“In my job, I’m working on something that affects me indirectly too”

Sabine works as an IT Project Manager at ALDI SOUTH and is part of the Project Management Office team. In this interview, she talks about her everyday work life and reveals how, in her job, she works on something that indirectly benefits her personally as an end customer.

Before you take us through a day in your job, could you introduce yourself briefly and tell us how long you’ve been at ALDI SOUTH IT?

Sabine: Hi, I’m Sabine and I started working as an IT Project Manager in the “Buying Management Office” at ALDI SOUTH in March last year. In this area, we are active across all departments and teams in the Buying Pillar – a competence centre, so to speak, for operational topics related to projects and services. Our department’s goal is to professionalise project methodologies, processes and tools. To do this, we are split into four teams:

  1. The Project Management Office (PMO), which is actively involved in the project business. This is where I work.
  2. The Cross Service Office (CSO), with experts on all aspects of IT service management frameworks. The team supports and standardises all IT service management processes.
  3. The Core Management Office (CMO), which focuses on risk management, contract and vendor management, and finance and resource management.
  4. And the Strategy & Agile Operations team, which takes care of the topics of internal marketing and proactive communication concepts.

As part of the PMO, I am involved in a wide variety of projects within Buying and support their implementation.

What does a typical work day look like for you as an IT Project Manager – if there is a typical day at all?

Sabine: When it comes to project work, a typical work day is hard to define. Of course, the project phases always come around again, but the content can vary greatly. There are tasks that are repeated, but the days are very different and varied.

Currently, for example, I am preparing steering committees together with my PMO team. In these meetings, we meet with the leadership staff and top management at regular intervals and inform them about the progress of the project or obtain decisions if necessary. Of course, the preparation and follow-up of meetings like this is very important. At the same time, there are lots of other topics on our agenda, such as project cost controlling, coordination with the Communication & Change department, tracking project progress, resource planning and much more.

What would you say makes your role as an IT Project Manager special?

Sabine: It’s definitely the variation in the job. I have my portfolio of methods, guidelines and templates that help me structure projects and remember everything. But depending on the project phase, what I use from this portfolio can be totally different – it never gets boring.The fact that we always work with new stakeholders and have new challenges means that I’m always learning and can benefit from the experience gained through interaction with other project managers.

What do you want to achieve at ALDI SOUTH? What drives you, what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Sabine: The universal goal is, of course, to make ALDI SOUTH even better. As a Project Manager in the Buying Management Office, I know that the end customers don’t necessarily know what I’m actually working on. But with new systems, for example, we improve the day-to-day work for our colleagues in Buying, who in turn serve the end customers – so it does come full circle in the end. In my last project, for example, we rolled out a new system for Buying Managers/Directors. Various steps in the process are now integrated into the system and are therefore automated. During the rollout, where I had the opportunity to actually work on-site in the USA, Great Britain and Ireland, among other places, we were told that the new system makes a big impact on everyday work. That’s great to hear, of course.

The nice thing is that I always come into contact with the end product in my private life and can identify with it because I also shop at ALDI SOUTH. So in my job, I’m working on something that affects me indirectly as an end customer in the stores of ALDI SOUTH.

Can you tell us about a specific project you’re working on right now?

Sabine: The project I’m working on right now is a big transformation project with a global focus. We further develop existing systems in the buying process and work in a hybrid way, which means we combine the classic waterfall approach with agile methodologies. In this current implementation phase, we’re following an agile work approach. This means that in the project, we have agile teams that work on defined topics in three-week sprints, improve them and report to the key stakeholders on the developments. The topics that are worked on in the sprints are defined jointly by the teams in planning sessions. After the three weeks, review meetings are held to present the results. This means we are much more transparent with regard to the developments and get feedback much faster as to whether the developments are also going in the desired direction.

What would you say makes ALDI SOUTH IT unique as an employer? Try and tell us in just five words.

Sabine: Willingness to change, challenging, global setup/internationality (not only in teams but also in projects), good working atmosphere.

What challenges do you face as part of your everyday work, and how do you go about overcoming them – either alone or together with your team?

Sabine: In the project business, time is always a decisive but also challenging factor. There are often last-minute requests. But this can be solved with a good team, by distributing tasks, prioritising them and communicating transparently that other topics will sometimes have to be pushed back.

What’s more, communication in a global context is also a challenge, as we need to ensure that all countries have the same level of knowledge at the same time, and that isn’t always easy when you’re working in different time zones. But we have to find a way to keep everyone in the loop – because if we don’t, it will have a negative impact on the project. It usually helps to set up a communication team and a communication plan, and to share lessons learned so that we benefit from the experiences of other colleagues. But it is often the case that you just get started, get feedback, and then implement improvements.

What should anyone looking to start a career as a Project Manager at ALDI SOUTH IT bring to the table? Are there any candidates for whom ALDI SOUTH IT might not be the best fit?

Sabine: You should be motivated to be involved in a company that is going through major change, because these are challenging times with many projects in a short space of time. But what unites us all is our drive and our mentality: we’re all up for the challenge.

If you don’t have much patience, then ALDI SOUTH isn’t the place for you. Some things just take a little longer here, because there are decision-making stages. Now, that doesn’t mean that nothing ever gets done here, quite the opposite: a lot is happening, sometimes it just doesn’t happen as quickly as in a start-up.

What do you associate with “Reprogram retail”?

Sabine: With “Reprogram”, I associate the opportunity to change something. I don’t just go about my day-to-day work, my work has real impact. For me, “retail” means the opportunity for my work to have a genuine impact on helping us to improve as a retailer – also compared with our competitors. Here at ALDI SOUTH, we all pull together and take pride in working to shape the retail industry of the future and continue to improve the impact on the end customer.

Thanks for talking to us, Sabine!

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