Students & Graduates Blog

Reflections after 5 months in the F15 programme

After finishing my studies, I was really excited to start working for Arla. As time flies by, I am now already 5 months in the F15® programme. Therefore, I would like to share some personal reflections upon the experiences I made so far.

Published: February 8, 2017 by Christina Merz

After finishing my studies, I was really excited to start working for Arla. I was looking forward to exciting and challenging projects in an international work environment. As time flies by, I am now already 5 months in the F15® programme. Therefore, I would like to share some personal reflections upon the experiences I made so far.

One reason why I chose the F15® programme is the possibility to have 3 different rotations in terms of function and geographical area. My first rotation is within global logistics. As I do not have any previous work experience within logistics, starting there was really interesting but also challenging at the very beginning. Yet, my colleagues were very supportive and I could gain a lot of own experiences when visiting warehouses and dairies as well as experiencing the collection, processing, packaging and distribution of Arla 24 milk. So only after a short while I joined my colleagues in their enthusiastic talks about new trucks, good and bad examples for farms and dairies… I was surprised how fast I got excited about topics that I had never thought of in my life before!

Starting work life with a group of other recent graduates is also a special feature of the F15® programme. The other F15s really made it easy to settle in and feel comfortable in the new environment. You always have somebody to meet for lunch, a coffee or free time activities. Yet, in the beginning I was pretty much occupied with my projects. So only after some months I started to discover the other benefits of the F15® network. The network of current and former F15s makes it easy to reach out to others for information or help and gives you insights into other parts of the organization.

Furthermore, I was really keen on experiencing how working for a cooperative is influencing every day work. I was wondering whether it would be much different compared to family owned and public listed companies. So far, I can truly feel and experience the spirit of the cooperative. In my first rotation I have learned how to think out of the farmers’ perspective. This sometimes requires to think about business decisions from two angles. Firstly, the Arla business angle and secondly, the angle of the individual farmers. Yet, also in general there is a lot of communication around the farmers concerning their current situations, milk prices and other relevant issues. So, I am still positively surprised that being a cooperative really influences the way of thinking, goal setting and acting.

When starting the programme, I was also curious about the work environment and company culture. In my first rotation, I have been placed in a global team where I have been working on projects together with colleagues from Sweden, Central Europe, United Kingdom and Denmark. Yet, my immediate colleagues in Aarhus are all Danes. Therefore, I can say that besides working with people from different countries and being part of a global team, I have a local experience as well. Personally, I enjoy the Danish Arla workplace culture having an open-door policy and weekly department breakfasts. This makes it easy to connect to the colleagues and ask them for help. However, when travelling to other offices I could feel that the work environment differs from location to location depending on the local culture but also on the size of the office.

All in all, I have made numerous valuable but also challenging experiences in my rotation so far. Some aspects were slightly different from what I expected; others were rather unexpected. I have been mostly surprised by the cooperative spirit and how fast I can get excited about new topics. For the next rotation, I am curious where it will take me and which new adventures are ahead.

Yolanda Tsai

Cantonese/Taiwanese
Position: F15® 2016 Team 
Periode: 2016
Location: Poland/Germany
Department: 1st Rotation: Shared Services, Gdansk, Poland. 2nd Rotation: Sales, Düsseldorf, Germany.