Trainee video profile – Renee

My name is Renee and I am a trainee commercial manager on the A level management training programme.

I chose the programme because I was already working as an advisor in Marks & Spencer and I thought I didn’t want to go to university; I had already decided that wasn’t the way for me – what else can I do to get me to where I want to be in the future? And so I saw an advert for the programme and I thought “that’s it”, so that’s good.

The application process was quite hard – there is an online test and then you have a day of assessment centres which is practical tests – but it is really good in preparing you for what they expect you to do when you are actually doing the job.

On a day to day basis I manage my section managers and plan events. At the moment I am planning Easter at the store I’m in, so I’m making sure we have got an events zone and all the right stock and things that we need for that. I also plan different phases, so when Spring comes in I will plan the layout for that and where all the different products are going to sit as well.

We get training in the form of courses and workshops which we go to outside the shop, so things on HR policies and what to do in case of a fire and things like that. You have workshops outside the shop, which is normally a day which will be led by another manager from another shop and they will tell you all the things you need to know about that, and we also get training while we are working from the other commercial managers in the store on how to look at reports, and how to manage people and things like that. But it is a lot of on-the-job learning, so you will be asked to do a job and then if you don’t know there’s people around that will help you do it and complete it.

The training that I have received has really helped me develop personally. I was quite a shy person before I started and it has really helped me become more outgoing in interacting with other people and it has also helped me in giving and receiving feedback because you have to do that quite a lot - so obviously taking feedback on board so I can develop but also giving it to other people as well.

The working environment is really good; all the people at work are really nice and it’s really good when you go into work and there’s all the trainees there, so you have someone you can relate to if you are having a bit of a stressy day without having to worry about seeing like one of the commercial managers. I have made some really good friends actually, and one of my best friends now works on the course as well so we do go for drinks and stuff after work, so it gets like a uni experience of making friends with people of similar age with similar experiences but without horrible debt.

I think the skills you need to do well are obviously to like working in retail. It is quite a different area to working in an office; you do stand up all day and you are in front of customers all the time, but apart from that I think as long as you are prepared to work hard to get to where you want to go then it is definitely the right thing to do.

The best thing about working for Marks & Spencer for me is knowing that you are working for a company that’s trying loads of different things and loads of innovations like Plan A, and things like that are really trying to help the environment. It interests me personally and I think it is really good to know you are working for a company that’s not just out there for themselves.

My main piece of advice for anyone thinking of working or applying for the programme is to ask - if you work at Marks & Spencer obviously your HR manager - just to find out a bit about it. I know I have had people that wanted to apply get into contact with me, and I think it is good to be able to talk to someone that’s already been through it to know what to expect.

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