1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Commercial apprentices at Nestle spend six months working in each of the following: Marketing, Sales, CCSD (Category and Channel Sales and Development) and Supply Chain. Then they choose a role to specialise in in their third year based on their strengths, preferences and the business needs.
My first role was in the category management team. On a daily basis, this involved utilising databases, analysing and presenting data, tracking product performance and sharing with the business and working on retailer-specific projects. In addition, I attended conferences and training days in London as well as attending a meeting at the head office of a major retailer.
My current role is in the seasonal and gifting team within marketing. I support assistant brand managers in looking after budgets, working with design agencies and approval processes, both approving artworks myself and ensuring they have been approved by all the relevant members of the business. In the future I am going to be given responsibility for some projects regarding new seasonal products from a marketing perspective.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
In my first placement, I learnt and developed many skills around data analysis. I learnt how to utilise various programs and websites that the business uses to access data as well as how to find the cause of any patterns or changes in the data, how to make recommendations based on data and how to utilise data to evidence recommendations when presenting.
Throughout both of my placements so far I have developed my presentation skills. I have been given the opportunity to present to senior leaders in the business on numerous opportunities which has pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped my confidence. Prior to these presentations, my line managers and colleagues were more than happy to coach and provide feedback on the content of my presentation and the way in which I presented myself.
Networking is another skill I have developed since working at Nestle. The nature of the business means that you have to be comfortable talking to a wide range of people and the cross-functional ways of working allow you to gain knowledge of many job roles outside of those you directly work in on the scheme.
There are many more skills I have learnt and developed since working for Nestle, too many to list!
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I thoroughly enjoy the programme. I am given lots of responsibility which allows me to feel like I am really contributing to the business and the teams don't treat you any differently to anyone else for being an apprentice. There are lots of similar-aged people in the business on the same or similar schemes and I look forward to university weeks as a break from the office and to spend time with friends I've made on the same scheme but on different sites.
Obviously, the scheme is hard work and it can occasionally be difficult juggling work responsibilities and university, especially if you are comparing yourself to friends who are at uni full time! I fully feel that these sacrifices will be worth it in the long run though.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The general structure of the programme works well - four six month rotations then a year specialising in a role of your choice. It allows for experience of many different areas of the business, which will be useful in any role you may choose to work in in the future. We are informed of when university weeks are well in advance and hotels are always pre-booked so there is plenty of time to organise anything you've got going on in your day job before you're out of office for the uni block.
However, sometimes not enough roles are ready when we rotate. This has resulted in some apprentices not knowing what their role will be in advance or even not having a role at all for a couple of weeks or having a new role created which limits their ability to feel that they are contributing to the business. In addition, since the HR rotation was replaced with a CCSD rotation in September 2018, some apprentices have found that their CCSD and Sales roles were very similar. Hopefully these two rotations will become more distinguishable over time.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The day-to-day support from the teams I have worked in has been fantastic. My colleagues are more than happy to take time out to explain things to me and I am comfortable asking any questions I might have. They accommodate for things like university weeks and any time you might need on the job to complete assignments etc., but also don't treat you any differently to other members of the team.
In terms of the Academy who run and facilitate the schemes, contact from them is quite rare. Sometimes it seems that there are communcation issues regarding information that the Academy believe apprentices we should know that they have not communicated to us. Some apprentices have raised concerns to the Academy and it has been difficult to see what has been done to act on these concerns. It would be nice if the Academy could put in some kind of regular catch-ups with apprentices to keep in contact after the intial induction and to work together on any issues. That being said, there are many things the Academy do very well, such as facilitating welcome days, assessment centres, inductions and open evenings.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
The support from Sheffield Hallam is of a high standard. We have access to all the same materials and resources as full-time students, including online library resources and access to module content on their portal. Lecturers are always happy to answer any questions, either during the week or are easily contactable via email when back at work. Assignment marks are always posted on time and again are easily accessed online. Feedback is always given on assignments which helps when writing them in the future. In addition, we are clear on who our course leader is and who our organisational/admin and pastoral contacts are and can easily contact them any time.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
The variety of roles experienced whilst rotating on scheme matches the variety of topics covered at university. Modules are usually either directly linked to either one of the rotational functions or business in general. Thanks to the cross-functional way of working at Nestle, modules are often applicable even if you have not completed the rotation that it links to yet. For example, there were aspects of the supply chain module I have just completed that I could relate to my current role in marketing.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
Social events are organised at team, department and business levels, both through "away days" during working hours as well as meals and drinks which are organised amongst coworkers. There are some activities hosted on-site such as language lessons, talks from external speakers on a wide range of topics and soon there will be a gym on the York site with classes which will be free for employees to use. There are lots of events and conferences with opportunities to network both internally and externally.
9a. Would you recommend Nestle to a friend?
Nestle is a great place to work where you really feel that your colleagues want to see you succeed. Line mangers and colleagues are always happy to support you with specific tasks as well as developing skills long-term. A lot of trust is put into you, allowing you to manage your own time and work hours that work best for you or even to work from home. Everyone is viewed as part of a team that works hard to make the business great and hard work is always rewarded.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Nestle?
Research the company's history and values Have a good understanding of the broad range of products Nestle manufactures Be honest and be yourself throughout the application process Make sure you are ready to work hard! At assessment centres, relax and be yourself but also remain professional Be ready to fully throw yourself into the scheme for three years
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