3 May, 2019

Why the Data Fellowship was the right choice for Paul

Paul’s been with M&S for three years. He started as a Finance Assistant. Now he’s a Finance Analyst. He’s always been keen to progress. The obvious route for him to do that would be to study for an accounting qualification – CIMA or ACCA. Instead, Paul decided to join our 18-month Data Fellowship, part of our Data Academy. Here he explains why.

Paul’s part of our Finance Master Data team in Business Support. And the key word is data. It underpins everything he does, from dealing with supplier accounts and supporting our Property team in the financial set-up of new stores, to coordinating financial reporting.

“Data is transforming our business,” says Paul. “Everything links back to our digital-first strategy. It’s the way we’re going, in our stores, in online shopping, in the way we work. Our Retailing and Marketing teams might have spearheaded it, but there’s a real atmosphere of change across the business. I see that in my own area. Everyone is looking at what information we have at our disposal and how we can use it better.”

Paul saw a place on our Data Fellowship programme as the ideal preparation for the digital age of retail, rejecting other training routes which he felt didn’t offer as much versatility or as much relevance to his future aspirations. “The Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn something different, something more useful to my current role and career ambitions. People study coding and data science as part of the school curriculum, so this is a fantastic investment for me,” says Paul.

p Much of the Fellowship is online self-learning through a variety of modern, interactive sources. Paul finds that suits him down to the ground. “I can move seamlessly from my day job to online study – I was so relieved I wasn’t handed any hefty textbooks! My manager has been great in giving me the independence to manage my day-to-day work and study on my own. It’s teaching me time management skills, which are invaluable.”

Six months in and Paul has completed the foundation modules of the Data Fellowship. These include programming, statistical analysis and version control. “Coding is the most interesting part. There’s a real satisfaction in creating even the most basic program and watching it run. It inspires you to go out and see what else you can create.”

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