|Biotechnology and Microbiology (with year in europe)|
|Project Management Graduate|
|Engineering and manufacturing|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
More about Philippe
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A day in the life of a Project Management Graduate in the United Kingdom
It's a huge world and you may have all the theory, but it works very differently in practice when money and profit is involved.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
Ocado surprisingly are less of a grocery company and more of a tech company. A large part of the workforce are involved in software and delivering huge £100m+ warehouses that are responsible for picking groceries into the boxes that get delivered to you. There are several cool youtube videos about it online and would highly recommend!
What do you do?
Currently, I'm assisting Projects and driving them forward. This involves doing research, stakeholder communication and relaying information to the right people and reporting back to my senior. In my previous placement, I had full ownership of a couple of projects and had to organise everything from actions, resources as well as some data collection and analysis.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
By sheer accident. I thought I was pretty organised so I applied for Logistics roles for post uni. This job title was listed as 'Logistics Projects' and thought little of it. After 3 weeks in I realised this was in fact, a Project Management scheme but I figured it was more transferable so I had no problem committing.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Entirely. First of all, I had no idea on the variety of jobs available out there and it's difficult for students to make sense out of the large world outside of uni. Ultimately, I don't think any student can truly know what a job sector is like unless they are very very ambitious and have a clear cut vision of what they want to be. There's no shame in embracing the twists and turns that are inevitable for anyone leaving uni.
Describe your most memorable day at work
I was entirely responsible for installing a piece of sensory equipment in a warehouse from start to finish with a supplier. First time doing anything like this. I was their go-to guy for answers (and I definitely didn't have all the answers but they didn't know that) and was in charge of ensuring they installed it to the specification me and boss agreed to and all the equipment needed for installation was ready. The tricky part was there were a string of approvals and processes I needed to follow for suppliers to be on site and it was only on the day itself did I realise I didn't quite get all the authorisation I needed. So it was quite hectic, I had to wing it and whilst the suppliers were getting ready, it was a huge rush having to find a forklift, authorise it for my use, estimate how long I'll need it for, contact operations and tell them how long I'll need to take some machines offline. Thankfully they all complied. Would not recommend taking this route as it was stressful but such a great experience. 10/10 day, but I did work 10 hours that day...
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
Many. You realise how much you don't know about business. It's a huge world and you may have all the theory, but it works very differently in practice when money and profit is involved. Many formalities I'm still learning and grasping and other things such as office politics, managing your manager and never getting enough prep for anything because it's such a fast paced environment.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Extremely fast paced but varies depending on departments. First manager I had was patient and fairly relaxed but current one moves at the speed of sound in contrast. It's impressive to say the least.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I was big into sport, did BUCs and Roses and that took up a lot of my time. In all honesty, it wasn't very transferable but it was fun and that was more valuable looking back. I can easily list a number of things I should have done instead at uni for extra curricular which would have been a massive help to me now, in terms of personal development or career.
What would you like to do next with your career?
Given the current economic climate, I intend to stay at Ocado as they're a very stable company. My previous placement in continuous improvement mirrors the scientific method so I'm interested in doing it again in hopes of rolling off by the time the 2 year grad scheme finishes. Project Management is vastly useful in most fields but I won't assume there isn't a more fitting career path down the road.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Don't go for a job just because of a job title. Sure, investment banking sounds awesome and the salary is amazing but if you're not the kind of person who's already working 60+ hour weeks, then you should question if you want to put yourself through all that.
Sell your potential, above all else. It's a tricky thing to do but your employers aren't looking for a finished product in a grad (unless you want to go into an admin heavy role) but look at how you can develop in the company. It's ok to be underexperienced, but just know there is plenty to learn once uni is over.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Literally anything. Life after uni? Friendships (or lack of) after uni? Financial position, moving to London, office politics, staying healthy, career progression, job market, this likely recession/depression etc.
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