Stuart Rae

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Customer Development Manager, Johnson & Johnson

It seems like a lifetime ago now that I applied to come to Lancaster. Coming from a small town in Cumbria, I knew that university was going to be a massive step. Lancaster’s collegiate system stood out for me as it gave the opportunity to be part of something smaller than the whole University. I am a proud member of Lonsdale College and the sense of belonging really helped me to settle in.

Lancaster’s BBA programme was another main attraction. The teaching is absolutely first class and I have learnt many varied skills in my time here.

Over the first two years, I studied modules in Management, Accounting, Economics, Statistics, Operations Management and Entrepreneurship. The beauty of the four-year degree is that I have had the chance to try out those skills in the working world and have now been able to tailor my final-year modules to exactly what I want to do in the future.

My placement search was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, with many ups and downs. However, Lancaster has fantastic links with many top employers and a great support network within the Management School to provide help and guidance all the way along. One employer with whom Lancaster has close links is Johnson & Johnson, and I accepted a placement there, starting in July 2007.

For the next fourteen months, I was given real responsibilities and treated as an employee rather than a placement student. I worked in Customer Development and was given direct contact with some of the UK’s largest pharmaceutical wholesalers.

Johnson & Johnson acquired Pfizer Consumer Healthcare during my placement year and also introduced the SAP system, so the business went through massive change whilst I was there, providing me with insight into how a multinational corporation works. I am immensely proud of the fact that I was the first ever placement student to receive an award at the end of year conference. It was awarded by the UK Managing Director to recognise my efforts during the first six months of my placement.

Not surprisingly, I was delighted to be offered a job with Johnson & Johnson after I graduated!