4 December, 2017

When ambition meets opportunity

A 16-year-old boy stands behind the photo counter at a leading retailer, smiling at customers and chatting away with them as he takes their. memories and goes on to process them. Years later he grows up to become Head of Region at M&S for the Northeast Midlands. His name is Simon and in his role, he’s in charge of leading 20 M&S stores. And it all started with a Business Placement Programme

“I studied Retail Management at Loughborough University. It was a great course with a placement in the third year. So, I joined M&S through the Business Placement Programme and had an amazing year in the Blackpool store. When it came to the end of my year, I decided to stay on in a leadership role whilst I did my final year studies. I was appointed to Fosse Park, Leicester as Late Night Manager. 

After that, my first full appointment was Clothing & Home Commercial Manager at Southport, followed by a number of exciting Store Manager and Commercial Manager roles. I have had the opportunity to lead some amazing teams in Manchester city centre, in our largest store at Cheshire Oaks near Chester and I’ve opened new concept stores, as well as managed store developments. I now hold what I’m proud to call my ‘dream job’. I couldn’t be happier about the way my career panned out. And honestly, it was all thanks to the Business Placement Programme.

I had an amazing placement year. The team in Blackpool was supportive, friendly and behind me along every step of the way. During that year I covered every area in the shop and at 20 years old, I was responsible for a really busy Foodhall during the busiest time of year. I look back on that year with fond memories and at the end of my placement I had enjoyed myself so much that I decided to stay with M&S. 

The programme is a great way to test the waters of retail and it will teach you valuable skills, lessons and professional habits. And it’s a great way for you to experience the vast world of opportunities at M&S. I even left and returned to M&S after a short period, as for me, the difference between M&S and other retailers is how connected the customer is to our brand. From my grandparents, who loved to meet their friends at their local M&S Café, to my mother, who took me and my brother to the M&S in Lancaster – my family has always had a personal connection to the brand. And that’s what we stand for as a business. I don’t think you get that in any other retailers.”

Find out more about the Business Placement Programme, and click here.

Inside M&S