1 December, 2015

Our shining star of HR

After studying for an Acting degree on the University of Central Lancashire, Rebecca worked part-time for an HR consultancy. This inspired a change of course in her career.

“I enjoyed working at the HR consultancy so much, I decided to start a post-graduate qualification in HR Management. I love working with people so it seemed a natural next step. What’s more, I’d developed quite a few transferrable skills during the course of my Acting degree. During my post-graduate studies, I came across the HR Graduate Management Scheme at M&S. I wasn’t sure if I’d still be eligible as I’d graduated back in 2007 but I applied and, I’m very happy to say, was successful.

“People are quite clearly key at M&S. It’s a brand that’s recognised for the quality of its customer service, so attracting and developing the right talent is crucial. This really appealed to me, particularly as I’d grown up with M&S and had an interest in retail and fashion.

“My first four months of the programme were spent in store. There wasn’t a specific HR angle but I did get involved with various commercial activities across Food and General Merchandise. This gave me a good understanding of how the business functions on the frontline, as well as an insight into the people strategy. This gave me a solid knowledge base to build on.

“Next, I spent four months in People Policy Specialist team. There is a great deal involved in running a successful store and line managers need support from HR on a range of policy-related queries; anything at all to do with managing people really. This was followed by some time spent shadowing a Learning & Development Consultant who covered the North West region. M&S prides itself on its high-performance culture and understands the importance of investing in its people accordingly. So I spent eight weeks finding my way around everything from inductions and workshops to training in a broader sense. 

“My final rotation involved working alongside a Resource and Succession Consultant who was responsible for recruiting and training Section Managers. M&S really does believe in nurturing its talent and giving people the opportunity to go as far as their potential can take them. I think this is what attracted me to HR in the first place; the focus on people and supporting and developing them. It’s incredibly rewarding.

“My first appointment meant moving from the North West to London to take up a Head Office position within the Talent Team. I spent three months working with the Head of Talent dealing with senior-level recruitment and went on to work as Talent Consultant in my own right. Since then, my career has come on in leap and bounds. My technical HR knowledge is getting stronger all the time and I was nominated for – and won – HR Star of the Quarter recently for my work on a new performance management system.”

Inside M&S