Graduates Blog

Why choose the F15 Programme over others?

I'm Bob den Hartog writing from my 1st rotation in Dubai at our regional Arla Middle East & Africa office! This time I’ll hopefully be giving you a good overview of why I chose the F15® graduate programme over other graduate programmes – as many of you are sure to have this dilemma.

Published: January 4, 2016 by Bob den Hartog 

When I was applying for a graduate programme after my studies I applied for many companies – you are probably doing that today too. I knew I wanted to do a graduate programme for the learning, but for me industry was less important. Fortunately, this left me with a choice of offers; which I assume most of those offered an F15® position will have. For those of you in this position, I hope to help you make the best decision for yourself by outlining why I chose the F15® programme:

I. How Arla views F15s

Having been an intern before I knew I did not want to be a ‘trainee’ at a company as many people tend to interpret interns as being there predominantly to learn. I wanted to deliver, and that meant finding a company that saw its graduates as high-potentials assigning them high responsibility projects. When I had my first exposure to Arla Foods at career fairs and again at the Assessment Center it was clear that at Arla Foods a lot is expected of you and you are there to deliver just as much as you are there to learn. I loved this; an environment where you are expected to consistently over-deliver and improve at an exponential pace! If this is also something you crave then look no further; luckily this mentality is quite easy to see when you meet companies. Once joining the company one can really see this extends beyond the application to the role (as outlined in my last post) in terms of the deliverables. But more than that it’s also awesome to see that most of our colleagues know of ‘the F15s’ and view us as valued team-members generating results.

II. Gaining cross-functional experience

As you may already know, the F15® Programme is a 2 year programme with three 8 months’ rotations in different departments. Having three different functions for quite an extensive time means you really get into the roles. ‘Graduating’ from the F15® Programme could mean you have worked in brand management, M&A and in finance; a truly 360º toolbox of skills vital to becoming the managers you hope to become in the future! At the same time, many of us including myself feel that our Master’s degrees flew by. When you get the opportunity to join a high-pressure programme such as the F15® Programme I believe you should make sure you have a programme that is the right duration for you. For me, I really desired one that was 2 years (unlike most graduate programmes that are 1 year) as it would allow me to learn and deliver for a longer period as well as build relationships with my peers, colleagues and host managers.

III. A truly international programme

I admit, this header is cheesy; what graduate programme does not say it is an ‘international programme’? However the difference here is that ‘International’ for us means truly global and not just Europe. You can find yourself in a rotation in Malaysia, USA, Oman or Bangladesh which is something really exciting. Maria & Sarah, who run the programme, really try to align your preferences and development ambitions with Arla’s business need when assigning rotations. They really understand that the world is globalizing and with our growth agenda focused around 6 regional powerhouses we do need to send some F15s abroad. Further, it’s key to note that when looking at past F15s it may seem that the three rotations were centered on the Nordics (something I noticed) but this is changing and has already changed. Our current 2nd year F15s will be going to many new counties in their last rotations with only a few in Scandinavia. This is to help develop a global mindsets and to drive regional growth!

IV. The bonuses

Moreover, it is important to consider the extra elements of a graduate programme. For the F15® Programme this includes the 3 trainings in different locations that build different skills and the mentor that helps guide your career development during and after the programme. On top of that working in a cooperative does make me feel even better about my job as ultimately we are working to benefit our owners, the farmers themselves! Lastly, one of the best things about the F15® Programme is in the name itself; fifteen. Throughout the next two years you will be immersed in numerous challenges, achievements and setbacks but you will do all this together with fourteen other highly-driven and fun individuals. In the F15® Programme it often feels as though you still have a ‘class’ of friends that are also colleagues to learn from. 15 are large enough to be a group but small enough to forge some close friendships too.

Best of luck with the applications, Bob den Hartog F15® Graduate 2015 Project Manager – Business Development Arla Middle East & Africa FZE

Bob den Hartog

Position: F15® 2015 Team 
Period: 2015
Location: United Arab Emirates/Denmark/China
Department: 1st Rotation: Project Manager (Business Development), Arla Foods Middle East & Africa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.2nd Rotation: Strategy Project, Corporate Strategy Execution Office, Aarhus, Denmark. 3rd Rotation: Sales, China