This was my first job after college. When I started, I was a bit nervous, but I was paired with this great buddy – a colleague who took me through everything, answered all my questions and showed me how things were done. Then one day she said she was moving on, and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage without her. But my team believed in me more than I did.
And the thing is, I was fine. I knew more than I thought I did and suddenly I felt in control. I’d be organising a ‘fit session’ where we try out new shoe lines with live models, and I was at the centre of it, chasing samples from overseas suppliers, arranging everything for the meeting. Almost without noticing, I had developed skills in planning, communication and organisation – and these definitely hadn’t been strengths for me before.
I think this is how it works at Marks & Spencer: there are experiences and challenges that keep taking you out of your comfort zone, but there is a great support network. If you’re ever worried about something, you can talk about it openly and your colleagues will help.
Now I’m working in Merchandising for babywear and the focus is much more on the figures. We are using all kinds of systems and tools to show how things are selling now – and predict how they might sell in the future. It’s a different way of looking at the business from Buying, but you really need both perspectives to make the business work.
Meanwhile, M&S is supporting my apprenticeship for a Level 4 Diploma at the Fashion Retail Academy. Every fortnight, I can take a study leave day where I can further my learning by visiting an exhibition or working on my assignments. My current assignment is to create a new babywear range, so it uses pretty much everything I’ve learnt about Buying and Merchandising. And if there is anything I don’t know, I have plenty of colleagues to ask and who are happy to help.
I came to Marks & Spencer because I was passionate about fashion, and I needed a way in. Now, I want to build my career here and see just how far I can go.