Graduate Management Trainee
From day one Smurfit Kappa has supported me in my management development- from providing day-to-day training to seconding me to Spain to gain a broader understanding of the company.
Why Smurfit Kappa?
Coming out of University I had no idea which function I wanted to specialise in so I was looking for a graduate programme which offered the option to work in a number of different areas. A lot of graduate schemes confine you to the sales/marketing/operations route but Smurfit Kappa was one of the few which generally offered the opportunity to work across a number of different functions.
The other draw-card to the graduate programme is the potential for extremely rapid career progression. Generally graduates will gravitate into a middle-management position following the scheme and previous graduates have gone on to run their own sites within 5 years.
Tell us, what is a typical day like in Smurfit Kappa?
As clichéd as it is, there is no ‘typical’ day.
In my sales placement I was given responsibility for the day-to-day management of a few accounts. This involved going out to meet customers as well as regularly liaising with internal departments to resolve customer issues. Smurfit Kappa were keen for me to learn as much as possible about the business and its customers, so at least once a week I was out of the office visiting customers with account managers, seeing other Smurfit Kappa sites or at training courses.
Tell us about your first days at Smurfit Kappa.
Knowing nothing about the corrugated market before I started, Smurfit Kappa eased me into the company with a 2 week induction at the Northampton site. I spent half a day with every department which not only allowed me to get to know what each department did, but also to get to know my colleagues. There was a lot of new information to take in, but having met everyone in that first fortnight meant that it was always easy to approach someone whenever I had any questions. Everyone was, and still is, genuinely happy to help whenever I have an issue and this supportive culture made it very easy to make the transition from studying to working life.
What have been the most rewarding moments at Smurfit Kappa?
As a new employee, being able to make suggestions and have them taken seriously by managers in the business is always rewarding. Even if your ideas don’t always materialise you are always encouraged to give your perspective and seeing them develop into new practices within the business is great!
I set up a system for the shop floor to communicate more efficiently with the offices at the beginning of the year. Whilst operatives were initially sceptical, it is now used a number of times daily and whenever I go down there I get really positive feedback from the crews which is always very rewarding.
What is your proudest moment at Smurfit Kappa?
My proudest moment was the successful implementation of a trial with a new, very large FMCG customer. Despite only having been with the company a short time, Smurfit Kappa gave me the responsibility of looking after the account day-to-day.
What do you enjoy most about your job at Smurfit Kappa?
I enjoy the fact that I am able to work on projects which have a genuine and sometimes significant impact on the bottom line of the business. No matter which function you are working in, there will always be a high profile project to work on which you present bi-annually to the UK board of directors. You always have the autonomy to decide on the best way to fulfill your project brief and are accountable for the results, which is hugely motivational.
My future with Smurfit Kappa…..
….is a blank canvas!! There are so many opportunities within the UK and indeed the group. You get a very good understanding of what each function involves during the graduate scheme which will allow you to make an informed decision of what you want to do on completing the programme.
I hope to be running one of the smaller UK operations in a senior management role within 5 years, which is a very realistic and achievable goal. I just have to prove that I have the ability and motivation to succeed in such a role.
What competencies do you think are key to succeed in your current role?
Based on my experience at Smurfit Kappa, I think the two most critical competencies are good communication skills and high levels of motivation.
What advice would you give someone considering joining Smurfit Kappa?
First of all, do a bit of research on the company so that you can get a feel for our size and scope- we’re a growing business with a €6.5bn+ turnover and facilities in 30 countries. I’d also suggest going to a careers fair to meet with Smurfit Kappa representatives- it will give you the opportunity to get a better feel for the company and the chance to ask questions. If you do decide that Smurfit Kappa is a good fit for you, then good luck in your application!