Can graduates make great managers? - A Case Study
I have often wondered why so many companies were keen to take on graduates into Management positions. We see companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Majestic Wine, Explore Learning and countless others look to graduates to be leaders of teams and be able to cope with managing a business, but why?
More often than not graduates are criticised for lacking in experience and interpersonal skills, but then why do companies think that they can employ graduates who will be able to hit the ground running and progress a business with a little bit of training. With this in mind, I spoke to Robert Moss, an Area Manager for Aldi in Tame Side, Manchester about the demands of a senior management role, straight out of university. Robert explained to me that while university gives you a platform, it is from within and the support from a company that graduates can become business leaders.
Tell us about your role as an Area Manager
Robert Moss: As an Area Manager, I am solely responsible for the smooth running and performance of my four stores and their teams. As our stores are becoming busier, we're taking on many additional staff so a significant proportion of my time is taken up by recruitment, and then ensuring that new staff are up-to-speed with their tasks.
There is also an ever increasing need to ensure your Store Managers are managing their teams in an effective way, so I have to work closely with them on a daily basis. I then spend time looking at the management of staff from an analytical and statistical point of view to maximise efficiencies.
Outside of managing my store, I am also the project lead on apprenticeships in the North West, ensuring that Aldi is taking on the highest calibre of apprentices in the region.
How does a university education help set a graduate up for a management position?
RM: University gave me a basic platform in terms of developing time management and organisational skills, however to be successful on the Area Management Programme, you need to possess the correct mentality which comes from within. University and being away from home does mean that you have to take complete responsibility for yourself, which is a key trait on the scheme.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started on the Aldi Area Manager scheme?
RM: When you join Aldi, your training starts in-store, becoming used to how an Aldi store operates. However it was when I first took responsibility for my area after a few months with the company which represented the greatest challenge, as your store teams look to you for direction.
There are also constant challenges in the role, such as the pace and accuracy of work, the recruitment needs, and coaching and supporting your Store Managers.
Aldi want to see 'Born Leaders' and graduates who 'thrive in demanding and fast paced environments', how would you recommend graduates prove this?
RM: Graduates should provide examples of relevant work experience or extra-curricular activities where they have been adventurous or gone the extra mile in pursuit of a goal. These could have been achieved during university, in the workplace or as part of your outside interests.
How do you deal with the responsibility of management and area management?
RM: It certainly helps that I enjoy the responsibility and challenges of motivating and managing large store teams.
I feel privileged to have 140 people in my area and to be able to create a positive and supportive environment, providing them with a clear career path within the company. I'm always available if any of my staff need to talk with me as I want them to enjoy coming to work every day.
What advice would you give a graduate considering the Aldi Area management scheme?
RM: Research the role, and go in-store and speak to staff to gain an understanding whether the role is for you. Once you've decided on working for Aldi, you then need to put everything into the application and interview process to show how much you want the job.
More broadly, what advice would you give a graduate considering a career in management?
RM: Read up on management literature and theories, and you should also consider working in a role which has responsibility before you graduate to see how it feels, and the aspects which will make you a good leader.
It seems that many of the traits that graduate managers require to be successful are there, it is just a case of the employer nurturing those traits of confidence, decision making and people skills. It is also the case that a Management career is only suitable to certain types of graduate, but if you have the right amount of drive, ambition and determination many graduates can succeed in these positions.
Image credit: Lukas Budimaier