Country of origin: United Kingdom
Advertising and Marketing Management student Abbie-Louise worked with GSK for her placement year.
I decided to do a placement year to prepare myself as best as I could for life after University. With Grad Schemes infinitely more competitive, I knew with the experience and development opportunities I would have access to would stand me in a much better position during an application process and when in role. It would also give me the opportunity to discover what roles I would want to do in my future career and what I want from my future employer.
Category management sits within the sales function however it focuses around developing the triple win: delivering commercial and customer objectives whilst also keeping the shoppers at the heart of every decision. My role involved creating essential documents around the performance of the category and from these deducing recommendations to improve performance in a customer through i.e. new listings/de-listings, improving shopper experience and increasing/decreasing promos and distribution. Although my role is very data driven I have thoroughly enjoyed it as it still gave me the opportunity to be creative and even get involved in research. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement year being within a great team and having a fantastic manager. I chose category management knowing that it would be outside of my comfort zone and has allowed me to develop much more than previously anticipated.
Throughout the year I did my regular Category Executive role and also raised £36k for 3 charities in a team of 20 and also managed a work experience student for 3 months. Whilst on placement I took on my own project looking after our brand Horlicks (the malted drink) from a category perspective. Despite being older than the tea bag and larger than Pepsi and Coca Cola combined in India, in the UK it was really struggling due to a lack of relevancy in the market. This made the role of protecting Horlicks in key retailers extremely challenging but developed me the most as a result. I was able to present to Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s which really added value and showed my competency through managing my own project.
I only decided to do a placement at the end of first year so missed the initial training provided by LUMS Careers, however, the various courses in second year equipped me well to understand what to expect from my placement. It was also extremely surprising how my modules throughout studying helped in my role despite it being outside of Marketing or Advertising. Nothing can fully prepare you for entering the workplace for the first time, but you just have to be adaptable and ready to learn and make the most out of opportunities presented to you. I ensured over the year that I would develop my CV from all angles and now I cannot imagine applying for Grad Schemes and future roles without this vital experience.
My placement will allow me to put my practice into theory during my fourth year of study and beyond into my future career. I will be taking my work ethic, presenting skills, soft skills and all my training forward to be able to hit the ground running in my next role.