Órla O Ruairc, Mars UK

Órla O Ruairc joined Mars Chocolate UK just over 4 years ago as a graduate. During her time on the Mars Management Development Programme, Órla had the opportunity to work in four different roles across Mars over three years. Having recently completed the programme, Órla’s biggest personal learning was to take chances as and when opportunities presented themselves.

Mars UK

“Don’t be afraid to take yourself out of your comfort zone, put yourself in new situations because this is where you’ll learn the most.”

Equipped with a Chemistry degree and an interest in business, Órla viewed every role as a new opportunity to learn and grow. From working in teams to working on her own, Órla realised her first passion was working with people. Whilst her remaining roles presented new challenges from testing her analytical skills to being hands-on with daily projects, they all had one thing in common: working in a factory environment.

“It’s fascinating to see our products made and sent out to market, it’s also where a lot of our people work and they are important to our success. I knew it was where I wanted to be.”

In 2013, the role she had set her sights on within the factory was offered: Area Manager, with responsibility for the production of Mars’ Galaxy portfolio and leading a team of 45 manufacturing employees.

The role has been a great learning experience for Órla, her highlights include developing others, building collaborative relationships and learning about manufacturing processes from her team. The role has also had its challenges. For example; Órla is learning about managing other people’s development rather than just her own, getting to grips with new processes and digesting the fact that leadership brings with it significant responsibility, and business impact that rests on her shoulders.

Fortunately for Órla she had the support of the ‘Leadership at Mars’ programme, which was especially helpful during the first few months as a people leader. Órla attended the week long residential course which covered a variety of topics including how to engage your team, as it provided her with a great opportunity to do what she loves; network with fellow line managers and learn from others. In addition to this course, line managers at Mars also have the opportunity to participate in Excellence weeks, helping them improve their skills through a series of day courses.

“Listening to people with experience helped me tremendously, as they understood and had once been where I was as a new manager.” 

Órla sees her future firmly in leading people. She hopes to challenge herself by managing bigger teams, developing her business breadth and continuing to take new opportunities:

“As long as you understand what you enjoy and what you are good at, don’t worry too much about the details, focus on the challenge at hand and learn as much as you can.”