My three years as Production Trainee – Sebastian Helmfrid

As a recent graduate, Sebastian was quickly given responsibility for major projects in his role as Production Trainee at Orkla Foods Norway. Read about his three years as a trainee her.

One morning in mid-August, I found myself in Sunnmøre, staring out over the fjord and mountains. The day before, I had left Linköping, Sweden, where I had both studied and grown up, so you could say that it was a major change in environment. Although I wondered what I was venturing into, I had great expectations of my first days at the Grandiosa factory at Stranda.

Fifteen months later, when I moved from Stranda to continue my career in Orkla Foods Norway, I took away with me a great deal of new knowledge about production and project management. From my very first day at the factory, I was given lots of responsibility, but also a lot of good support from experienced colleagues.

Adjusting from school to real life

My first big project threw me straight into real life as project manager, as I was given responsibility for planning a new cold storage plant at the factory. The first step of the process was to obtain the internal approval of the company management, which required submitting analyses, cost estimates and building plans. My work ranged from carrying out desktop analyses to discussing drawings with the construction company. All in all, it was a very educational project. Even though the transition from theoretical project management at school to running a real project was a major change, all went well, particularly thanks to great colleagues who could help me every time I got stuck. The project later entered the next stage, and now, after a long period of construction, the warehouse at Stranda will soon be completed. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of my first project.

Many tough challenges

As trainee at Orkla Foods Norway, you’re given an opportunity to try your hand at many different supply chain roles. As a rule, you spend the first year in a factory and then join a central project team in Year 2. This suited me perfectly, as it gave me a chance to apply my new knowledge to other factories, while continuing my learning process and acquiring more experience.
After my period at Stranda, I moved south to Fredrikstad to run a project at our factory at Råbekken. Here I took part in a redesign project, in which you review everything from line efficiency to meeting structure. In the beginning it wasn’t exactly easy to see where to begin, but thanks to a good, experienced project manager in the team, we immediately got going on the improvement process. Although there were many tough periods in the course of this project, we emerged at the other end with good results and having learned a great deal. That year gave me a chance to apply the experience I had gained while working at Stranda, as well as the theoretical knowledge that I had acquired through the courses run by Orkla.

Possibility of following a project from start to finish

Even though you leave school with lots of knowledge, it’s the experience you acquire in working life that develops and prepares you for the future. My time as trainee at Orkla Foods Norway taught me good and valuable lessons from the very first to the very last day of the trainee period. Whereas in many other short-term trainee positions, you only see parts of a project before it’s time to move on to the next stage, as trainee in Orkla Foods Norway you have the opportunity to follow a project from start to finish. For me, the possibility of seeing the result of the actions you take along the way and how they affect the work was very rewarding.

During my time as trainee, I’ve been able to benefit from a wide range of experiences, all of which have helped me tackle subsequent challenges. One day you could be discussing a solution for improving a production line with the operators, and the next you’re holding a big presentation for the managing director. The sum effect of these experiences has given me a stable footing for future work situations.

A safe and educational start to my career

The reason I chose Orkla as my first employer is that I felt it offered ample potential for development from the very first day. I had heard a lot of positive things about the trainee position before I applied and knew that it would give me good possibilities within the company. Orkla works in a challenging industry where improvement and innovation are key concepts, which were exactly what I wanted to work with. After four years in the Group, I still feel that it was a good choice!
After my period as trainee, I joined the Procurement Department at the head office in Oslo. Due to my experience from my time as trainee, I have felt secure in my work and well prepared to deal with the day-to-day challenges that arise.