Published December, 2017, by Laura Pulkkinen
Why did I choose to work at Arla?
First of all, I have always loved dairy products. Looking at my own food habits, dairy products are an essential part in most of my meals. Milk can be used in many ways to create products with unique characteristics, which is what I think makes milk so special. The second reason for choosing Arla is due to my educational background as an agronomist, and because the Production Management Graduate Programme gives me a unique opportunity to work with the value chain – from cow to consumer. Having a close connection to our farmer owners is fantastic! The third reason why I chose Arla is because of the company itself: a well-known brand for many people and a company that to me only brings positive associations.
As I started the graduate programme, my first task was to get to know the basics of the value chain by visiting different departments in the dairy. I followed a milk truck on a tour to our eco-farmers located north of Stockholm where I experienced the differences between big farms and the very small ones, talked to our farmer-owners and observed the actual milking of the cows. Most importantly, I got to follow a milk driver and experienced how a typical day could look like.
At the dairy, I learned how we receive the milk and how it is handled by our process department, and was also introduced to the different machines such as pasteurizers, separators and homogenizers; and how they are used to produce our various kinds of products. I have been practicing in the lab to get an understanding and deeper knowledge of what affects the quality and safety of our products, and also followed our products from packaging to the warehouse where they are stored and distributed to our customers. My most important learning so far has been to understand how everything fits together; the dairy is a complex matrix where everything is linked together in one way or another.
The Black Box
After my introduction at the dairy I got to lay hands on my first project at Arla, the “Black Box”. The aim of the project is to identify our losses at the dairy i.e. milk-, water- and energy waste. A crucial part of the project was getting to know people and creating a network. The time spent on trying to understand things alone is given back a hundred times when you know who to talk to. After building up a solid dairy knowledge and network, I came up with a project suggestion focusing on lowering our milk waste. The best part of my project is the fact that I get to work cross-functionally within the dairy, as my project involves all sections from Production Technology Development, process, packaging and warehouse. The greatest challenge with involving so many people is to find meeting times fitting with everyone’s schedule, however, with some juggling everything is possible.
Working at the dairy opens up many opportunities. Having the will and right mindset makes it possible to get involved in other projects. My previous background in quality and food safety has for example given me the possibility to be involved in projects related to these areas. Being able to help people while learning at the same time is a fantastic feeling. I am excited about the next coming years at Arla, and I am sure that I will contribute to the business in many ways and at the same time have the chance to develop both personally and professionally!