What originally drew you to apply for a graduate programme with M&S?
M&S is such a well known and respected retailer on the high-street. I wanted to play a part in it’s future and success as a top British retailer. It’s going through such an exciting digital transformation, which is a great opportunity to be involved inFor the graduate programme itself, I was drawn to the element of flexibility and change. It wasn’t set down to one specific discipline, it allowed you to try out different areas of the business which was perfect for myself as I was still trying to find that area I wanted to specialise in and focus in on.
How was your onboarding experience into the business and how were you supported to work on projects/rotations that were well suited to you?
I really enjoyed my first few months in the business, when looking back to the first 2 weeks in particular, we were provided with many introductory sessions to the business, in addition to training sessions aimed specifically at our personal development, learning and health & wellbeing. This all made me feel incredibly supported, and aware of who to speak to if a problem occurred.
For my projects and rotations, I had the full support of my current line manager, my company sponsor and the Early Careers team. Each of these people provided me with continuous support and offered advice when I was in the process of selecting my next rotation. My rotation choice was based around areas of the business that I wanted to gain further knowledge and insight into, and roles which would further support my developmental needs and requirements.
Tell us a bit about projects you have worked on during your time on the programme so far?
I spent my first 6 months working within the Foods business on a commercial transformation project called category transformation. This project was newly created and was aimed at transforming M&S Food’s range and product architecture to better fit that of the wider market. Allowing M&S Food to appeal to a wider range of consumers. It was a really interesting project, as it allowed me to get involved right at the centre of M&S Food and it’s products, whilst being able to work with some key stakeholders both internal and external to M&S.
I then spent a month looking at our C&H supply chain, to understand how we could reduce costs through reducing the amount of product returned to warehouses. Although only a short amount of time was spent here, I was able to learn a lot about how the C&H supply chain worked.
My 3rd rotation began as a secondment, however I was able to extend this formally to become a full rotation. This was within the newly formed Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) programme team. Where I was responsible for setting up the programme governance for the new acceleration programme, which was created to get M&S to rank more highly in organic Google search results, ultimately driving more clicks to the website and driving more sales. This programme was aimed at accelerating the SEO performance improvements for the business, through various workstreams which required managing. I was also able to get involved with one of the workstreams, which focussed on increasing the business knowledge and understanding of SEO.
What has been the most rewarding or enjoyable part of your programme/ project you worked on so far?
I find making a difference rewarding, so for me all my projects have been rewarding where my work has been able to support another colleague and make a difference to the business. For example, in my first project I was responsible for updating a PowerBI report which was used daily by my direct team and wider Foods business. In my last rotation, I was able to create and run training sessions across the business which provided people which the level of understanding required to become more digitally minded when making decisions.
How have you felt as a graduate at M&S? Have you felt valued, trusted? Have you been given autonomy to do your role?
As an M&S graduate, and I think especially as an Enterprise graduate, I have always felt incredibly valued by all of my teams. As I have been able to take on important roles within the teams, I have been able to provide support to my team in a meaningful way. You are trusted as a graduate to take on tasks independently, however, you are always given the support when it’s needed.
Can you tell us something about the M&S Graduate programme that many people might not be aware of?
There is opportunity to always learn and expand your skill set. For example, M&S offers a variety of training resources online which are open to anyone in the business and vary from mindfulness and meditation to presentation and communication skills. In addition, there is opportunity to gain further qualifications through a data fellowship which is essentially a coding and data analytics apprenticeship which you carry out alongside your day-job, where you are fully supported throughout the process. I am on my 5th month of the apprenticeship and have felt fully supported by both M&S and the external company providing the teaching resource. It is a great opportunity to learn alongside work and to really put my new skills in to practice within my role to help solve business problems.
If you could give advice to those hoping to join M&S on our graduate programmes, what would it be?
Be honest, be yourself and show your enthusiasm and care for the brand and people around you.
Anything else you think may be great to add?
Before joining M&S, I wasn’t aware of the breadth of opportunity available! By this I mean the opportunity with the number of different roles and teams which exists across the wide breadth of business areas. From data and digital to international, and from project management to finance or product development. There is so much opportunity available at M&S making it the perfect place to start your career journey.