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James: Graduate

By M&S

I knew I wanted to work in fashion since secondary school, but I’m quite a numbers-based, analytical person. So, when I first read the description of what it was like to work in Clothing & Home, I thought, “That’s the way my brain works.” The maths side of Buying and Merchandising appealed to me a lot.

When it came to graduation, M&S stood out to me as one of the only retailers with a graduate scheme that had a real focus on the Merchandising element I was particularly interested in. High-street retail is much more fast-paced than luxury retail, which means you get to work with bigger volumes of stock, and that’s what drew me in.

I’ve now worked in three different departments since starting at M&S. The range I’m most excited about right now, which we signed off last month, is our next collection of Design Bedding. Every season you learn so much by analysing what you think the customer will like. And it looks amazing both in store, and online!

My favourite part of my job is when we sign off next season’s products. For a whole day, twice a year, we showcase the products that have been developed and get final sign off from the leadership team before we can start production. It’s all about the buyers, the designers, the technologists, and the merchandisers coming together and basically showing off what we do best.

Since I’ve joined M&S, there are new roles being created in the business, like Head of Category, which will oversee buying and merchandising. That kind of role really interests me. But whatever I choose to do, I know that I’d like to carry on working collaboratively and flexibly.

Thanks to M&S’ flexible working approach, I was able to get my puppy, Monty, in January. He’s only 8 months old, having the flexibility to work from home some days means I can spend the time I would have spent commuting on walking Monty instead!

Our leadership team is also very open with their personal lives, which makes it so much easier for other people to be themselves here. I’ve now had the opportunity to walk with M&S at both Manchester Pride and London Pride, and I’m proud to say I work for a company that makes it easy to openly be me.