Ruth Evans – Life on a Graduate Scheme
Having recently completed the two year commercial graduate scheme, I feel incredibly lucky to have achieved so much and had so many amazing experiences.
From the very first day in store I was confident this graduate scheme would provide me with brilliant stretching opportunities, allowing me to take ownership of projects from the offset. My focus in store was managing Christmas, including hiring Christmas temps and liaising with our supply chain function to ensure the correct stock allocations were delivered on time. Working in store provides such a fantastic opportunity to get to know how our customers shop, particularly learning which promotions best engage individuals, what items people cross shop and how shopping habits change when people are buying for themselves vs others.
Moving to the Boots head office in Nottingham was incredibly exciting, exposing me to a completely new working environment and group of colleagues. My team were fantastic from the beginning, providing me with plenty of support and opportunities to showcase my skills. Working as an Assistant Buying Manager on Cough Cold was incredible, having the autonomy to implement price changes, product offers and the over-arching Winter Plan for healthcare.
Working on such a large project allowed me to vastly extend my network, having worked with marketing, merchandising and in-store design teams, to name just a few!
Developing relationships with numerous suppliers was one of my favourite parts of trading, adapting negotiation styles to suit different individuals and co-creating business plans to grow both businesses. In doing so Boots’ Cough Cold market share improved over the season which was fantastic to witness
My next steps involved moving over to the brand function in the New Year, working on developing innovative products within the incontinence category. With focus placed on both the UK and US markets I loved being able to adapt marketing styles to suit both audiences and learn how the differing healthcare systems impacted consumer shopping habits so drastically. Since April my role has changed to focus on the Eyecare category: redesigning existing products, launching new products and repositioning the brand in the market. Working on such a complex category keeps me on my toes!
What I enjoy most about this role is the fantastic team I work with, including those who source the products in the market, the project manager and regulatory team. Developing strong links within any role is of vital importance!
My time with Boots has not just been role focused, as I’ve obtained a real passion for developing individuals, be it through 121 coaching or orchestrating team away days. The fantastic training courses you attend on the graduate scheme, focused on understanding what motivates individuals and how your personality preferences can shape your approach to work, definitely sets you up to share these learnings with wider teams, helping colleagues develop these skills too.
Looking back over my time on the graduate scheme my top three tips for success would be:
- Network! A fantastic network not only helps you learn about various parts of the business but also ensures you have a wide range of people you can contact when you need help on a project or advice on a particular challenge. The wider the network the more insights and perspectives you can get, exposing you to new thought processes.
- During store placements get as much exposure to various parts of the business as possible. The way individuals shop the beauty fixtures compared to healthcare can be completely different! Understanding your consumer inside out will definitely set you up for success when working on projects which influence product pricing, designs and marketing strategies.
- In addition to your day to day role, make sure you get involved in additional projects. Organising a team away day, mentoring colleagues or taking on a project separate to your day to day role will give you a fantastic opportunity to practice a wider range of skills and expand your network.