What useful skills did you pick up from your degree?
There are many transferable skills that I have picked up from my degree, I think there is a good match of skill sets between Engineering and Supply Chain. The most useful skills I have picked up are presentation skills, communication skills, problem solving, process mapping and process improvement techniques, project management and working as a team.
Did you do any work experience whilst at university?
My course was a sandwich course, so at the end of my second year I spent a year in industry working in the Business Excellence Department for Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery. I returned the following summer for a 12 week summer placement where I was given my own project to re-design the process for customer turbine overhauls and the shop-floor layout.
My industrial experience was invaluable to me, it gave me practical experience of the theory I learned in my final two years as well as added motivation to obtain the best possible degree.
Did you join a formal graduate scheme when you finished university?
I joined the L’Oreal graduate scheme and finished the scheme a year later. The scheme typically lasts one year and involves three four-month stages (placements), which allow you to work in different divisions and gain experience in different business functions.
On the work side, I was given real responsibility, working on high-profile projects in different divisions of the business.
As I was on the supply chain scheme, I requested to have two supply chain stages, one in product planning (based in London) and the other in physical distribution in one of our Manchester distribution centres. This enabled me to experience the whole of the UK supply chain.
For my third stage I wanted a different experience so I had a commercial stage in a different division. This experience was completely new to me and put me out of my comfort zone. I picked up new skills and also strengthened in areas that I wanted to develop.
The graduate scheme gave me experience in supply chain and commercial that is invaluable to the role that I am doing now.
On the positive side, it isn’t all work and no play! On the social side there are lots of other graduates that are on the scheme with you who soon become friends. During your induction, social events are organised so that you get to know everyone on the graduate scheme outside of work.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am a Supply Chain Executive, I spend part of my week at our customer’s head offices and part of my week at L’Oréal. My main responsibilities include maintaining the forecasting and master data on our customer’s system, placing our customer’s orders for them, planning all L’Oreal activity for our customer from a Supply Chain point of view and maximizing our mutual KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).
My other main responsibilities are to build collaborative relationships between L’Oréal and our customer’s departments in order to drive process improvements and to identify and implement projects that will improve service levels, on-shelf availability and reduce logistics costs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The thing that I enjoy most is that it is challenging. My role is new within L’Oréal and this means that I have a great deal of autonomy and there are lots of opportunities to make improvements.
What’s the most demanding part of the job?
Probably the fact that I am a supplier that works in a customer’s environment. I am performing the same role as our customer’s employees and so to justify my role I have to perform.
Being customer facing is a challenge that I enjoy, however it can be difficult at times to manage their expectations.
Is there much chance to travel with your work?
Definitely. Within the UK I regularly travel to our distribution centre in Manchester, customer head offices and various other locations for training exercises (e.g. Sandbanks, Cranfield University). There are opportunities to travel internationally too, I have been on training courses in Paris and attended the Garnier Maybelline UK annual conference in Ibiza.
Do you have any advice for graduates?
You have to be passionate about the industry and about what you do. Research thoroughly and prepare properly.
What qualities do you need to succeed in your job?
- Good at relationship management.
- Be responsive, flexible and able to multi-task.
- Develop your problem-solving skills.
- Be able to perform detailed analysis.
- Have the ability to think laterally.
- Have integrity, you have to gain the trust of the customer.
- Good organisational skills.
What does the future hold?
I hope to have a successful career in L’Oréal and be part of the team that takes our supply chain to the next level. There are exciting times ahead in our supply chain and I want to be part of them!