1 June, 2017

THE JOURNEY FROM BUYER TO TRADING MANAGER

Cassie is a self-confessed foodie. She worked for two big supermarkets before joining us as a Buyer almost three years ago, attracted by the M&S culture and the prospects for career progression.

As a Buyer, she was responsible for driving category sales and profits. This meant reacting to market changes, keeping the customer at the front of mind in all buying decisions and collaborating with suppliers to deliver the best outcomes. “In my first month I worked on the re-launch of our Indian Ready Meals and 12 months later the new range arrived in store,” she says. “Being involved from day one to final delivery, and seeing M&S move up from fifth to third in this market, makes me very proud.”

Despite finding the Buying environment rewarding and enjoyable, Cassie had always set her sights on progression to Trading Manager. Her development plan was based around stretching her skills to step up to a more senior role and she discussed her ambitions with the Head of Trading. So when a Trading Manager vacancy became available in Desserts & Frozen, it was an obvious fit – even though she knew it would be moving out of her comfort zone.

“I knew Buying like the back of my hand – I’d been doing it long enough, so I knew what needed to be done! Moving into the role of a Trading Manager was a bit of a step into the unknown, but everyone has been incredibly supportive so the transition has been easier than I expected. What’s helped the most is talking to other Trading Managers who have had the same career path as me. One thing I’ve learnt is that everyone does the job differently so you have to approach it in a way that works for you.”

Cassie is responsible for profit and loss within Desserts & Frozen, and to deliver this she works with Buyers, Technologists, Developers, Space & Range Planners, Supply Chain & Logistics, as well as with suppliers. One key thing Cassie has noticed is that, while Buying has a strong commercial focus, the Trading Manager role places more emphasis on people.

“If your team members are happy and feel empowered, it creates a positive environment and you’ll get better, faster results. It’s important that you’re prepared to support your people and help them develop, so you have to be interested in the coaching side of the job. I’m fortunate to work with a really great team – their energy and enthusiasm inspires me daily. In a way, my team sums up M&S. Everyone is approachable and willing to help colleagues. There’s a spirit of collaboration and openness to do things differently. No matter how long you’ve been with M&S, you can make a difference.”

With summer approaching, it’s a pivotal time for Desserts & Frozen. So what would Cassie recommend for a hot day? “Our Frozen Yoghurts range! Coconut is my favourite – I like to convince myself that because it’s frozen yoghurt, not ice-cream, it’s healthy!”

Inside M&S