Graduates blog

The value of having a mentor when abroad

Tine Vieland Jensen


Position: Production Management Graduate

Period: 2017

Department: Oakthorpe Dairy, United Kingdom

Tine Vieland Jensen

Hello, my name is Tine and I am a Production Management Graduate in Arla, currently doing my rotation abroad in the UK. One of the most important aspects for me in this programme is our mentorship setup which I highly benefit and learn from.

Having a rotation in another country is very exciting and interesting for sure! After spending 6 months in your primary dairy during the first rotation you get used to the way of working at that site. Somehow that way of working becomes the norm for you and it can surprise you quite a bit when some places do things another way. At least that is one of my big learnings so far on my second rotation. 

Maybe I should introduce myself: My name is Tine and I am part of this great Production Management Graduate Programme. I am from Denmark and my primary dairy is Nr. Vium, which is in the western part of Jutland. Nr. Vium is a creamery that produces cheeses like Havarti, Gammel Knas (if you haven’t tasted this Arla Unika cheese yet, then definitely try it if you get the opportunity! It is so tasty!), Castello, Esrom and Hushäll. Currently, I am abroad on my 2ndrotation which is at Oakthorpe Dairy in the UK. Oakthorpe is a milk site located right in the city of London. It is very impressive how so much milk is transported to and from the dairy every day considering the location. Apart from milk, Oakthorpe also produces different kinds of cream. My personal favourite being the extra thick cream (I really hope we will be able to buy that in the Danish supermarkets one day).

Apart from learning a lot about our delicious dairy products and the process of producing them, this graduate programme is also about project management, leadership and personal development. And, as a part of the programme I get to have a mentor from a senior position in Arla. This mentorship is a fantastic opportunity to get guidance and develop myself in relation to my strengths and weaknesses. 
We have monthly Skype meetings where we catch up on what has happened since the last conversation, then I typically have one leadership-oriented topic to discuss and then the conversation goes from there. The mentorship lasts for the two whole years of the graduate programme. This means that my mentor is there to guide me during all the rotations, which is fantastic. He has been a great support through my rotation abroad and has made me understand some of the cultural differences along with the different leadership stylesa lot better, and how to make the most of both. 

I am very inspired by the way my mentor has made his career throughout, his many years of experience. This is also because I can relate to him, as he has got a similar biotechnology/chemical process engineering background as myself. Therefore, we have had many talks on how I can create the career I want and what I need to do to get there. I see my mentor as a good sparring partner and I really like the fact that he inspires me to think differently and that he is not afraid to challenge me.  

On my next rotation, which will be in two months’ time, I am going back to my primary diary where I am taking up a co-team leading position. Therefore, I am very pleased that at that time our mentorship is still ongoing as I am sure it will be a fantastic opportunity to further develop my leadership skills when I have more hands-on experience.