Taking things in your stride
After studying Geography at Durham University, Megan didn’t want to pursue the professional services career routes that were opening up for her. She wanted to do something commercial; something she could relate to. That’s why she chose M&S.
“Basically, at uni, I was being offered three buckets of jobs: accountant; lawyer; or management consultant. I didn’t want to do any of these. If I’m honest, I just stumbled across the M&S Digital Programme and it happened to tick all of my boxes, particularly as it focuses on e-Commerce. Everyone knows M&S. It’s a massive name; it’s a bit like the unofficial member of everyone’s family. What the programme offered was something that was super commercial, challenging and engaging all rolled into one.
“The M&S Digital Programme is still a fairly new thing for M&S. But given digital is so core to our business strategy, it’s a great opportunity to get in there and influence things. I spent my first couple of months in the dotcom logistics team – at Christmas. As you can imagine, this is peak period for us, so it was a bit of a baptism of fire but I learned so much in a very short space of time. Managing all of our international carriers was especially insightful.
“Next up was a stint in the mobile team. Here, I was focused on app development and our mobile site as part of the Womenswear trading team. Essentially, this meant I was the ‘shopkeeper’ for this part of the site, so I was responsible for everything from monitoring sales to making sure products were available. Working closely with buying and merchandising colleagues was the key to this and I also had a lot of contact with on-site production teams.
“My last attachment involved working with the team building our new platform. We were moving away from an Amazon platform to build our own specific M&S platform. This was a massive project with hundreds of millions of pounds spent in development. I spent three months working with a big offshore development team, liaising with onshore counterparts. It was incredibly varied and a huge learning curve.
“I think the biggest take-away from doing the rotational programme was it’s all about taking things in your stride. If you want to pick a programme where you want a really varied set of experiences, you have to be prepared to just roll with it. You have to make sure you get as much as possible out of every attachment. Obviously you won’t end up working in all of the areas you touch but there is a huge benefit to getting such a comprehensive overview. You see how the parts contribute to the whole – which is great. You get to experience what’s involved in making an online business work. You have to be adaptable, you have to be ready to leave your comfort zone.
“The biggest shock to the system was working in the logistics team. This was a lot to do with the timing. It was my first placement and I’d joined just in time for the busiest time for retailers. That was a double whammy. Right from the off, I got to see up close the scope and scale of the M&S operation. It was the toughest and it was the best. I thought if I can handle 2am conference calls two weekends before Christmas, I can handle pretty much anything.
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