7 December, 2018

An M&S Apprenticeship opens all kinds of doors

Matthew Meek is an M&S Apprentice Data Analyst. Nothing too unusual about that. But how many Data Analysts can say they have developed a cake that will be sold in M&S Cafés up and down the country in Autumn 2019? We only know of one. This is Matt’s story.

“It was the brand that drew me here. M&S occupies a unique place in retail and in the hearts and minds of the British public. Not just British actually, now we’re a truly international brand. I joined the business in my apprentice role straight from school after finishing my A-levels. I’d also been working at a high-street mobile phone store, so retail wasn’t completely new to me.

“I knew I’d be in good hands here and M&S has certainly more than lived up to its reputation for doing things with a great deal of thought and care. It’s possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. Working here has surpassed my expectations. I was treated as a fully-fledged member of the team from the word go. Any idea that apprentices are somehow less than anyone else is certainly not true here. I’ve been given useful opportunities to develop and the whole experience has been great. There’s been an emphasis on college coming before work too, as classroom learning is a big part of the apprentice offer.

“As a result, I’m personally hugely pleased with how I’m developing. Currently, I work in Supply Chain and Logistics within the A&R (Allocation and Replenishment) Central Team. Being an apprentice means much of my time is spent learning how to perform the role. This also involves attending college as I’m working towards a Level 4 Data Analysis qualification as part of the scheme. I’m covering a lot of ground on the job too: raising stock orders with suppliers; being an Agile Scrum Master for my team - which involves a lot of project and people management; plus, I perform in-depth routine and ad-hoc analysis for key business stakeholders.

“Obviously it was a bit of a shock to the system going from a medium-sized school to an office containing thousands of people. However, M&S made sure the transition was as smooth as possible. When I started, a plan was set out of what to expect over the course of the programme and who my direct lines of support were. My line manager and others are all incredibly supportive of the programme as a whole and have really helped bed it in.”

So, the question on everyone’s lips is: where does the cake fit in?

“The simple answer is my cake was judged to be the best entry in the Cake Off we held to celebrate the Macmillan Coffee Morning. I’d never baked anything before either. I was gobsmacked. My prize for winning is to have my cake sold at M&S Cafés for a month around the same time next year.

“It’s exciting and feels great. It’s weird to think that soon I’ll be able to go into a store and see something I created, I don’t think it will fully sink in until I actually see it in store. I think it’s amazing that each purchase contributes to such an amazing cause, hopefully it helps to raise a huge amount of money!

“It just goes to show that anything is possible here. The working culture is driven yet still manages to be relaxed when it needs to be. I feel the perfect work-life has been achieved here; people are passionate about delivering results; the business is passionate that this shouldn’t come at the cost of a fully rounded life outside work.”

Inside M&S