Emma tells us about her journey from Graduate to National Account Manager, and gives her tips for the assessment process.
How would you describe your time on the graduate programme?
My time on the Graduate programme was one I’ll never forget. The jump from university into the working world is one nobody prepares you for, and you are given real and huge responsibilities to deliver key business projects. This was hugely empowering and great as the culture/ support of others enabled me to perform at my best and learn in a safe environment. All ideas are welcome. We had an international team and worked across Ireland – so I often travelled with this role, which was hugely busy, but an amazing way to get stuck in, learn and I felt a huge sense of belonging to my team.
My next role was in Category in the own-label Meals side of the business, whereby I worked across multiple Noon sites on the Waitrose, Morrison’s, and Aldi accounts. Again, I was thrown in the deep end on two huge accounts, and this was the first time I had external, customer facing exposure. Rotating across the business was something I’ll always value – not only did I get to work with more amazing, talented colleagues, but I was able to get exposure to different products, different customers, new factories as well as work closely with our development chefs to translate category visions into exciting new product development on the store shelves.
I must say, 1.5 years/2 years of my Graduate experience was totally virtual, so it has been challenging at times to develop my network and keep connected to others.
What type of University Degree did you do?
Business Management (with Year Abroad) at Warwick University
How did you find the assessment process?
The assessment centre was at Egham HQ and an overnight stay. The thing I loved most about this is that we were introduced to the business in day 1. That evening we got to go out for dinner with current graduates which was a great way to ask questions in a safe space with others who are currently doing the job – as well as get to know other candidates applying!
The next day was quite full on with a whole host of activities – interviews, a presentation to demonstrate the pre-prepped task and finally a group assessment.
My biggest bit of advice is to view this as a collaborative process vs a competitive one and demonstrate that you can be your best self, by supporting, leading and inspiring others to work together. I had previously done a few assessment centres before where I internalised the pressure and felt like everyone was against one another – but once I let go of this, I was able to show up as the true authentic me…as were others!
What would your advice to future grads be?
Be yourself – you have something unique that others don’t.
Comparison is the thief of joy – keep your head down focused on you, not others. Your development journey is your own.
Get involved in as much as you can – always say yes and get involved in as many projects as possible, not only will this speed up your learning, but it’s a great way to develop your network/ people to support you in future. You never know where a relationship might take you further down the line! Pilgrim’s Food Masters is a people business – prioritising their colleagues.
E + R = 0. Event + Response = Outcome. Remember that not everything will go your way. There can be times you feel outside of your comfort zone or you might make mistakes. It’s how you respond to these events and challenges that determines the outcome. Be mindful of what is in your control, what is outside of your control and what is within your influence.
What kinds of things do you do with the team for fun?
This has been a lot harder during COVID – we did some cookalongs, cocktail classes, quizzes etc.
Now, we are trying to get together as a team more on-site visits, dinners out and do team bonding activities to understand one another more and how to get the best out of each other
How did you prepare for the interview process?
I always get help from other people. I message people on linked in who are already at the company – I much prefer speaking to people and understanding if the role is good for me. Remember, it’s as much as you interviewing them as it is them interviewing you!
STAR technique – think of transferable examples you can use where you’ve demonstrated leadership, difficult conversations or coming up with an entrepreneurial idea via the STAR Method – situation, task, analysis, and result. The result/ reflective part is most important – what did you learn / what would you do differently.
Has anything surprised you about the company?
How supportive everyone is! The company has a huge focus on people vs being very competitive, results driven.