Milena Dragiyska has been managing Lidl Bulgaria since 2007, when the chain entered the Bulgarian market. She began her career at Lidl Germany in 2002 as a regional Sales Manager for the Stuttgart and Karlsruhe regions, after which she continued her career at the Lidl headquarters where she was responsible for various international projects for Lidl International. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and of the Board of the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria.
Ms. Dragiyska, the business often addresses the problem that today's education does not prepare practically the future staff. Do you see such a problem?
The business does not have to take a passive position and expect to get good staff per se - it also has the obligation to undertake a serious contribution towards their preparation. Companies need to realize that their role can start at school and continue at university. By implementing special programs for young people and by providing a real chance to enable them to accumulate practical knowledge. It would be even greater if the business and institutions represented by the Ministry of Education cooperate more effectively in this direction. A good example of such a successful partnership is the dual form of training - however, with joint efforts, it can take on a much larger scale and be implemented in many sectors. This is only part of the examples of how business and education all together can give young people the good professional foundation we are all talking about.
How does Lidl Bulgaria enable young people to gain hands-on experience?
I would start with our internship program - every Summer it enables students in the 11th and 12th grade to make their first steps in professionally. Over the last 2 years, a total of 154 trainees from all over the country have been part of the program and, thanks to it, have formed their first working experience and habits and earned their first salary. At the same time, we are always looking for their feedback on how they see us as an employer - this is a valuable information we receive that helps us to improve constantly. We have also been a partner of the dual form of education for the last 5 years, currently working with a total of 45 children from 4 graduates. Last year, we welcomed the first class of students to spend the practical part of their studies at Lidl Bulgaria. Over this 12-18 month period, participants in our trainee program, which we launched in 2017, gain valuable experience in all key areas and receive an extremely attractive salary. They have a real chance to continue in the company and rise to the middle management level. This is an extremely serious program, with which we invest a lot in preparing a potential employee and by giving him or her a chance to continue evolving with us. Currently, a total of 7 participants have passed through it.
What would you say to all young people who are currently pursuing their professional careers?
First of all, I would like to tell them to be curious and persistent in their efforts. Be motivated to develop and focus sufficiently. The speed of success is a natural consequence of what has been learned and its proper application. Fighting with elbows is not the way and the key to success. Values are very important - the support lies in them. And of course, keep in mind that Lidl will is a good place for them to make their first professional steps, and to have a serious career development. There are hundreds of good examples here.