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It's early September which means I'm coming to the end of my first year on M&S' brand-new Enterprise graduate programme

Sitting within the transformation team, it gives grads a rare opportunity to take on an 18-month consultative role across a range of different departments. It’s been an extraordinary 12 months—I would never have imagined I’d experience a global crisis in my first year in the workplace—but it’s been a huge learning opportunity with valuable lessons for both me and M&S. In response to the pandemic, M&S has accelerated its transformation and it feels great to be part of that change.

This isn’t just any grad scheme

I've been working in the Ocado Product Setup team—responsible for ensuring our 6,000-strong product range launched seamlessly onto Ocado's website. It's been amazing to work on such a key, strategic project—especially given the surge in the online delivery market during the pandemic—and it felt so good to finally get over the line this week. 

We’ve been busy scrutinising our food offer to deliver a bigger & better range for our customers, with loads of brand-new products. We can't wait to hear customer feedback on them as they arrive on their doorsteps and on our shelves.

Challenge = opportunity

I'm one of 10 Enterprise graduates, from nearly 3000 applicants. 

I applied because it sounded really exciting, and it's definitely lived up to expectations. This is the first year of the scheme, meaning there's no pre-determined path for you to follow—which is one of my favourite things about it; that and the transformation at M&S means there’s so much challenge and opportunity. A great example of this is my Enterprise colleague Chloe, who—thanks to our joint venture with start-up investment vehicle Founders Factory—is starting a Business Development secondment this month at fashion insight start-up Wovn.

Attracting new talent to the fastest-moving place in UK retail

It goes without saying that this has been an incredibly uncertain time for people and I’m really excited that we still have a new cohort of 42 grads joining us this month across all the different streams. 

A group of us recently delivered a presentation to over 8,000 current university students at a virtual internship event organised by the Bright Network; it made us realise that this type of activity is more important than ever. We spoke about our experiences at M&S, the opportunities on offer here, and of course the impact Covid has had on our role as Enterprise grads, for example the transition to remote working. Pre-Covid, I used to work from Ocado’s head office once a week, but of course this all changed in March when everyone began working from home. Face-to-face meetings quickly became virtual meetings, thanks to Microsoft Teams.

And welcoming them.. (virtually)

Our next cohort of Enterprise grads start next week, and we've been busy preparing an action-packed induction schedule for them, ready for virtual delivery via Teams. 

If Covid has taught us anything, it’s how efficient and adaptable our business can be—and having all been fully recruited via Teams over the last few months, the incoming grads are already well-versed when it comes to remote working and the M&S digital-first mindset. 

The grads will benefit from being the first group of colleagues to use our brand-new onboarding app, On Your Marks, which we've created as a one-stop-shop to help all new joiners to the store support centre settle into life at M&S. But of course, it’s not just about the tech; my colleagues and I will be there to support them too. If I could give them one piece of advice, it would be to be adaptable and enthusiastic to change— as there is lots of it! But with change comes the opportunity to learn and build up your experience.

For me, my next role is within the Clothing & Home team. We announced at our full year results that the M& and large stores platforms will be opened to complementary guest brands to broaden appeal and increase online growth and I’ll be playing a part in that. 

It’ll be a great new challenge for me and I'm looking forward to getting started!

Be part of it!