More from Toby
University didn’t appeal to Toby. He thought gaining experience and a career would be more beneficial, rather than a qualification which he may not use after university. The School Leaver Programme proved to Toby that you don’t need a degree to excel in your career.
"I was really excited when I heard I’d been accepted on the Programme. There are so many opportunities in M&S to develop, so I couldn’t wait to start.
"On my first day I was thrown in at the deep end, which was great because it gave me a real understanding of what I was going to be doing for the next 18 months. I soon learned you need to get involved in everything and soak up as much as possible, because once you finish the Programme it’s a lot harder to learn.
"I work in the Peterborough store as a Trainee Clothing and Home Commercial Manager, looking after menswear at a commercial level. I also looked after all of Clothing and Home for a few weeks, which was a great opportunity to learn new skills and I’m involved in a number of areas in the new Biggleswade store, including the Christmas shop.
"Starting my career earlier rather than going to university gave me the chance to learn more and develop my skills in a workplace. I personally prefer on the job learning to classroom learning. You can see first-hand how to deal with a situation and the best outcome available. For example, it’s only by dealing with a customer who wants to make a complaint that you’ll develop your management style and learn the best way to deal with them.
"One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of planning. This was certainly true when I led my first Big Lingerie move. Hours of planning meant we completed a move that could have lasted through the night with only two hours’ extra spend. This showed I could overcome a seemingly impossible challenge and deliver a great outcome. When the commercial team walked the floor, they said how well the move had gone!
"The main qualities you need at M&S are summed up by three of their values: Inspiration, In touch and Innovation. You need to inspire others to do their best, be in touch with your team and understand their needs, and think outside of the box to make sure you always accomplish your goals.
"I get a great feeling working for a company that cares for its employees and understands the pressures we face on a daily basis. I have the chance to interact with senior leaders and show my abilities at all levels. There are loads of opportunities for me to develop and I’m 100% supported by my team and line manager to do so. I enjoy leading a motivated and hard-working team, and dealing with customers each day to make their shopping experience the best it can be.
"For the future, once I’m signed off as a Commercial Manager, I’d like to use my skill on other departments such as the food hall. Eventually I want to become a Store Manager, and I’d also like to gain some experience in head office."Inside M&S