Graduates Blog

My MENA Journey from the desert of Dubai to the mountains in Beirut

I am Yara Hasan, and I am a business graduate from Egypt with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the American University in Cairo. As soon as I graduated, I started working in a research agency, which was great, but somehow I could not envision myself in that role in the near future. This was when I came across the MENA graduate program on the career portal of my university. The moment I read through it, I was convinced that this was the ideal opportunity for me. A rotational program where I could gain first-hand experience working in different divisions on new and exciting projects. Moreover, I could discover my areas of interest and expertise through practical experience.

During my first rotation, I had the privilege of being placed in the regional office located in Dubai. I was placed in a category management function where I had the opportunity to work on several crucial projects. Some of which were the development of 2017 campaigns, formulation of new market strategies as well as planning and execution of 2018 kick off events. The experience exceeded my expectations in every regard. Not only did my learning curve show exponential growth, but my self-confidence also grew by leaps and bounds. The diverse skills I developed through working on these projects instilled an invaluable sense of ownership and responsibility in me which has benefitted me both personally and professionally. Finally, I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to explore Dubai in all its pride and glory, thus satiating my desire to travel.

After such an exhilarating start to my journey, I was ready to embark on the next rotation. This time I was seated in Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanon has a dynamic and stimulating market, which was relatively different from the previous regions I had been working in. In addition to that, Beirut is a beautiful city. This rotation allowed me to experience things on the execution side of operations which was the perfect succession to my earlier rotation where I had been involved in planning functions. It was rather interesting to observe the difference in mindsets when tackling the execution and implementation of a plan as compared to the planning stage. I was able to learn about the meticulous details and factors which need to be considered when implementing any chosen strategy. Once again, the beauty of the city and its culture further enriched my experience.

My current role in Arla Kallassi is even more fascinating and challenging as I have new challenges to conquer and opportunities to explore. In fact, at the moment, I am working on two diverse projects. The first is the relaunch of the fresh range under the Puck brand whereas the second one is in continuation of my Lebanon project regarding Foodservice. It is these exciting projects and family-like work environment which makes my experience at Arla so unique. Not to forget the magnificent scenery, delicious food and revitalising adventures which decorate the city of Beirut.

Apart from the projects and the beautiful locations, what really makes Arla unique is the remarkable office culture and environment that has made it so easy for a foreigner like me to settle in. The fact that there is always a helpful colleague or well-wishing mentor to turn to is what makes working at Arla so special. It’s these ongoing conversations with colleagues who also became close friends, stimulating discussions with managers and continuous training sessions which make the experience worthwhile. Recently all graduates took the trip to our headquarters in Denmark to attend a leadership training.

This experience was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career here at Arla – we had inspiring learning sessions, and went to see a dairy site and also a farm.

The journey as a graduate has its fair share of challenges and responsibilities, but it is the excellent learning and development one undergoes in the process which makes this journey worthwhile. After 13 exhilarating months as a MENA graduate trainee, I genuinely feel that this program is the perfect way to prepare oneself to be a future leader at Arla.



Name: Yara Hassan
 MENA Graduate
Period: 2016
Location: Lebanon
Department: Marketing