Graduates blog

Starting in Arla as a PMG – how has it been?

Introduction Week, Development & Moving abroad. Our 2020 PM Graduates Laura, Mathilde and Sam reflected on their first months in the business and shared their experience on how the start of their Arla journey has been so far, and on the daily business of a PMG.

Sam Vickers, 1st Rotation at Aylesbury Dairy

The introduction week was an incredibly exciting and welcomed experience, it provided the great opportunity to explore Aarhus and see the global head office. Additionally, the week provided the perfect opportunity to meet the other graduates who were just as eager to start their ‘Arla journey’. Throughout the week, we learned all about the Arla culture and questioned ourselves and motivations with extremely interesting activities such as Hogan leadership assessments. Furthermore, we had the great pleasure of meeting with key functions within Arla and understanding the current Arla strategies and future direction within the dairy supply chain. Overall, it was a fantastic week and provided a large amount of motivation for me to make value added change in the company going forward.

Laura Lukos, 1st Rotation at Stourton Dairy

The programme provides plenty of opportunities to develop yourself – from having a senior VP as a mentor, to insightful training weeks and a great community of graduates to learn from. I have all the tools to develop my key areas or learn something new! Since starting, I’ve learnt how to use Power BI, AutoCAD and I’ve even had to improve my understanding of VBA.

But it’s not just the programme that promotes learning! Within Arla there are a variety of opportunities to learn – such as the annual learning week where you can learn about the wonderful world of finance or the trends in the dairy market, or inspirational webcast series like “The Secrets of Success” with a variety of inspirational speakers, such as the astronaut Steven Smith.


Mathilde Auvray, 1st Rotation at Oswestry Packing site

Moving abroad can be taken as well as a challenge as well as an opportunity as challenge and opportunity are not opposite, it’s going together from my point of view.

What you always need to remind is to keep open minded to all the thing and behaviour you are going to discover, and learn from all your stakeholders in your work and personal life as there is always some learnings to take. Then, in your work this is how you could have a positive impact by adding your own knowledge to your learnings and take the best from the two way of working and cultures habits.

When you move abroad, in terms of your personal life a lot of changes are going to occur and you will probably have to face unexpected situation such as quarantine with the covid for example. Shared house and having house mate is one of the easiest way to meet people when you move to a foreign country and it is very good particularly in covid situation where it is quite hard to meet people outside your house.

Moving abroad will definitely help you to grow and make you more adaptable and flexible. It is also very exciting to discover new things and customs, coming from France for example starting an after work at 3.30pm on Friday is not common but I quite enjoy it. On the other hand, I also found that days end quite early in England but we don’t have a lunch break as long as in France, less time to socialise with your colleagues at lunch but more time for your personal life after work. The most important is to find the right balance for yourself.

A PMG's daily business

Mathilde Auvray

Currently, I’m working on Operator Asset Care programme. It needs to be rolled-out to all relevant operatives with consistency and competencies captured for the system to be successful and drive the Total Productive Maintenance Programme. The current engineers are spending too much time each day fixing problems and breakdowns that could be corrected by operatives if they had the skills. It will improve reliability, increase planned maintenance and allow more time to focus on continuous improvement. This project allows me to improve my technical skills but also my leadership skills with people management, manning by interacting with many different stakeholders from site directors, VP to operators, through the different department such as safety, production, maintenance and planning.

Sam Vickers

I am currently in Aylesbury for my first rotation, it is the second largest milk processing site in Europe and the most automated within the UK. The first thing that shocked me on site was the scale at which the site operates and the impressive automated guided vehicles carting the milk around. At this point my appreciation of how a bottle of milk arrives at a supermarket grew and I was excited to make an impact within the supply chain. The first rotation provides a great welcome into the dairy world and allows great connections to be made. I found there is a lot to learn in the first couple of months but everyone on site is extremely welcoming and helpful which assisted the learning process dramatically. Currently, my work load can be split into two main streams. Firstly, working on implementing a new data driven platform called statistical process control and understanding the data flow from within the process department. The objective of this project is to provide a better utilization of data which in turn enables improved process monitoring and visibility of improvement opportunities. To date this has given me the opportunity to network with very talented colleagues and has exposed myself to unfamiliar competencies and work such as understanding data flow through databases and querying data. My second workstream consists of carrying out a cost saving opportunity within the process department. As a graduate chemical engineer, this project was really exciting as it allowed me to get into detail of the process and really try to understand what’s going on and what can we do to optimize the process. As part of this, I followed the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) approach, which led to the objective of reducing the cream ageing tank’s CIP (cleaning in place) times and consequently minimizing the total cost per cream ageing tank CIP.

Laura Lukos

I’ve been really lucky with the projects that I’ve been involved in since starting my first rotation at Stourton. I’ve had the opportunity to work with different UK sites to support automation which challenged my understanding of automation, I’ve implemented reporting tools for Process Engineering where I’ve had to learn using new software and understand how to tell a story with data. But the most interesting project that I’m working on is managing a project to upgrade the intake area at Stourton, where I’m collaborating with logistics to implement optimal solutions for the drivers and technicians.

Mathilde Auvray

PMG Graduate 2020

Location: Oswestry Dairy, UK

Department: Production/Maintenance/PTD

Sam Vickers

PMG Graduate 2020

Location: Aylesbury Dairy, UK

Department: Process department

Laura Lukos

PMG Graduate 2020

Location: Stourton Dairy, UK

Department: Engineering department