"Smurfit Kappa has an extremely positive knowledge sharing culture, and for a graduate this is an ideal culture for career progression and development."
How did you Join Smurfit Kappa?
Smurfit Kappa is one of the leading corrugated packaging manufacturers in the UK. I attended a graduate fair in Manchester in June 2008, where I saw the bold corporate colours of Smurfit Kappa and wanted to find out more about what they did. After speaking to Smurfit Kappa’s UK Graduate Development Officer, I realized there was an opportunity for my development to become an integral team member for a company that leads its market. The business gives graduates a great opportunity to understand and develop within the core roles and competencies throughout the scheme. The opportunity to move around the country every 6 months attracted me, to live in cities where I may never of visited. As a graduate, if I could prove my abilities then the plan was a fast-track into middle management. I’m not sure if there are many graduate vacancies around that offer this kind of development opportunity?
What's it like Working at Smurfit Kappa?
As a graduate it’s similar to being a project manager. Graduates are given projects and responsibility, and can directly impact on the business success. There is a mentor who can help coach you in management, however it is the graduate who has freedom to manage their own project and success.
I was involved in a production based project in our Manchester plant during my graduate scheme. I would manage people that not only work on the machine but also liaise with other departments to help reach our objectives. The hours were roughly 8am-4:30pm, however other placements involved more unsociable hours of work, which I thought gave me a good understanding of how all shift patterns operate. I gained technical, sales, capacity planning, production, and purchasing experience through my projects and placements.
My first days in Smurfit Kappa were extremely welcoming. On my first day I sat with the director of the Norwich plant who talked me through my project brief, and then introduced me to every office staff member. The Health and Safety Manager educated me through safety induction training and culture. I spent two weeks with all departments, including production who explained their roles, and I was made to feel very welcome to ask any questions throughout my placement, which I took up with all departments.
Highlights at Smurfit Kappa
The most rewarding moments for me is seeing the huge affect that graduates can make on the business, at the same time as learning and developing. I could see the direct effect of my work to costs/profits and improved levels of motivation through new systems and procedures. The proudest moment I have experienced in Smurfit Kappa is being offered a middle management position within the company. I had achieved what I had set out to do – be a Smurfit Kappa Middle Manager by September 2010.
Enjoying my work at Smurfit Kappa
I enjoy being responsible for an integral department within the Smurfit Kappa Windrush department. I make day to day decisions to ensure that, vehicles reach the customer in time, that the operation is safe and that fleet of vehicles run at optimum cost efficiency.
My ambition is to work my way up through Smurfit Kappa management hierarchy, up to senior level and to continue to personally develop. Although I have finished the graduate scheme, there is still a development structure to help me reach my personal and professional goals.
To ensure I maintain the continuous improvement of my current department I think it is important to communicate, lead by example and use the expertise throughout the business. When trying to develop new systems of working the key question isn’t why, but why not. I am determined to succeed and believe that there is always room for improvement.
Job Seekers/ Applicants
I believe that this graduate scheme offers graduates the potential to join any business discipline, so it could appeal to operations enthusiasts, sales and marketing backgrounds, designers and engineers. There is opportunity for all graduates from all backgrounds, who wish to put their skills into practice
I strongly recommend the Smurfit Kappa graduate program. If offered the opportunity graduates should demonstrate within the specified period that a project that you have lead has a positive impact on the business as well as developing oneself. I would like to think that I have left a legacy at each site I have been and my projects have not only continued after I have moved on, but also triggered ideas for further improvement.