As one of two foreigners among the trainees, I want to outline how it has been to move abroad for a graduate program.
I was never in doubt whether I would move abroad if the right opportunity appeared, so after getting to know the business, values and vision of Lantmännen, the decision to move here was easy. During my studies I got increasingly interested in sustainability and agricultural development, which align with the sustainable grain value cycle at Lantmännen that focus on sustainable agriculture, green energy, responsible packaging, decreasing climate impact etc.. As a trainee we get to work with such topics, in the first period Johanna worked with a cultivation concept concerning sustainable farming that targeted reduced greenhouse gas emissions, Anton with stakeholder interest in more climate friendly commodities, and now I am doing research on sustainable packaging solutions at Aspen (a company and project that I will present in my next blogpost).
Shared values are one aspect, another one is the ability to cope with a foreign working culture. A Dane in Sweden might not seem as the biggest cultural leap, but there are of course some differences. The Swedish working culture come across as thorough and thought through in my point of view, whereas I as a Dane sometimes is very decisive and result-oriented. Too much of both abilities can turn to a weakness, but I believe that a combination creates a situation where we utilise the strenghts of each other and become better. Additionally, something that I appreciate here is the fika culture. I believe it is a good way to socialise with your colleagues, and a way to create a healthy and constructive working culture. Although Swedes eat more cake than I could ever imagine 😉
On a personal level the settling in Sweden was rather uncomplicated. As it is my fourth time living abroad, I consider myself kind of an expert in the field, and this has been way easier than dealing with German bureaucracy or South African visa requirements. I socialise a lot here with colleagues, and besides from that I do sports, which gets me friends outside of work. I see team/group activities like sports, book clubs, dance, cooking, you name it, as a great opportunity to get out and meet new people when you move abroad. Also, when you live in Sweden you get a unique opportunity to get out and enjoy some real nature – it is beautiful here!
The graduate program in itself offers an incredible transition from student to professional, as we get to work in four different roles in various geographical locations all over the world. As a trainee at Lantmännen you are trusted by leaders and colleagues, which gives you the freedom to work independently and creatively. The program makes us very versatile due to the many positions, projects and locations that we have to adapt to every 3-4 months. It also enhances our language skills, both the various Scandinavian languages, but also English, German, French etc., as we are travelling around and meeting all kinds of nationalities and cultures. Finally, I want to highlight the organisational understanding that comes with the program. Lantmännen ensures that we are aware of the entire supply chain by showing us plants, productions, farms and shops. So far we have seen several production plants like a pancake factory, multiple grain process plants, mills, energy plants, bakeries and many more.
That was my thoughts about moving, and as you probably recognise, I am enjoying life here in “quite alright Sweden” 🙂