Caitlin Gallagher ALDI graduate

Caitlin Gallagher

University of Notre Dame Australia
Area Manager
Caitlin studied Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Commerce at University of Notre Dame Australia

What's your job about?

As an Area Manager I am responsible for the operations of four ALDI stores. No day as an Area Manager at ALDI is ever the same!  Each day I will visit at least one of my stores and some days I visit all four.  Upon every visit, I walk through the store and provide feedback to the manager on duty.  Depending on the day, I conduct audits on various areas including workplace health and safety, merchandising, payroll and point of sale. 

I will always chat with my managers about any issues they are experiencing and we then build strategies and solutions to deal with those issues.  This often involves communicating with colleagues in the Regional or Head Offices.  I regularly host group interviews for new Store Assistants, as I am responsible for the staffing of my four stores.  Throughout the day I often call my colleagues to discuss what is happening in my area, talk about a project or new system we are implementing and bounce ideas off one another.

Think of all the things a store needs to manage in order to operate effectively… My job is to oversee it all!  We are a constantly growing and evolving business, so Area Managers are often given interesting projects to work on that involve collaborating with other parts of the business, for example transport, purchasing or IT, and reporting back to our Directors.  There is so much variety in the Area Manager role so you are always utilising different skills and resources.

What's your background?

I grew up in Sydney and graduated from Nagle College in 2010 as the winner of the Caltex All-Rounder Award. I always enjoyed school, studying a variety of subjects including ancient history and chemistry – not your usual precursors to law school!  I was fortunate to be able to attend a school trip to Italy and Germany as part of my ancient history studies in year 12.  It was then that I caught the travel bug and I have been overseas every year since; 11 different countries so far! I played tennis throughout school, and branched into touch football and oztag in high school.  As a young teenager, I ran the local tennis centre canteen on a Saturday afternoon before getting my first real job as a cashier at another retailer. On the holidays I worked as a coach at children’s sports clinics – it was here that I met my now fiancé who was also a coach!

During university, I worked in a retail warehouse as a pick-packer.  In my third year, I landed a job as a law clerk at a boutique firm in the city where I spent three great years.  While I do not currently practise as a lawyer, the skills and knowledge I gained at this firm continue to be invaluable in my current role.  In my final year at university, I applied for an internship with ALDI and since completing that internship, I haven’t looked back! I completed a project during my internship which I presented to my colleagues and Directors and earned myself a spot in the Graduate Area Manager Program.  When I finished the program, I received the keys to four ALDI stores which I now run as if they were my own.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! My colleagues and I come from a variety of backgrounds, including having studied film production, working in the hotel industry, working in the armed forces or in my case, legal practise.  However, there are some characteristics that we all share.  They include a drive to succeed, an ability to motivate others and strong problem-solving skills.  The Area Manager role affords a level of autonomy that warrants good organisation, planning and time management.  These characteristics and skills can be learned in numerous industries, not only through work and study but also through extra-curricular activities too.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love the autonomy I am given in my job. I set my own schedule and manage my stores in the way I best see fit.  I also love the close proximity within which I work with my staff. I get to teach them new things and it's rewarding to see them and the stores improve and succeed.

What are the limitations of your job?

The Area Manager role bears a lot of responsibility. Our stores are open 7 days a week, so we often work weekends, early mornings and late nights in order to be across everything that is happening in our stores.  I am responsible for receiving and actioning information from the stores, including customers, as well as the various departments in our Regional and Head Offices on all aspects of store operations.  A failure to effectively communicate this information can very quickly have negative consequences for stores and the business.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Enjoy university!  It is the best opportunity you will get to meet like-minded people, participate in unique activities like Australian University Games, travel in the holidays and just learn about life.  Some of my best experiences were at university.
  • Give 100% to everything you do.  This is a piece of advice given to me by my high school Principal and I have never forgotten it.  You will never regret giving 100% and it is only when you give 100% you realise your true potential.
  • Network!  Your friends, lecturers, colleagues and bosses are a giant pool of information and experience.  Whether it be a recommendation of the best cities to visit in Japan or how reconcile an issue in an inventory, someone always has an answer or at least a suggestion that can lead you in the right direction.