M&S is a household name. Our reputation for excellence and strong values are renowned across the globe. It’s down to our Corporate Communications team to both protect and enhance that reputation. This means communicating everything we stand for, everywhere we operate.
We have a broad remit and a range of specialist teams to cover this – from every angle. Our Corporate Press team handles our relationship with the press, as well as organising key events such as our AGM. Our Product PR team creates maximum exposure for our products by promoting them to our customers and the editorial press.
Working in Head Office
Our Head Office functions operate out of our London headquarters, our offices in Stockley Park, Chester and Manchester. Step into the nerve centre of M&S and get amongst the action that steers the heart of our fast-moving business and world-famous brand.
Where you'll work
You'll be working in one of our Head Office locations in Central London
Coming back for more
Former Business Placement colleagues Emma and Georgina, explain the experience working at M&S.Inside M&S
More from school leaver, Ben
I was in a busy shopping centre when I got the ‘you’ve been successful’ call telling I’d made it onto the Programme. But it didn’t stop me from jumping up and down while fist pumping the air, Flash Gordon-style. So my proudest moment quickly turned into my most embarrassing public moment. My first day passed in a blur of nervous excitement; everyone was really welcoming though, so I felt immediately at home.
I’d seen many of my friends take the Uni route only to struggle to land their chosen job at the end it. For me, the School Leaver Programme represented something more concrete that I was able to get my teeth into. I’m a great believer in work-based learning. You can see the results instantly. It helps with real life skills, such as communication and planning. Plus, you learn more due to the variables of retail, staff and customers. Classroom training has its place, but I get more excited about implementing what I’ve learnt back in store.
In my current role, it’s down to me to engage and motivate my team, to deliver a high level of customer service and shop floor standards. Monitoring revenue and turning around under-performing areas; planning launch events and every new season; and looking after the ‘Service’ pillar are also key responsibilities. Right now, I’m planning a business engagement initiative that focuses on putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.
My career with M&S so far has empowered me in several ways. ‘Big decision making’ being the first one. When you work in a fast-paced, £multi-million business, making quick commercial decisions where the buck stops with you is an extremely empowering feeling. The second is confidence – whether that’s in leading big teams towards a common goal, selling an idea to peers or managers, or leading commercial walk rounds for senior stakeholders within the business. I’ve also found myself applying the company’s values in my personal life; having integrity and being in touch are valuable traits to have in life.
The best thing about the role is that every day you can feel yourself developing as a person, a manager and as a leader. There are so many opportunities to learn more and get your teeth stuck into. Spending time in every business unit makes you a really balanced manager and provides you with many transferable skills.
Going forward, I’d like to manage a Simply Food store. This would continue my career development with the added bonus of being accountable for an entire store. Within five years, I’d like to manage a smaller Foods and Clothing and home store. That would be my ideal goal, but as long as I’m still challenging myself and progressing within M&S, if I take a slightly different path, I’ll still be very happy.
I believe working here is a real privilege; it’s such a prestigious brand. The business is very much focused on retaining and developing future managers and provides all the resources and materials you need along the way. I really couldn’t ask for more.
Think you could join Ben on our Level 4 Retail Management Apprenticeship for School Leavers? Click here for more.Inside M&S
Getting to know... Ben
1. Tell us about your biggest ambition.
Top of my ‘bucket’ list would be travelling to America. I’d have nothing but a backpack, some clothes and money. Once there, I’d buy a vintage split screen campervan and travel the length of route 66. The idea of experiencing all the different cultures, scenery, music, people and foods along the way – and creating some new memories – really appeals to me. I’d then have the campervan shipped back home to do the same round the coast of the UK.
2. Who was your favourite teacher at school and how did they inspire you?
Mrs Knights, my primary school teacher, was hugely inspiring. I can’t say I was particularly gifted when it came to drawing or painting, but she would always pick out the good things in my work. This always made me feel inspired around a subject I never particular liked. It also taught me to focus on the positives in a situation and play to my strengths.
3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I’d always wanted to be a vet. I loved being around animals and used to spend a lot of time at my auntie’s farm which would normally result in getting caked head to toe in mud and getting chased around by turkeys. Astronaut, Superhero and Sports Physio also featured on the list. Then I got my first taste of retail aged 17 and enjoyed the pace, supporting customers and the fact no two days were the same. So, whilst I never got to land on the moon in a superhero costume while operating on a giraffe, I’m loving where my career has taken me so far.
4. What do you see as your major strength?
Being driven to improve and succeed. Since discovering my passion for retail, I’ve completed two work-based NVQs: Level 2 in Customer Service and a Level 3 in Management and Team Leadership. I’ve worked for several different retailers to experience different levels of management. Now I’m on the School Leaver Programme at M&S.
5. What is your proudest moment – in work and outside of work?
In work, it would be making it onto the scheme; as well as planning and launching big events for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Outside of work, it was making it onto the Suffolk County badminton team and winning the UK Men’s Doubles competition. This is something I spent years training for, so I’m extremely proud of the achievement.
6. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Any feedback is good feedback’. I don’t know where the advice came from but it’s been a mantra for me for as long as I can remember. If feedback is positive, it keeps you motivated. If it’s constructive, it tells you were you need to improve. If it’s negative, you take it on the chin; it helps you to grow and become a stronger person.
7. Tell us something unexpected about you.
I can wiggle my ears and I have hyperextended knees (they flex backwards further than normal).
Pointless skills on paper; but can be great conversation starters to break the ice.
8. What are the most important things to you in life – aside from family and friends?
My first car: a classic 1972 VW beetle. It’s currently hibernating in the garage. But it’s taken me to many different places and been part of lots of memories, so it has huge sentimental value. Aside from this, my snowboard collection is something I cherish. I snowboard weekly and love the rush of adrenaline from hurling myself down a slope on a slither of wood at 50 mph. Adrenaline is what makes me tick.
9. What would you be doing now if you hadn’t made it onto the School Leaver Programme?
My plan B would have been to continue to progress in retail. I had looked into doing my Level 4 NVQ in Management just prior to getting onto the scheme. But that wouldn’t have provided the same opportunities to progress as M&S.
10. Which M&S value – Innovative, Inspiration, In Touch, Integrity – do you most identify with and why?
In Touch is the value that I connect with most. I’m very personable and people orientated; I really enjoy putting customers first. I love the sense of satisfaction I get from resolving a customer dilemma or working with my team to achieve a common goal.
11. What motto do you live your life by?
I have a few:
‘Do the best you can do in whatever you’re trying to do and never give up. Success is not by chance it’s by choice’.
‘When you love what you do, you’ll never ‘work’ another day in your life’.
‘Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.’ Those are the wide words of Master Yoda from Star Wars.
12. You’re cast adrift on a desert island: choose one song to inspire you in your solitude; one personal possession to console you in it; and one M&S product that you simply couldn’t do without.
This is a tricky one. For the song, I’d bend the rules slightly and take my saxophone with me to play several different songs to inspire me. The personal possession I’d take would be lots of paper with a pen, envelopes and stamps discretely hidden inside and hope that a letterbox and postman had also been washed ashore. Then, I could write home to loved ones. My M&S item would be a bag of potatoes. I could cultivate them and grow sand potatoes, so I could adapt and live a happy life eating spuds on what, hopefully, would be a very scenic postcard-worthy island.
More from Graduate IT Business Analyst, Sophie
After starting her Business Analyst career in another sector, Sophie leapt at the chance to apply for our graduate scheme when she saw it advertised online. So, has saying yes to M&S lived up to her expectations?
“I never thought I’d end up as a Business Analyst. I studied Business Management at the University of East Anglia, but at that time I was thinking about law, sales, consultancy, things like that. Then I got a Business Analyst job in a construction company. I enjoyed the role, but wasn’t particularly interested in the industry. Retail was something I could better relate to and M&S is such an iconic brand. When I saw the scheme online I knew I had to apply.
“I’m so thankful I did! I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d been accepted. I don’t think I appreciated just how much I wanted the job and how nervous I’d been waiting to hear the news. I felt such a sense of achievement and couldn’t wait for my first day.
“When that day came along, it was packed with activities and everyone was really welcoming. No need for first-day nerves. And I was quickly encouraged to find my own feet by my manager in my first rotation. ‘Fail fast and fail often’ is a saying used at lot at M&S. Making mistakes is fine as long as you learn from them.
“A great thing about the M&S graduate scheme is that you get to choose the business areas you complete your three rotations in, which means you’re more in control of your own development. I’m currently working in Foods IT on the implementation of a new Product Lifecycle Management system. Once up and running, this will enable the Foods team to manage new products from conception through to post-launch review.
“My role is so varied, I love it. There are always different problems to solve. You spend so much time learning about new areas of the business, it’s impossible to get bored! Plus this exposure has given me a better appreciation of the M&S organisation as a whole, as well as the transferability of my own skills. I feel like I’d be perfectly comfortable starting a new job in a business area I have no experience in.
“One of the reasons for this is that I’ve been constantly encouraged to focus on my personal development – attending courses and getting involved is as many activities as possible outside of my day job. There is a very positive company-wide attitude to continuous improvement. It’s up to you to get outside your comfort zone and make the most of it.
“You’ll be glad you did. From my perspective, the past year has been the best of my career, by an absolute mile. I’ve learnt so much and had some amazing experiences. I feel well prepared for work after the scheme and am looking forward to putting my skills to good use. I’m hoping to move quickly through the three Business Analyst levels, then perhaps take on a Product Ownership role. I’m keen to move around the business and not stay in one place too long. I want to keep learning as much as possible.”
Has Sophie's story inspired you? View our graduate career opportunities here.Inside M&S
Getting to know... Sophie
Everyone that works at M&S is an individual. That’s why we hired them. We spotted something in them that made us say yes to them. Behind every person in every role is a personality. Meet Sophie.
1. Tell us your biggest ambition.
It’s my absolute dream to travel around the world for a year. I love the idea of jumping on a plane with no particular plans. I adore travelling and experiencing new cultures, especially the food! I have been lucky enough to travel to India as part of the M&S graduate scheme, visiting the offices of one of our IT partners. It was amazing and has only fuelled the travel bug!
2. Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who is passionate about what they do, whatever that may be. The people in my life who put in 100% definitely make me feel driven to push myself that little bit harder.
3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor but I’m incredibly squeamish, so I wouldn’t have lasted very long!
4. What do you see as your major strength?
Empathy. I like to think about things from other peoples’ perspective. It’s an important trait in my job as a Business Analyst, building strong relationships and understanding different stakeholders’ needs.
5. What is your proudest moment – in work and outside?
Out of work: I got married last year. It’s true what they say: it was the best day of my life so far. I felt amazing to be called a wife… not to mention grown up!
At work, I took part in the Prince’s Trust Movement to Work scheme, acting as a buddy for two young people. The scheme is a collaboration of UK employers tackling youth unemployment. My two candidates spent 4 weeks with M&S on work experience, visiting different areas of the business. One of my buddies was offered a permanent position at us as a result of the scheme. I felt so proud of her!
6. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Who gave it and how have you put it to good use.
My mum always taught me to treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself. Classic advice but it has always stuck with me. People are always much more willing to help you if they feel as though you would do the same for them.
7. Tell us something unexpected about you.
I’m a Platinum Chief Scout. I love the outdoors and have been part of the association since I was 12. I’ve done some incredible things as a Scout – my favourites being expeditions to South America and Iceland. It’s also where I met my husband so I have very fond memories.
8. What are the most important things to you in life – aside from family and friends (that goes without saying).
I am a very results-oriented person. It’s important to me to do things to the best of my ability and I like to see the fruits of my labour. If I don’t, I can get a little disheartened.
9. Which M&S value – Innovative, Inspiration, In Touch, Integrity – do you most identify with and why?
I would say integrity. Like I said, I think it’s important to behave the way you would want others to. Act with integrity and hopefully others will follow suit. It is a firm foundation to build upon when striving for the remaining values.
10. What motto do you live your life by?
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.Inside M&S
Let's talk about the B word
“Before M&S, I’d spent a lot of time hiding behind my work in environments whose culture didn’t lend itself to the idea of being yourself. Having got the right help, I was able to get back to the point where I was happy with who I am, and able to come out as bi. When I joined M&S, I didn’t want to have to feel like I was hiding again. So discovering the LGBT+ network during my induction was amazing. Finally, I’d found a workplace where I could be me.”
September 23rd was the 18th year of the annual Bi Visibility Day – a day to raise awareness of the ‘B’ in LGBT+. To mark this date, we spoke to Bryn, a PCI Manager in the Cyber Security Compliance team at Stockley Park, about his experiences of coming out as a bisexual man and how he has found life at M&S.
“To me, Worldwide Bi Visibility Day is an opportunity to talk about bisexuality – highlighting the lack of visibility in the media and the arts, and underscoring the message that being bi isn’t a stepping stone on the way to coming out as lesbian or gay.
“Coming out was a fairly late experience for me. I’d largely ignored my sexuality through my late teens and twenties out of fear of what it might mean. I tried distracting myself by burying myself in work, which led to a vicious cycle where I’d end up thinking about it, resolve to explore it some more, chicken out, hate myself a bit more, then dive more into my work.
“Things came to a head (as they invariably do), and I ended up in a bad way – which included some severe physical symptoms. I sought help from a counsellor, and came to realise that burying parts of myself wasn’t a healthy thing to do. My fear over what people might say about me was stopping me from finding out who I was – which was making me miserable.
“My counsellor encouraged me to start taking improv classes, which helped me get out of my own way. These forced me to stop over-thinking and embrace the moment, and accept that there isn’t always a right answer. That approach spilled over into the rest of my life, and I came to realise what I’d been burying away for so long. I came out to friends, and found a new level of happiness, a freedom from the fears that had been weighing me down for so long.
“This happened just before I joined M&S. I came into the company having made a start on this journey, and one of my fears was having to hide myself away again. I’d worked in companies whose culture didn’t lend itself to the idea of being yourself – carrying an expectation to look and act a certain way.
“Finding out about the LGBT+ network was a revelation. I then met Leanne, Scott and Jon (M&S LGBT+ ambassadors), and was really encouraged by what they were doing. They (and everyone else) deserve masses of praise for the great work they’ve put in and what they’ve achieved – both in public and behind the scenes. For me, I think it’s important that we can support the whole LGBT+ spectrum, and I’m really proud to be able to play a small part.
“Since coming out and joining M&S, I’ve been asked if it’s a good LGBT employer. I’m not sure I can answer. It certainly is for me, but, then I work in the HQ bubble and part of an excellent team. I see an amazing foundation, and built in a sustainable way, which makes me confident there’s a firm commitment to create an open and inclusive workplace.Inside M&S