24 April, 2015

It doesn’t have to be learn OR earn – it can be both

“Hi my name’s Helen and I’m responsible for Future Talent recruitment at Marks & Spencer.  This encompasses both graduate and school leaver recruitment.

“Many people believe that achieving a university degree is the best way to become highly employable. Sometimes that’s true, (from time to time it merely comes in handy) but in many cases, employers are looking for candidates with ambition, knowledge, skills and experience. It’s something not commonly discussed with students about to finish school, even though they’re often the ones worrying  the most about whether they’ll be accepted into university, or what they’ll do if they don’t succeed. But how many teachers and careers advisors are having conversations with students about the alternative options to going to university? For some students, they’re simply not interested in continuing full-time study – or in doing so just yet. For others, university just isn’t an option.

“Whatever the reasons, there are a host of unnoticed or under-valued alternatives available to these students. Options like apprenticeships, industrial placements, and school leaver programmes. The benefits of taking up one of these schemes are numerous and begin with earning a wage while you’re learning – both on the job and formally. There are also the benefits of learning new skills, meeting new people, travelling, and gaining the confidence and capabilities that come with working with people older and more knowledgeable than you.

“Take our school leaver programme for example. Targeting ambitious, bright, talented school leavers, the programme takes place in their stores, nationwide, and enables young people to develop into future Commercial Managers. Over 12-18 months, school leavers develop new skills, are coached by mentors and given responsibilities that will challenge their perceptions of how far they can go. And they receive a fantastic benefits package for it too. By the end of the programme, they’re ready to take on responsibility for multi-million pound budgets and the line management accountability for a team of Section Managers and Customer Advisors. It gives you learning, knowledge and experiences that a university degree cannot offer. In fact, some of the most senior people and Board Directors at M&S began their careers this way.”

Our scheme has just opened for those able to start work in September 2015.  To find out more, or to apply, click here.


Inside M&S
7 April, 2015

From the Army to the frontline of retail

“I’m Mark, Programme Manager for M&S Food Hall roll-out. Before I joined M&S, I spent time in the Army and when I knew my time serving Queen & country was coming to an end, I was adamant that I wasn’t going to accept just anything. I wanted a career that would be as varied and interesting in its own way than the one I had experienced, and I certainly haven’t been disappointed with M&S.

“The scope and diversity are endless. Every day is different and I’ve been involved in some really large projects. I spent 12 months as a graduate trainee in Bath before becoming Menswear Manager at Cribbs Causeway store, running my own business unit and team. From there, I became Deputy Store Manager at Oxford store, where I was involved in one of our first modernisation projects, before taking on my first store manager job in Banbury.

“After this I went to the south coast to project manage the opening of our 100,000 sq. ft. Castlepoint store. Then it was to the bright lights of London to manage The Pantheon store on Oxford Street, which underwent a complete redevelopment during the time I was there. After a spell as Store Manager of our Handforth Dean store in Cheshire, I moved to head office as Head of GM Operations. Earlier this year I moved into Property as Programme Manager for our Food Halls.

“It’s been fantastic working in so many different areas of the business. My experiences at The Pantheon and Castlepoint will always stick in my memory and M&S has been brilliant supporting my development with some great mentors and role models. There are so many good things about M&S – the responsibility and projects you’re given to work on, the hardworking but fun culture, the different people you meet and, of course, the legendary Scotch eggs we sell in the Deli!”

Inside M&S
7 April, 2015

Eighteen years of business change, personal progress – and discounts on Sauvignon Blanc

“Hi, I’m Lesley, a graduate recruit back in 1997 and now Head of People Planning at M&S. I’d worked in the service industry since I was 14, so when I graduated it was a logical move to apply to M&S. It all went well during the recruitment process and I started in stores, including a stint at Marble Arch. The graduate scheme gave me a really good grounding in the technical aspects of retail and I was given some stretching assignments that were the making of me.

“I then progressed to regional roles and became an HR Business Partner. Various project or retail support roles followed and now I’m in my first central HR position, leading, developing and managing our HR and People Plan. I work with everyone in the HR Group so I get a fantastic overview of everything that’s happening in the business.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to stay at M&S for this long but the reason I have is because they always seem to find a new opportunity to me. I’ve always had a career plan, but some of my most rewarding roles in terms of personal development have been identified by a line manager. I’ve been fortunate to have had some great line managers and mentors, and M&S has supported me in getting my CIPD qualification and Fellowship upgrade.

“Life for me has never been boring at M&S. I’ve progressed well in my career and met some great people – colleagues quickly become friends. I love the values and ethics of the M&S brand. And the discounts come in handy too. 20% off wine is a bonus and I tend to bulk buy my favourite Kaituna Blue Sauvignon Blanc!”

Inside M&S
7 April, 2015

Experiencing the buzz of a multi-cultural business

“Hi, I’m Valerie and I’m Head of HR for M&S in Europe. What’s great about M&S is that HR here really is about people – the company truly cares about its employees, believes wholeheartedly in building relationships and rewards what they put in to deliver a great customer experience. It’s my job to partner our Regional Director for Europe to deliver a great HR service to our employees in Europe. That means I’m going from country to country, store to store, seeing our business at the sharp end. It’s fascinating working with people from lots of different cultures, it gives me a real buzz.

“I’d worked in the banking and hotel industries before the opportunity to work for M&S came along. It was a great chance for me to move into retail and I was excited by the plans M&S had for international growth and the part I could play in making them happen. I walked into the job with my eyes open. I knew challenges would be thrown at me, and doors would open for me, but that’s what I like – after all, I did once climb a volcano in Guatemala and I never pass by an opportunity to explore the world!

“I started my M&S career as an HR Business Partner in Property and Corporate Governance as well as supporting the Head of HR for International. I was promoted to my current role when we introduced a new regional business structure. How would I sum up my role? I would say it’s about integrity, people development and thinking commercially. I’m really proud of the European HR team I’ve built, they’re a fantastic bunch of people, and I’ve made some great friends over the years.”

Inside M&S
7 April, 2015


Last year was a busy year for M&S Graduates. We’ve met heaps of you on campus up and down the country at career events, workshops and through our #Dress2Impress Shwopping event. This saw hundreds of graduates dress up our live mannequin for special situations, ranging from job interviews to date nights. The end result? Close to 5,000 applications for our ever-popular graduate schemes – and some very imaginative looks for our mannequin.

Applications for our graduate schemes will re-open later in the year. However, you can still find out more about the opportunities available at M&S ahead of applications re-opening. To make that even easier, we have opened a WhatsApp channel for you to contact us via. Simply add ‘M&S Careers’ as a contact on your Smartphone with the number 07834 335603, and we will respond to your careers related questions on-the-go. 

Inside M&S
2 April, 2015

Perfecting our baked goods

Product Developer Jenny, really likes hot cross buns. It’s a good job she does, because as Marks & Spencer’s chief hot cross bun taster, she has to munch her way through thousands every year.

“You can get sick of them,” she admits, when I ask how she isn't possibly bored of scoffing the traditional Easter treats. “But I love them, so it’s not such a chore.”

Jenny, is the retailer’s product developer for baked treats – meaning that no flapjack, muffin or biscuit hits M&S's shelves before she’s tasted them. She started at the firm well over a decade ago as a lingerie buyer, "buying knickers and vests", but gradually worked her way up into her real passion: food development.

When it comes to hot cross buns – of which Marks & Spencer expects to sell above 30 million this year, a third of the total amount consumed by the nation – Jenny starts planning for the next year's range before Easter is even over. “The week before Easter, I’m looking at competitors' products – there are about 36 hot cross buns I’ll be trying,” she says. “Last year, it turned into quite a mammoth eating session. It’s daunting, but it’s exciting to see what's out there.”

Jenny and her team then come up with around 30 different ideas, before whittling them down to less than 10. After that, the recipes are formulated – “each product takes about eight recipes to get completely right” – and are tweaked so they are appropriate for mass manufacturing. 

Getting the buns onto the production line is far from the end of the story, however. After quizzing customer panels to see how the buns are received, Jenny chomps her way through each bun at various stages of its life, from freshly-baked, to the day before its expiry date, to make sure they meet standards. She tries them toasted with butter, untoasted without, and after having been frozen. On a busy day, she estimates she can try up to 70.

What does she look for in a perfect hot cross bun? “You should ideally get the lovely sweet doughiness of the bread, the sweetness of the fruits, a hint of background spice that isn't overwhelming," she says. "And not with one spice dominant - cloves can be quite bitter and leave a nasty taste in your mouth.”

Not every flavour she likes comes to market. She has long played with the idea of making a savoury bun, “but it has never really worked out. The spice is such a dominant flavour and getting savoury flavours that work with that spice is hard. You can take the spice out, but then it's not really a hot cross bun”.

Considering she spends all day scoffing sweet treats, does she ever worry about her health or weight? “It's definitely hard, when you’re surrounded by delicious food all the time,” admits Jenny, whose team have a running joke about “the M&S stone” employees gain after joining the firm. “But I definitely don’t always eat the whole bun...”


Find out more about opportunities in Product Development at M&S.

Inside M&S
31 March, 2015

Unfair, we know. Alex eats 130 bars of chocolate a week as our Easter egg taster.

  • This year, she tested the 1.5kg Golden Lattice Egg and Percy the Pig egg
  • The 27-year-old goes to the gym four times a week 'to keep fit and healthy'

It's a job that would make a chocoholic green with envy - eating up to 130 bars of chocolate a week working as an Easter egg tester for Marks & Spencer.

That's what Alex Emerson-White has to munch her way through, consuming up to 13lbs of the brown stuff in just five days - and getting paid for it.

But it's all in a day's work for the 27-year-old, who lives in London, as she travels the world selecting the perfect ingredients for the store's confectionery - most of which is hand-made in the UK and Ireland. 

However, Alex, who so far this year has been testing the luxurious 1.5kg Giant Golden Lattice and children's favourite the Percy The Pig egg, does admit the job does come with a risk - and confesses to going to the gym four times a week to keep off the pounds. 

And, of course, her friends are always asking her for freebies. Alex said: 'It varies in terms of week-to-week but I can eat 50 or 60 pieces of chocolate, it all adds up to about five kilos.

'I go to the gym before work four times a week to keep fit and healthy.'

'But I can't complain, I have a brilliant job where I get to eat chocolate all day. My friends are always asking for samples.'

Alex said she is now planning for Easter 2016 but this year M&S has some star attractions both for the kids and the big kids.

She said: 'This year we thought a lot about giving a single Easter egg rather than as many as possible, especially for the adults.

'This year we have the Limited Edition Giant Golden Lattice Egg. We wanted a show-stopping egg that not only looked amazing but tasted divine.

'We've been working on perfecting the egg for years but the intricate structure and time it takes to make the egg means we can only make so many.

'We've made the chocoholics' dream come true this Easter - make sure you snap it up before it sells out.

'It weighs a whole one-and-a-half kilos and only 7,500 have been created. Each egg takes over an hour to make and is hand-made and decorated by twelve skilled chocolatiers who are trained to work solely on this egg.'


#Easter #Tasting #Chocolate #ProductDevelopment 

Find out more about opportunities in Product Development at M&S. (Although we can’t guarantee a career tasting chocolate – Sorry!)


This article originally appeared on Mail Online 

Inside M&S
23 February, 2015

Why Finance at M&S?

I joined the Finance group at M&S as a graduate after gaining an Economics degree at University of Warwick. I wanted a career in finance and applied to a number of companies including the ‘big 4’ accountancy firms.

M&S appealed because of the fantastic sponsorship they offer graduates to complete either CIMA or ACCA qualifications. Today this is still very competitive, with four days off for each exam, which has helped hundreds of people at M&S attain an accounting qualification.

But the main attraction of M&S was the wide breadth of roles that exist within Finance, thanks to the size of the organisation and a willingness to move people into roles that will broaden their experience. And I haven’t been disappointed. In my 11 years here, I’ve been fortunate to take on a number of great roles within Finance and beyond, including my current role of Head of Finance – International & Marketing. Previously, I have been Head of Group Planning & Reporting, Head of Operations & Finance – Simply Food Division, Investor Relations Manager and Head of Cost & Capital.

We invest a significant amount in developing talented people who can work collaboratively and do the right thing for our customers. In the last few years, I’ve led a programme to accelerate the skills development of people recognised as having High Potential. I now lead a group that manages the talent pool of around 100 qualified accountants. Not only does this group ensure we can provide the best possible development opportunities for our people, but that we can continue to develop talent for the future. It’s a big investment of time but worth it.

The retail industry is very fast paced. Finance isn’t about adding up numbers; it plays an important part in decision-making and innovating to make the business better. In my current role, I get involved in lots of different things from strategic planning, preparing business cases for new stores and other opportunities, funding our International companies, managing costs and identifying opportunities to improve international profit.

No two days have been the same in any of my roles. I wouldn’t have stayed for so long if M&S wasn’t a great place to work with great people, each with their own unique skills and experience.

Discover what we look for in our Finance teams

Inside M&S

Operationele verkoopmedewerker (Customer assistant – Operations)

Operationele verkoopmedewerker (Customer assistant – Operations)

Je bent het kloppend hart van de winkel en zorgt dag in, dag uit voor een vlekkeloze klantenervaring. Je floreert in groepsverband, bent efficiënt en goed in administratie en logistiek.

Daarnaast ben je flexibel en zelfstandig en voel je je zowel op de winkelvloer als in het magazijn als een vis in het water. Magazijn? Geen zorgen, het gaat alleen om het regelen van de temperatuur, het in ontvangst nemen van goederen het aanvullen van artikelen bij de kassa.

Marks & Spencer biedt je de kans om je vaardigheden razendsnel te ontwikkelen en met het bedrijf mee te groeien.

Goede kennis van het Engels is een pre en sluit aan bij de kleuren van de Britse vlag waar ons bedrijf zo trots op is.

Zeg ‘ ja’ tegen teamspirit. 

Where you'll work

Conseiller vendeur opérationnel (Customer assistant – operations)

Support incontournable à la vie du magasin, vous vous employez chaque jour à garantir une expérience client sans faille. Vous aimez le travail en équipe et avez le sens de l’organisation, l’administratif et la logistique n’ont plus de secret pour vous.

Polyvalent et autonome, vous êtes aussi à l’aise en magasin que dans une chambre froide... Enfin pas de panique, on parle ici de contrôle des températures, réception des marchandises, préparations des commandes, réapprovisionnement des zones de caisses, etc.

Marks & Spencer vous offrira la possibilité de développer rapidement vos compétences et d’évoluer dans l’entreprise.

Si vous parlez anglais, c’est un vrai plus pour notre société portant haut et fort les couleurs de l’Union Jack.

Say yes à l’esprit d’équipe.

Where you'll work


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