Always do what you can't

About me

Becki D.
Management
Sociology, Human Resource Management
BA (Hons) (2013-16) and MA (2016-2017)
Langwith
2018
United Kingdom

About this profile

HR Officer
Arla Foods
United Kingdom
Engineering and manufacturing / HR, recruitment and training
Large business (250+ employees)
2017

About the job

What I do

At Arla Foods, I sit within the UK's HR Operations team, as part of a wider global matrix. I am currently responsible for a range of learning and development operations in the UK Home Office, with some Supply Chain cross-over. I am joint project lead on 'Learning Week' 2018; analysing local learning needs; forming a project management team; and overseeing the process from planning stages through to execution. I am also responsible for working towards embedding a culture of contiunous learning and development within the business; where I am currently co-ordinating & delivering 'lunch and learn' workshops as part of this goal. A third main responsibility is that of owning the new 'Welcome to Arla' day-long inductions. I am part of the 'WTA Training Team'; delivering these sessions to new starters, whilst also working closely with the global team to ensure consistent operational excellence.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Organisational Skills - I have always described myself as organised, but my skills have developed in this area through studying at York (my dissertation in particular taught me to be very disciplined in time management). I've also become more organised through a training course at work based on prioritisation and productivity.

Analytical Skills - For my MA dissertation I used mixed methods. I had to upskill myself in analysing quantitative data through SPSS (which was a real challenge to begin with). I am glad that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and developed skills in this area. Through work, I have become more analytical through taking a number of training opportunities in the form of excel/data program workshops.

Communication and Networking - I have definitely developed this skill the most through starting my career. As learning and development contact for the UK, I often communicate with colleagues in different countries, and also my UK colleagues within a range of different departments. Pushing myself to network more at university is something which I think would have helped me when initally faced with this role.

What I like most

I love the communication side of my role. I would describe myself as very creative, and I really enjoy designing posters/email content/logos that advertise upcoming learning opportunities. I also like to help out other departments with these tasks where possible.

What I like least

I would probably describe my least favourite part of the role as the admin side of things. I prefer to think creatively and work on new and exciting projects. I have recently worked closely with the global HQ in order to reduce my admin responsibilities through more efficient use of existing systems.

What surprised me most

What surprised me most was my ability to jump into the deep end and survive! If someone was to tell me exactly the types of things that I would be doing in my first full-time role, I would have been full of self-doubt and avoided applying for the position. I now feel as though I can push myself and succeed, even when in doubt.

Finding and applying for the job

How I looked for work

I started looking for work in Autumn 2016. I attended the Careers Fair at university, where I actively sought out work experience in the area of HR. I began applying for numerous graduate schemes, which was difficult, and a very long process, as I got through to different stages with different companies, narrowly missing out on a final interview in Easter 2017. I then decided to wait a few months (until July/August) and begin applying for permanent roles. I then searched for large successful organisations near me, and looked for roles in HR on their websites, as well as using a range of job search sites e.g. indeed, reed etc. I came across my current role on Arla's careers page and applied for it alongside some others from different organisations. Throughout the selection process, I was lucky enough to secure my job offer for Arla, and also one for an alternative company (which was an internship). I weighed up the options and pushed myself to take my current position. I started my role one week after submitting my Master's dissertation.

How I found out about the job

Employer's website

The recruitment process

The recruitment process was probably the best and most professional that I have experienced with any company. I was first called and invited to arrange a telephone interview with the Talent Acquisition Manager. I took the phone call and was very honest about my experiences and skills. I then recieved an email with a number of psychometric tests (numerical, verbal, and personality). I completed my tests (with not much hope as I had failed a number of these types of tests when applying for graduate schemes) however, fortunately I was successful. I then received an email inviting me to a face-to-face interview. In the interview I spoke with the Talent Acquisition Manager, as well as the UK HR Director. I was well-prepared and I remember feeling very relaxed and at ease with the inteviewers (not usually like me at all!). As well as the main part of the interview, I was taken through my test results - which was really encouraging! In the second part of the interview I was faced with a task where I had to analyse a pack of information in 30 minutes, and answer 3 main questions. I then had to present my findings/insights back to a different interviewer. After this, I was called within the week and offered the position.

My career

My career goals when I graduated

I wanted to start my career in Human Resources, and expected to be successful in a HR Administration/Assistant role, due to lack of experience.

My career history

2012-2013: Waitress - Black Horse Restaurant
2014-2015: Waitress - Ed's Easy Diner
2014: YSIS (Teaching Placement) - St Mary's Primary School
2015-2017: Receptionist/Customer Relations - Hatfields Jaguar
2015: Reception/Admin Work Experience - Remploy
2016: Human Resources Work Experience - ASDA
2017: HR Officer (Current Position) - Arla Foods

What has helped my career to progress

My MA was accredited by the CIPD (Level 7). This gave me practical skills needed for a career in human resources e.g. negotiaion, interviewing, training, strategic planning, downsizing conversations etc.

Courses taken since graduation

IGD Fast Track to FMCG - This is a course which has introduced me to the industry. I have gained knoweldge about 'Fast Moving Consumer Goods' organisations and future trends to be aware of. This has helped me in designing a training plan for our upcoming learning week.

How my studies have helped my career

Theoretical and practical knowledge/skills in the area of human resources.

What surprised me about my career so far

How flexible the organisation is in terms of personal development and elements of my role which I want to develop in the most.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

I don't have a specific 5 year plan. I like to push myself to develop personally, and put aside time each week to read/reasearch/listen/watch/learn all sorts of different skills/information relevant to my industry/role/interests. I find that through doing this and pursuing areas of work which I am really passionate about, I will be in the best place in terms of my career in 5 years time.

My advice to students

My advice to students considering work

Really prepare the best you can for interviews and assessments. The opportunity is likely to only come around once and being prepared and confident is definitely crucial. I'd also say though, try to remain calm and relaxed because this will really help you through. However, if you aren't successful, try not to be too disappointed for too long! You will work things out and hopefully come across a great opportunity that you may not have ever considered otherwise. Stay confident!

My advice about working in my industry

FMCG's move at a very fast pace (as I'm sure most other industries are also doing!) It's important to think creatively and set aside time to come up with new ideas for the future and how you see your role developing. If this sort of planning isn't explicitly in your position description, then be confident and speak with your manager. You could really add some inspiration and brilliant ideas/results to your organisation if you speak up, and 9 times out of 10 you will get the support if you air your views and think about innovative new ideas.

Other advice

Ask as many questions as possible, to as many people as you can. Especially at the beginning of your career! It's so important to network with others in your organisation, even if you don't work directly with them - you're bound to be able to ask for a favour in the future if you make connections as soon as you can.

Contacting me

Please feel free to contact me - I'm happy to answer any questions.


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