The judges liked how our scheme showed top-down commitment to tackle youth unemployment, and that young people are instrumental in designing and evolving it. It’s delivered tangible results.
A lifetime of opportunities and a future of growth
Tara is M&S, through-and-through. She started with us as a part-time Sales Assistant and had already become a full-time Section Manager by the tender age of 18. Over 22 years later, she’s still among the most loyal in the business, heading up the merchandising team in our Clothing & Home department. Her obvious passion for retail has taken her through a journey of roles, each sharing their own enriching experiences.
Her reasons for building an entire career with us reflect two key characteristics of our company: support and opportunity. “M&S has supported me through a Masters degree, allowing me to work flexibly on a part-time basis,” she says. And as for maximising her prospects for progression, she explains, “M&S is a great brand and has exposed me to different roles, across different levels of the business. I never felt the need to explore another company, as I continue to grow and develop here.”
After performing at the highest level in both our stores and head office, and taking advantage of the developmental courses we have access to, Tara worked her way up through merchandising. “I’ve covered all roles across Menswear, Womenswear, Home, Lingerie and Beauty,” she says. “Now, my immediate objective is to identify growth opportunities and imbed a future-proof process in Childrenswear. However, balancing all our different measures of stock management, sale management and costs is an ongoing part of my role.”
When asked what keeps the job fresh after so many years in the same organisation, Tara places the emphasis on her colleagues: “The pace of the business has increased, but the passion for the brand has never changed. The people who work here care about M&S and want it to succeed.” She also has massive respect and is incredibly fond of the ones closer to her, saying “the team I work with are great; really open to moving the business forward, which I think is really important.”
Other than having the room to grow and positive influences around her, Tara attributes her satisfaction to the simple fact that the work suits her. “The merchandiser role is geared at the multi-tasker,” she tells us. “I like the variation in my role and having a really clear plan on what will drive the business helps you do a good job.” In her time, she’s been able to excel and overcome several challenges, such as presenting to hundreds of people at once in a newly confident manner. She’s even had the privilege of meeting the CEO: “I thought he was a customer. When I asked him if I could help, he explained who he was and I told him he looked different to the posters!”
Tara will always be a firm believer that there are endless opportunities at M&S for proactive multi-taskers. If this accurately describes you, click here to see the roles available.Inside M&S
Surpassing the competition through leadership and innovation
You could say Katie’s career had been designed for a management role at M&S. We first met her back in 1995, when she joined us on a year-long placement as a young student. Since graduating, she’s gained invaluable experience on both sides of the fence, having worked with one of our major clothing suppliers for 16 years. After reuniting with us in 2013, she’s been shaping the future of our popular Menswear department as an insightful Technical Lead.
For Katie, the most exciting part of the job is coaching a team of technologists and travelling the world in search of fresh ideas. “Working with teams on the ground is fundamental to delivering great products,” she says. “Sourcing new fabrics with technical advantages, as well as engineering fabrics for product innovation, profit margin and manufacturing strategy is what sets us apart from the competition.”
The challenges Katie faces on a daily basis involve striking a balance between her technical and management responsibilities. However, her ability to prioritise enables her to effectively collaborate with other areas of the business: “We work alongside the design team to ensure we’re always focused on upcoming trends.” This is essential, Katie stresses, as it’s “everyone’s responsibility” to deliver products that are stylish, innovative and created with our customers in mind.
Even though Katie had already gained an impressive professional skillset before joining us, she’s more than happy to admit we’ve furthered her development and opened many doors for her career. “M&S introduced me to the 30% club. Delivered by Women Ahead, it offers mentoring across all sectors in order to achieve a broader pipeline of women succeeding at all levels.” She also has a lot to say for our own brand of mentorship, which is focused on our employees’ long-term progression: “They gave me all the contacts across the business to expand my knowledge and management skills.”
Katie is currently working as one of the Menswear Change Champions for The Smarter Working Project, helping to ensure our work space is fit for the future and our mindset is thinking more smartly and efficiently. Plus, she’s been the proud organiser of major events that have opened us up to new business opportunities, such as our first Fabric Mill Day, attracting 500 visitors from head office to connect with 70 worldwide fabric suppliers. In this way, her talents have had a visible effect on our annual performance.
To anyone else hoping to pioneer innovative results within the company, Katie recommends being versatile, inquisitive, creative and open to alternative approaches – as well as being a good leader. “Take advantage of all the networking opportunities and training available,” she says. “And it goes without saying to follow our strategy of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.”
By following these simple pieces of advice, Katie has been able to live up to our values of Inspiration, Innovation, Integrity and In-touch, and you can too.
Click here to discover the engaging technical roles available at M&S.Inside M&S
A WELCOME ADDITION TO AN UP-AND-COMING AREA
The new M&S Simply Food store in Colindale will be a huge asset to the local community. It’s a brand new build with a covered customer park and luxury flats above – stylish but functional. And as we’re getting everything ready, you can smell the newness and sense the excitement!
The new store will offer all our food hall favourites and have its own In-Store Bakery. There will also be a 60-seater café. So as well as buying all the food and beverages they need for later, shoppers will be able to take time out and grab a coffee, sandwich, pastry or whatever takes their fancy.
When it comes to opening a new store, Kate is an experienced hand at getting everything ship-shape. In fact, this is the fourth new M&S store Kate has been involved in. Most recently, she played a key role in our West Hampstead store, which is already proving a huge success both for the community and for M&S.
Her hopes are high for Colindale and her enthusiasm for this kind of venture undiminished. “I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the area, getting to know the people, getting to know their shopping patterns,” she says. “Colindale is an up-and-coming area, changing all the time through all the local developments, both residential and retail. M&S is very conscious that we are at the heart of the community and we have a very real responsibility to live up to people’s expectations and play our part in Colindale’s life. Colindale will benefit from a high-quality food retailer in the area and we will provide a valuable service to the community and an excellent customer experience.”
Delivering this kind of experience calls for all kinds of people. We’re going to need early birds who can stock the shelves before the day gets underway, people to operate the tills or give great service on the shop floor. You could also work as an In-Store Baker, prepare or serve food in the café, or take on a Store Operations role. The great thing is, since the store will be open from 6am to 9pm, we will be able to offer a variety of shifts to suit different lifestyles.
Find out about M&S Colindale opportunities here.Inside M&S
CELEBRATING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
Meet Nathan, who joined us in 2010 on the Marks & Start programme. “It was a huge thing for me starting in the business. It gave me the self-confidence I needed and basically changed my life,” he says. That’s why he’s now giving something back by acting as an ambassador for the programme and a buddy for new joiners.
Nathan’s now thriving as a Learning Administrator in our HR Shared Services team in Salford Quays, Manchester, organising and booking workshops for employees across our business. He’s a ‘Plan A’ representative, working on its values and charity commitments. And, believing it’s important to get to know your colleagues, he’s first to volunteer to arrange social events, the latest being a wine and tapas evening.
But if Nathan is passionate about the Marks & Start programme and what it can do for young people, as a “happy and openly gay male”, he’s also passionate about LGBT, believing that our diversity and inclusion agenda defines M&S.
Nathan attended the 2016 M&S Pride Parade in Manchester and this year he’s part of our Pride planning team. “Last year, we had a fantastic time and to represent LGBT and M&S was a remarkable experience,” he says. “There was a lot of solidarity with colleagues from across the business and we all had a huge amount of fun. Everyone made a real effort to ensure it was such a success – hopefully, this year we can make it even better!”
Nathan believes that LGBT has enabled him to understand what a positive thing being different can be and Pride provides a platform for that. “Pride means a lot to me. It’s a chance to celebrate our differences and unique qualities as individuals. But it’s also a reminder of how far the LGBT community has come and how we support each other. Pride also has allowed me to delve into the history and background of our community and how we continue to grow.”
School can be a challenging experience at the best of times and Nathan found that being gay, and often confused, made it even harder. But growing up, deciding to come out and marrying the love of his life, Nathan feels that he can now be himself and comfortable with who he is.
So is there more acceptance of men who are openly gay? “There are still things happening to the LGBT community in parts of the world that are unimaginable. But I do believe that over time these issues will finally pass, especially if we support one another.”
And support is something Nathan feels he has always received from his manager, colleagues and the wider business.
“I believe that M&S encourages everyone to be themselves and express their personalities. I can always be myself at work and I haven’t experienced any ‘issues’ regarding my sexuality,” he says. “M&S has a great track record in supporting different communities and individuals. For example, we have an LGBT support network on our internal social networking site, Yammer, where anyone can go to share ideas and opinions or ask for support or guidance they need – it’s a great way to help build the LGBT community within M&S. On Yammer, there’s also a Buddy Network where people can access support and information on a whole range of topics.”
Enjoy Pride 2017 – as we certainly will.
One Year On For A Pride Champion
If you were tuned into our insider stories this time last year, you might remember us talking to Stephen. He’s the Fire, Health and Safety Officer at our Southampton West Quay store. But as a gay man who valued the love, support and respect he received from his colleagues when he decided to come out, he’s also someone for whom Pride is an annual event to be truly cherished.
“Pride is special to me; it means to be accepted by everyone, anyone, anywhere, anytime,” he told us at the time. “It means to be who I am and not who I have to be.”
Last year, Stephen took part in London and Manchester Pride, wearing one of our specially made ‘M&S Be Yourself’ t-shirts. He has particularly fond memories of the colourful and ebullient pre-Pride gathering. As this year’s Pride Festival approaches, however, he’s poised to take on a more active role.
That’s because Stephen has become the M&S LGBTQ+ Pride Event Planner for our London and Southern Regions. “I’ll be playing a huge part in organising London Pride for the business and helping any stores keen to take part in a Pride event in their local area – guiding them through best practice, that sort of thing. This year, we’re expanding our Pride activities and making the celebrations more exciting than ever before. There are more awareness and support events, we’ve introduced new corporate t-shirts, our window displays are reaching more and more stores, and we’ll be holding both pre- and post-Pride gatherings. Naturally any suggestions on how we can make Pride an even more spectacular event in the M&S calendar will be gratefully received!”
Stephen believes that M&S is becoming an increasingly inclusive employer that is reaping the benefits of having a diverse workforce. With constant reviews of our diversity policy and sustained investment in Pride and other LGBTQ+ events, ‘Being Yourself’ is a message that we’re championing right across our business.
“Pride symbolises equality; it tells me to be proud of who I am and to not let it hold me back,” Stephen says. “I also believe in being vocal within M&S LGBTQ+ conversations whether it be through the business wide internal social media platform, Yammer network or even just in the store. This helps to raise awareness for those who may need support. To me, Pride also symbolises one of the M&S values: Integrity. Together, we are one business and we will succeed because of our people.”
Becoming LGBTQ+ Pride Event Planner is Stephen’s proudest moment at M&S. “It allows me to make a real change in how the company can better support LGBTQ people. I can be me and help others to be themselves.”
Follow @mandstalent and @marksandspencer on Twitter for live updates during the Pride events.Inside M&S
The Missing Ingredient in Westway Cross (Greenford)
Westway Cross is the premier shopping park on the A40 west of London corridor and, recently extended, among the foremost retail parks within the M25 Greater London region.
There is a host of retailers here already. Fashion? Tick. Beauty and pharmacy? Tick. Sportswear? Tick. Food retail? Ah… not until now.
The M&S Foodhall will be the only food outlet on the park’s 138,000 sq. ft. of space, so it’s an exciting time for us and those who join us. The store will stock the full range of quality M&S food produce. There will be an In-Store Bakery. People will be able to pick up their newspapers here, birthday and other cards, as well as flowers and plants. As the only licensed alcohol seller on the park, they can also buy a nice bottle of wine to have with their meal.
Milan has been heavily involved in the new store. “Having visited Greenford in preparation for the store opening, I have seen it needs a good food retailer in the retail park. As a destination spot for shoppers, we will provide a valuable service, as well as an excellent shopping experience for our customers.”
Milan rightly calls the latest M&S Foodhall a destination store, but it’s not in the back of beyond like many retail parks. In fact, Westway Cross is in a highly accessible location within close proximity to the A40 arterial road, and there is a large car park available. The park is also just a five-minute walk from Greenford underground and overground railway stations.
Which makes it very convenient for people who share the M&S values and can give our customers exceptional service. We’re going to be recruiting Customer Assistants across the store, including the In-Store Bakery. There are also opportunities for Operations Assistants who can keep the new store running smoothly. The store will be open from 6am to 9pm, so there will be lots of shifts available to suit people with different commitments.
To find out more about the new opportunities coming to Greenford M&S, click here.Inside M&S
A Welcome Return To Huntingdon
In 2009, M&S reluctantly shut up shop in Huntingdon High Street. Our loyal shoppers have missed having an M&S store on their doorstep. We’ve missed being part of the Huntingdon community. It’s a fantastically traditional market town, with quintessential Englishness, and a rich history dating back to the Anglo-Saxons and Danes.
So we’re delighted to announce that an M&S foodhall will be opening soon in Huntingdon. It will be located at Unit 1A Chequers Court. And our latest new store opening is great news, not only for shoppers from a catchment area of 22,000 people who insist on quality, but also for locals looking for a job that fits in with their lifestyle.
Our new Huntingdon store will be easily accessible. Bus and train stations will be between five and 10 minutes away, depending on the length of your legs! Long-stay car parks are about the same distance.
With 7,800 sq. ft. of space, there will be plenty to satisfy local appetites. We’ll be opening a 24-seat Café, where people can relax and unwind with a coffee, sandwich or hot meal. And an In-store Bakery where we can tempt shoppers with our delicious selection of breads, pastries, cookies and cakes.
You can work in our Café or Bakery, and we are also looking for people to work in Food Operations or as Food Advisors. There is a variety of shifts available so you can fit work around your personal commitments: 6am to 2pm; 7am to 3pm; and 2pm to 10pm. There are also additional Café-only shifts: 8am to 4pm; 9am to 5pm; and 10am to 6pm. Just let us know what suits you!
Store Manager, Jo has been involved in the new store from the start: “I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the town, getting to know the people, getting to know their shopping patterns. Huntingdon is a great town, it’s a unique town and I’ve been overwhelmed by the sense of community. M&S is very conscious that we will be at the heart of it.”
Click here to discover exciting new roles on offer in M&S Huntingdon.Inside M&S
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