What originally drew you to apply for a graduate programme with M&S?
I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after university, but I knew I loved shopping and I was really interested in people and how they make decisions. That’s what led me to look into retail and the Enterprise Scheme at M&S felt like the perfect opportunity. Very few graduate programmes give you such a wide variety of opportunities across the business.
How was your onboarding experience into the business and how were you supported to work on projects/rotations that were well suited to you?
As a cohort we’ve been given so much support and training throughout the scheme so far. This includes workshops, learning days and mentoring sessions with your sponsor, so you’re constantly learning and developing. It’s really easy to find out about different areas of the business because everyone at M&S is so approachable. Even senior colleagues will be willing to have a coffee with you and explain their business area/role and discuss opportunities for future projects or rotations. I’ve also found speaking to other graduates about their projects and business areas to be a great way of working out which rotations you might enjoy in the future. For example, one of my colleagues Ben did his first rotation in Dotcom International, an area I think I’d love to do a project in one day.
Tell us a bit about projects you have worked on during your time on the programme so far?
My first project was in C&H Logistics where I worked on improving our X-Dock Network Speed. This essentially means I was using data to work out how to get products between our distribution centres and to stores faster! This involved a lot of data analysis and was a great chance to upskill on using excel and Power BI. It also gave me a great understanding of our logistics network as I went to visit lots of our distribution centres throughout my time on the project.
My second project was in the Customer Experience and Loyalty Team where I got to work on the relaunch of Sparks! I worked with one of our agencies to run a 6-week online community where customers told us what they thought of the new scheme by answering polls, writing diary entries and taking videos. It was really fun and the feedback we got will help shape the future of the Sparks Scheme.
I also worked in the Data Strategy Team where I organised ‘Let’s Talk Data Science’. Because of COVID this ended up being the first completely virtual business wide event M&S has done. We didn’t know what king of engagement to expect with everyone working from home, but nearly 1,000 people joined the sessions! We ran 4 weeks of webinars and virtual events, all about what data science is and how we are using it in M&S.
I’ve now just started a secondment with one of our Founders Factory partners Wovn! Wovn are a start up using real-time data, collected through social media audiences, to help fashion retailers change the way they buy. I am so excited to be working with Wovn because their solution not only increases sell through it also helps reduce waste. Its very rewarding to know the work your doing is helping people and the planet! I never thought I’d get an opportunity like this, working with a start-up, so I feel very lucky!
What has been the most rewarding or enjoyable part of your programme/ project you worked on so far?
The most rewarding part of the programme was definitely organising and hosting the ‘Let’s Talk Data Science’ event. It was a huge challenge to move the event completely online but I’m so proud of how flexible the team were. My favourite moment was hosting the D&D Community hangout where Katie Bickerstaffe spoke about the importance of turbocharging our digital transformation and we had a panel on the importance of using Data Science in M&S.
How have you felt as a graduate at M&S? Have you felt valued, trusted? Have you been given autonomy to do your role?
I’ve felt completely valued and trusted in each one of my projects. You get the opportunity to take on big projects and challenges, while still feeling completely supported by your manager, sponsor and the early careers team.
Can you tell us something about the M&S Graduate programme that many people might not be aware of?
For me one of the best parts of being on the scheme is the other Enterprise Grads. We all support each other and its so exciting to hear what they are doing in different areas of the business. Between us we all have so much experience now, so we try to share what were learning and support each other as much as possible.
If you could give advice to those hoping to join M&S on our graduate programmes, what would it be?
I think my main piece of advice would be to demonstrate that you can be flexible. The past few months have shown us that things can change so quickly. Particularly on the Enterprise scheme you move roles quite often and you need to be ready to hit the ground running in a new team and an area you might not be familiar with. It can be challenging but it’s the best way to learn (plus you’ll never be bored!)