1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My day-to-day role involves managing the Product Assortment of different categories within Retail Supply - I am currently working on Baby. I manage the New Product Development forecasting and promotional forecasting as well as NPD set-up. I work with internal (other supply teams i.e. ordering, and commercial teams i.e. Trading) to do this and also external stakeholders (i.e. suppliers) to try and set up products right first time to create sensible stock decisions and also excellent customer availability.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Yes - nearly all the skills I have and use currently have been build throughout my time on the apprenticeship. I have learnt how to build collaborative relationships, system availability and also strong supply chain knowledge. I can project manage both end-to-end and functionally split supply chain and have been given a lot (probably far too much) responsibility.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
It's totally different on a daily basis to be honest. I enjoy the responsibility we have and I like the mixture of corporate and academic work experience but it is very difficult to manage both. I work 40 hours a week and apart from our 1-2 recall days a month, I do not get any time within my work hours to complete my apprenticeship which is clearly very difficult to manage. In the end I believe it will have been worth it but you end up working at least 60 hour weeks due to needing to sacrifice your personal time for studying - this is not good for my mental health.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
With my first and second year, the university was incredibly disorganized and it was honestly a wonder I passed my modules. Within my 3rd year, things are much improved but I still find a lot of the administrative side of things (i.e. content on the VLE, assignment dates/recall dates) change a lot which is very difficult to manage on top of job commitments. I feel as though I can't really trust the info we receive from the uni a lot of the time as it changes so much. Also, the uni and my work are totally separate and neither seem to understand the pressure the other puts on me which makes the program feel VERY disjointed.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have received good support from my employer with things related to my role - i.e. through training and support with work projects etc. However with regards to my university responsibilities, apart from getting 'released' on my uni days to attend my recall days I receive next to no support.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
I would say the support is there but it can be really difficult to access, especially as I work full-time - it is difficult to fit any university meeting around my work commitments as the meetings are all only available Monday-Friday when I am at work, and I do my uni work at the weekends. I feel the academic support is minimal, but I suppose that is the experience you have when studying in higher education.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
It provides an academic perspective which is refreshing for me, but I feel as my uni and work are so separate from each other, and my employer isn't really interested in my apprenticeship I don know if its helped me to perform better. It's helped me build skills like time management etc. but outside of that, I am not sure. Also, as my job role is very niche, I find fewer things link as my course is general business but I believe there are things I have learnt in my qualification that will help me in future.
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.)
There are charity events to get involved in, sometimes there has been sports events (pre-covid) and networking events. However since working from home I feel we have been a bit neglected and I almost feel like the business has tried to make our wfh experience bad because they are SO keen for usto return to the office.
9a. Would you recommend Boots to a friend?
I would, with a pinch of salt, I think it is a great first business to work in with some amazing opportunities to get involved in like training and apprenticeships but it is a very high-stress culture with minimal opportunities for progression role and salary-wise which is he negative side of things.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Boots?
Understand the mission and vision of the company, have a can-do attitude, and be very positive at work. Be ready for change and you need to be agile to this change! Also, really give everything a go as there are some good opportunities to get involved in if you just say yes.