6 October, 2016

More from Naomi

Naomi has worked for M&S since she was 17. Today, she is a Trainee Commercial Manager focusing on Foods and Finance and Operations in our Haverfordwest store in West Wales. She line manages three managers and is working as the Store Manager’s number two. 

I was ecstatic when I got the call telling me I’d been accepted onto the programme. I remember it so well. They called in the morning and I realised all the hard work and interviews had really paid off. I text my line manager at the time to thank her for everything she had done for me during my development plan. Then I went to work at 12pm. 

I’ve always been career driven. Starting with M&S aged at 17 has helped my career and personal development massively. I developed strong people skills from a young age and made sure my line manager knew what my aspirations were. So I was able to get the support I needed to realise them – and here I am.

When I began the programme, I was in our Cardiff store. Everyone was so welcoming and we knew from our attachment day which department we’d be starting out on and who our mentors would be. 
I spent most of my first day trying to get to know everyone.  In my first two weeks, I worked in a different department every day to get to know that area and the people working there.

The programme equips you with all kinds of valuable skills and experience. For me, there’s no substitute for on-the-job experience; you get to learn in the moment. The classroom alone can’t prepare you for retail. You have to learn how to react when things may not be going your way and to be proactive. This happens through experiencing it first hand and being able to make improvements straight away.  

Working here has made me really confident too. I know what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’ve also benefitted from working alongside subject area experts. Learning from them has enabled me to bring new skills and a different perspective to my day-to-day work. 

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is about leadership. Different people respond better to different styles. They may be competitive, like me, and driven by a winning mentality or they may have other motivations; they may simply like being around people. Whatever our motivations, we’re all here to provide great customer service. My job, as a leader and manager, is to bring everyone on that journey.

To be successful here, I’d say you to need to be a great networker. You’ll meet lots of people, so build relationships with them; you may need their help along the way. It’s important, also, to understand where the business is going. You’ll need to articulate this to your team in a way they understand. This calls for excellent communication skills. My last tip is: be organised! Have a structure to your day and use a diary. Make sure your team understands this too.

I’m really proud to say I work for M&S. We’re a company built on heritage but with a clear vision of where we’re going. Whenever I tell someone I work here, their instant response is ‘they’re a good employer to work for’. In my experience, that’s 100% true. 

Can you see yourself joining Naomi on our Level 4 Apprenticeship Scheme for School Leavers? Click here.

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