Graduates blog

My journey as a Production Management Graduate

Robert Harrison


Name: Robert Harrison

Position: Production Management Graduate

Location: Oakthorpe Dairy, UK

Period: 2019

Robert Harrison

Having grown up on an dairy farm, Arla has always been a large part of my life.

Robert Harrison: Production Management Graduate

Having grown up on an dairy farm, Arla has always been a large part of my life. I knew that after finishing my Chemical Engineering degree, I didn’t want to go into farming but I knew that my interests and the skills from my degree would be well placed in the FMCG industry. Given my background, Arla was an obvious choice.

The first thing that stuck me about the company was the assessment process, I applied for about 40 graduate schemes in total and I think the video interview for Arla was the most pleasant of any that I did; the pre-recorded video questions felt personal and gave you a chance to show yourself in your best light (we all know how awkward video interviews are!). The same was true of the assessment day (in Denmark!) where all the people I met were very friendly and immediately made you feel valued. The interviews were with 2 senior members of the Supply Chain Leadership team and it felt extremely genuine, like they really wanted to get to know you, rather than trying to catch you out. It was a very different experience to the normal vying that one experiences at assessment days and honestly this nurturing spirit has not evaporated now that I have been here for 4 months. We even got to go on a site visit as part of the assessment day too, which was a great bonus!

I am now based at Oakthorpe Dairy in London which is a milk and cream site. It’s a pretty cool feeling when I see products coming from site in the shops and knowing that in some small way you have helped it get there! For my first rotation I have been working on a few different projects and I have been given a lot of personal ownership over them; I am responsible for implementing a new data gathering system across site to give us more access to our data, as well as taking a smaller roll on a project looking at identifying and mitigating waste across the site. I have had the opportunity to travel to different sites in the UK and Denmark, which has given me real insight into new methods of doing things and adding value back at Oakthorpe. My projects have involved a lot of interaction with people from other sites allowing me build networks with many people across different sites/countries which hopefully means I will have many options when it comes to offboarding.

I have recently found out that I am moving to Pronsfeld in Germany for my second rotation which is a very exciting prospect as it is roughly 4 times the size of Oakthorpe so I look forward to finding out what I will be doing there. After 6 months in Pronsfeld, I am heading back to Oakthorpe for a year in a leadership position. As a graduate at Arla, you are really seen as an asset, you are given a lot of responsibility from day one but also the support structures to be able to adapt quickly to your new role. There are huge opportunities to work in many places and across different functions meaning that you are never pigeonholed into a position.