Interview with Vincent van der Put – logistics trainee at Lidl 

Back in august 2018, Vincent van der Put came to Tilburg to start his (Pre-)Master in Supply Chain Management. During his student time in Tilburg, Vincent was an active member at our study association Asset | Strategy & Logistics and joined the Supply Chain Days committee. Approximately one year ago, he finished his studies in Supply Chain Management and started working at Lidl as a logistics trainee. An interview about his job orientation, current position as a trainee and future plans. 

Let’s start with your job search, how did you end up at Lidl? When did you know this was your perfect fit? Of course I knew Lidl prior to my application. During my master studies, I was looking for a company where I could do my thesis research. I started orientating and went to the Economic Business Weeks (EBT) in Tilburg, where Lidl presented itself too. During the event, students were asked to design the store of the future. I liked the case and the way the recruiters evaluated the output of the participants. They gravely took the strategy of the company into account. Afterwards, I connected with the recruiter via LinkedIn and sent him a letter of application. There was no vacancy open at the time, but I was still invited to meet the team manager of the logistical department at the head office. Afterwards, I got an internship at Lidl where I could start writing my master thesis.

Currently, I am in the last phase of my traineeship, which I started on April 1st 2020. During my internship, I was asked to apply for a traineeship at Lidl as well. I still had to go through the normal application process, which includes job interviews with HR and one with the manager and a capacity tests, which was tough but went quite smoothly. Next April my traineeship ends earlier, because a promotion to junior project manager awaits!

How would you describe your traineeship? Because of the covid-19 measures I did not fully experience the traineeship as it should be. As a trainee you’re linked to a lot of colleagues to which you can turn to for questions or advice on certain topics. Also, every three months you have two days of training with the other trainees. In total, I’m one of the 13 trainees that started in April 2020 at Lidl. Unfortunately, some of those trainings couldn’t take place and there was a lot less contact with the other trainees and colleagues. Luckily, the team mangers of my department are very involved and I got the space and opportunities to work on my own development. So, the most important feature of the traineeship to me is the freedom and flexibility to find my place in the organization and discover where my interests lie.

Vincent during his active membership at Asset | Strategy & Logistics, where he joined the Supply Chain Days committee

Can you describe some projects you are working on at the moment? In the near future, deposits for small plastic bottles will become mandatory. We are now used to the system where we pay an extra 0,25 cents for a large bottle and recover that money when we return the bottle. That system is expanded to small bottles and Lidl has to accept the bottles of other supermarkets as well. Which is a major adjustment to our reverse logistic activities. At Lidl we have chosen to ‘count and crush’ the bottles at our DC’s. I’m part of the project team that guides the installation of the right machines and adjustment to the processes. I’m also doing a small research to assess what the impact is on our processes in terms of money and efficiency.

I’ve also assisted some colleagues with the baseline measurement of the carbon footprint of our transport activities. As a result we are now constructing objectives for reduction of carbon emission and starting projects to do so. A lot of municipalities are organizing ‘zero emission zones’ where only vehicles can enter that do not emit carbon emission. This means that we are investing in electric trucks. But there is not a lot to choose from and almost all electric trucks come with less capacity, less range and charging time. This makes it challenging. Besides those projects, I work on multiple smaller projects which often include providing our DC’s with information and analysis on topics that are interesting to them.

As mentioned before, you completed the MSc Supply Chain Management. Do you think it prepared you well for your current job? Yes, I do think that my studies prepared me well. Of course, logistics is just a small part of the supply chain, but it feels great to become a specialist in this small part. Though, I still need to figure some things out myself that I did not learn in class. I recently downloaded Python to work with some larger datasets, but with minor experience it takes quite some time to get the code right.

Do you think that your future lies within Lidl? During my studies, I broadly orientated myself. I thought about ASML, direct competitors and various others. The business model and culture of Lidl strongly appeals to me, more than their direct competitors, which makes Lidl the perfect fit for me at this moment. For now my work is still very challenging and interesting, therefore I would like to stay at this department of Lidl. Although it is currently still a big question mark if and when Lidl will enter the online grocery market, I hope to contribute to this distribution model at Lidl in the future.

What would you advise current students that are soon to be graduated? I experienced that it is best to consider multiple companies and industries when you are in the orientation process. Even after writing my master thesis at Lidl, I still considered working at other companies. Ultimately, concluding that I wanted to start at Lidl. With a master degree in Supply Chain Management, it is possible to work in multiple industries, whether it is high tech, retail, or something completely different. For students, there are enough opportunities to get in touch with companies by attending company events, such as the ones of Asset. If there is a specific organization you are interested in my tip would be to contact a recruiter, or acquaintance who works there, and ask if they can get you in touch with someone who can share their experience.

Are you after reading this article interested in Lidl or its vacancies? Visit Lidl on the career portal. Vanancies for October will open on March 29th.

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