(Almost) straight from her studies and into a permanent job. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience this, but that is what happened to Caroline Hurlen. She obtained her Master’s degree in global logistics in September 2021 – and two months later she started a permanent job as a category analyst at Orkla Group Procurement.
“No-one understands my title outside of the Orkla system, but I usually say that I work in purchasing. My duties are specifically related to indirect purchasing. In other words, everything that has nothing directly to do with the production of Orkla’s brands. Our work includes helping our factories to keep their operations running by entering into agreements and contracts with suppliers – and this could include anything from office supplies to laundry services. We ensure that everything is delivered in accordance with the contracts.” We also analyse spending on an ongoing basis so that we have both an overview and a good basis for any new contracts,” explains Caroline.
Name: Caroline Hurlen
Position: Category Analyst
Department: Orkla Group Procurement, Purchasing Department
Employed by Orkla since: November 2021
Caroline’s best advice for anyone wanting to work for Orkla: “Just apply! That might be a simple answer, but I think it’s actually good advice. Don’t be afraid to apply. During an interview you have the opportunity to find out everything you might want to know about a job and it’s a great opportunity for networking. You don’t lose anything by applying.”
Wanted to be involved in purchasing
“Is your education relevant to the job you do?
“Yes, I would definitely say so. Purchasing has been one of the subjects I studied in Germany and I acquired my Bachelor’s degree in international business in Australia. This basic education provided me with a good fundamental understanding of the job I am doing here. Normally you would probably need a Bachelor’s degree and preferably a Master’s degree in order to work for Orkla.” My colleagues include both economists and engineers. Logistics may not be quite so common – but it provides me with a good analytical understanding,” says Caroline.
In fact her Master’s studies were responsible for leading Caroline to Orkla. She graduated from Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, a relatively new private university – established in 2010.
“The university was established by Klaus-Michael Kühne, who believed that there were not enough global opportunities for studying logistics. Many of our lecturers had experience from the automotive sector and during our studies we were able to meet many people from the logistics industry. This provided us with a practical insight into the world of logistics and its theoretical aspects. And then the university wanted us to obtain work experience – so we had to start applying for internships. I knew I wanted to work in purchasing, so I made a huge effort to find a relevant placement. I was supposed to do my work experience in 2020, but the three internships that I was offered were cancelled because of the coronavirus. It was a bad year. Nevertheless, it gave me a head start when, during the autumn of 2020, I quickly applied for work experience openings in 2021. Orkla was one of the companies that were advertising internships early on – so it was a very straightforward process,” says Caroline.
She says that she was not particularly aware of the fact that she would be doing her work experience with Orkla, but once she entered the system she had no doubt that she would stay there:
“I had previously acquired a positive impression of Orkla and this was reinforced during the summer when I did my internship. The culture and people at Orkla are absolutely fantastic and it’s a great place to work. I have experienced openness and people are willing to share and learn together. When I did my internship my line manager leader took the time to talk to me about what I felt about my work experience and she seemed to be willing to accepting my input. This atmosphere of openness and willingness serves to illustrate a great organisation and culture that I really appreciate and I quickly realised that I wanted to stay here.”
Thanks to the network that Caroline built up during the summer, she was eventually offered a permanent position – and a few months after finishing her “summer job” she started in a junior position at Orkla’s head office in Skøyen.
I had previously acquired a positive impression of Orkla and this was reinforced during the summer when I did my internship.
Hoping to travel soon
“I was actually lucky that I started in November – because Norway was still quite open then and we could go to the office and say hello to our colleagues. There were also three of us who started working at the same time, so we did some of our training together, which was great. I was then allocated my own office buddy to help me with all the things I was unsure about – both from a practical and a professional point of view. It’s great to have something like that to reply on.”
At the moment a lot more work is being done at home, but Caroline is looking forward to when she can start doing a bit of travelling:
“Most of the people on my team work in Malmö, so normally there is quite a bit of travelling back and forth between Norway and Sweden. Obviously we haven’t been able to do much of that at the moment, but I’m hoping that I can start doing a bit of travelling soon. And I would really like to visit some of our factories in Norway during the course of 2022 so that I can get an idea of what operations are like there. Most of our factories are in Norway, Sweden and Denmark – the plan is that I will be able to visit most of them soon.”
When asked what she thinks is the most rewarding thing about Orkla, Caroline immediately says that it is the wide scope covered by the organisation:
“I have the opportunity to be involved in so many different things. No two days are the same and everything is new and informative. At the same time, Orkla’s scope is the most demanding aspect of my job. There is a lot to learn and Orkla is a large, complex organisation. But that might just be because I’m new. But I’m willing and ready to learn and I think that’s important for a junior employee.
“Is this your dream job?
“Yes, I would say so. At first I was very unsure about how they would react to newbies – would I be given any responsibilities, or would I have to make coffee for everyone all the time? Things have been very positive right from the start and the fact that Orkla aims to be a “home to grow” is indicative of a stable support system that is designed to help me develop myself into becoming who I want to be. Everything is possible here. There are many different roles and in a large group you can be given many different duties if that’s what you want. At the moment I am hesitant to think about having any big ambitions, but anything is possible, as far as I can see. My first aim is to learn my job properly. Then we’ll see what happens.”
“Have you made a lot of coffee for others?
“No, just for myself. I quickly learnt that the coffee machine is a social meeting place – so people go there themselves.”