site to a cheese site. I spent time in each of the departments; PTD (Production, Technology & Development), QEHS (Quality, Environment, Health & Safety) and Engineering and considerable time on the shop floor getting to know how the lines run. I’ve even booked in for a few night shifts to fully understand how a factory runs 24/7. Throughout this I’ve gained a more comprehensive understanding of Arla’s supply chain, and got a round view of how my project fits into the business needs and Arla’s 2020 Strategic Growth plan.

                                          The Owestry Site 

The project I’m working on is called ‘Project Zero’ and is centred around reducing the number of mould complaints received from our British retail customers. I am very excited about this project as it dips into my background of having a biology degree! The project requires cooperation from lots of different aspects of Arla’s business, so I’m working with people from head office, the three creameries that feed into Oswestry; Taw Valley, Lockerbie and Llandyrnog as well as our packaging and machine suppliers. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with such a variety of people, and the value of the project to the business is clear from both a quality- and customer-centric point of view. Now that my induction weeks are almost over, I will be travelling between different sites to assist with implementing the project goals while also developing my Lean skills, my data analytics competencies and learning about change management. I can’t wait to relish the challenge!

Olivia Robson


Name: Olivia Robson

Position: Production Management Graduate

Period: 2017

Location: Owestry, UK

Department: Supply Chain, CBP