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Janos Bana: Working at John Lewis Partnership

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

Why did you pick JLP?

Initially, I knew what industries I was not interested in and this helped me narrow my search. I came across the Partnership's Graduate Scheme early on in my job hunt and it seemed interesting. The more I researched John Lewis the more I realised that the culture and the values of the Partnership are very much in line with my own personal views on how a business should be run. I was also deeply impressed by JLP's Corporate Responsibility initiatives and programmes. Additionally, John Lewis and Waitrose have got a great reputation for their excellent customer service which I experienced first hand on numerous occasions prior to applying for the Graduate Scheme.

What skills or experiences at university best prepared you for your career at JLP?

Further to my core studies, my extracurricular activities prepared me the most for working at an organisation such as John Lewis. As part of the Nottingham Advantage Award Programme, I volunteered to take part in a 6 months long IT Consultancy Project. I was a member of a team of six and we were asked to provide free IT consultancy services to a local charity. This experience taught me how to collaborate and improve my overall communication skills. It also helped me to develop an analytical mindset and critical thinking which are crucial skills when trying to understand and learn new processes and systems.

What has surprised you about your role or the firm, since joining JLP?

I am astounded by the complexity of the business itself and the number of moving elements there are to provide services to our customers. Information Technology provides a backbone to all the different functions within the business and therefore it is extremely important. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that is not directly visible to our customers. I am driven to learn more about the different parts of the business in order to understand how our systems and processes interact with each other. I know that it will take a substantial amount of time and will never be able to fully understand all aspects of the business, but I truly believe that this will enable me to become better at future roles within John Lewis.

How would you describe the culture and working environment?

The culture and the working environment at JLP is very friendly and supportive. I particularly enjoy that every Partner is easily approachable regardless of their seniority. The structure of the induction enables us to meet representatives of numerous teams across the Partnership's IT department. This helps us to get a high-level understanding of the function of different teams and how their work fits in the bigger picture. Meeting so many people across the department makes me feel welcome and more relaxed at the workplace despite the large size of the IT department and the fact that I have only been in the office for a few weeks. I find it fascinating to see how such a big organisation operates and enjoy learning more and more about it.

Tell us about an average day at JLP?

As I am at the start of my Graduate Scheme, every day is slightly different. The organisers of my Induction Programme were the sponsors of the Scheme and Graduates from previous years’ intakes. This Induction is very structured. Each day involves theory based sessions as well as hands-on practical sessions that give us time to put our newly gained knowledge into practice. Occasionally we shadow some of our experienced colleagues working in job roles related to the topic of our current week’s studies. At the end of each week we give a presentation on what we have learnt and things that we enjoyed the most.

What is your current role like?

At the start of the Technology Scheme all Graduates take part in a five weeks long induction programme called "GradLab". This programme is designed to help us familiarise ourselves with the IT Operational Model within John Lewis. Each week we learn about the most important stages of the aforementioned model. We were split into groups at the start of GradLab and each group had to come up with a solution to a problem proposed by the Partnership. By the end of "GradLab" each group should implement a working prototype of their proposed solution. The different stages of the GradLab include innovation, idea shaping, gathering requirements, implementation, testing and transmission to operations. I'm currently in my second week of my induction.

Once the GradLab is over, I will go into my first rotation. As part of the Graduate Scheme I will have the opportunity to join different teams within the IT department and work in different job roles for each rotation. The rotations will enable me to get exposure to the different stages of the IT Operational Model / Software Development Cycle. These include a rotation in business analysis, development, testing, operations and project coordination (not necessarily in this order). The rotations are not set in stone and therefore there are opportunities to join teams that I am interested in e.g. Information Security, Environments etc.. Each rotation is 2-6 months long depending on business need.

I do not know what my first rotation will be at this point, but I have been internally approached by the Business Intelligence team who wanted to find out more about me and my aspirations. The team is involved with working with Big Data and Machine Learning techniques which is definitely a field of IT that I am interested in. This is just another example of the flexibility of the scheme and the number of opportunities that are available within the Partnership.