I started higher education a little later than many of my contemporaries, having taken five ‘gap years’ where I travelled and worked in various roles around the world.
In 2011 I thought it was about time to knuckle down and started thinking more seriously about my career, eventually deciding to study for a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Resource Management at the Scotland's Rural University College.
After a spending a little time searching on the internet, I found an opportunity for a 12 month graduate placement with Stoats through the ScotGrad website and applied. Shortly after, in May 2016, I started as a Multiple Retail Executive for the business who, as you may already know, produce a range of oat based products such as porridge bars, porridge blends and award winning mueslis.
My role with Stoats is fairly varied. I focus on in-store merchandising, developing relationships with key stores, and managing in-store product compliance. More recently, I have been involved with extracting and analysing individual store sales data to identify issues and create regular store visit routes across Scotland. About 80% of my time is spent on the road visiting stores across Scotland, and 20% in the office planning and managing.
One of the most interesting aspects has been turning some of the theory that I learned at university into practice. I’ve been able to make use of the data analysis techniques to look at thousands of data points and pull out what is relevant and useful. Additionally, the business and marketing modules I studied have allowed me to understand a bit more about the type of language and jargon used in business day-to-day.
At the moment, I’m working on a project to change the way that we carry out store visits. Since I joined the company three months ago the list of store I need to be monitoring has doubled from about 500 to around 1000. I have since created custom maps which are connected to useful store data which helps us create efficient routes. I am also developing systematic ways to collect and analyse data from the field visits we carry out to identify and increase their value.
One of the best things about the role is the amount of practical skills I have learned over the last three months. It’s been hugely interesting to learn first-hand what goes into driving forward and maintaining a successful and fast moving Scottish food company. Additionally, I have been put through an Advanced Driver Training Course and a Professional Selling Skills Course courtesy of Stoats.
Another great thing is the social aspect. This is the first time I’ve worked in an open plan office, getting used to that has been interesting! They are a lot of fun, and there’s always a good level of conversation around the office. The contacts I have made and continue to make in this placement give me confidence that I can access a network of knowledge and professionals to help complete projects and explore interests in the future.
The ScotGrad graduate placement with Stoats has given me the confidence to learn and develop myself at a pace which works for me. Knowing I have the ScotGrad network for support is a fantastic employee benefit! I hope to continue to learn and develop my professional skill-set so that I can make the most of any interesting opportunity that comes my way.