Alice Wise

Which company do you work for?

Wolseley UK

What is your job?

Product Sourcing Management Trainee

Where did you go to university and what was your degree?

Business Management and Economics, Nottingham Trent

What was your journey to the Wolseley Management Training Programme?

I graduated in July 2014 and started applying for jobs. Through Discovery Graduates I applied for the graduate scheme with Wolseley and after a telephone interview and two assessment days I was offered the job.

Tell us about your experience of working with Discovery Graduates

In my experience, a lot of recruitment companies just take your details and never hear back – or you apply for jobs and don’t get a response.

Discovery Graduates had a very different approach – they seem to have a focus on finding the right people for the right job. They’re interested in helping and showing you what the options are. I had originally applied for another role that Discovery was advertising but I quickly realised that the industry wasn’t right for me. Rather than just leaving it there, Discovery recognised that my skill set and experience would be suited to the Wolseley graduate scheme and that’s why I am where I am.

Working with Discovery Graduates is reassuring – they followed up after each stage and I knew that they were looking for the right opportunities for me. I had a very good relationship with Jade and I knew that I could ring her at any time.

Tell us about your experience of starting the Wolseley Management Training Programme

It’s a big jump from working part time at university but the experience I gained during my placement year at B&Q was invaluable.

On the Wolseley graduate scheme you start off doing three months ‘in branch’ to get an understanding of the final customer. This was very useful because you understand what is happening in the branches, and how they’re operating, even when you’re back behind the scenes at Head Office.

In December I did my first full stock take – everybody has to do this in their first year – and it wasn’t something I’d experienced before. I’d done some stock take prep at B&Q but I don’t think I was prepared for the amount of work or the level of detail involved! It was a great experience though because I now understand how monitoring your stock affects the final figure at the end of the year. I would say that if anyone is looking for a “pretty job” this isn’t for you – you have to be prepared to muck in!

What have you learnt in your first 6 months?

For me, product knowledge has been the biggest learning curve – and continues to be. I would say to anybody coming into this industry that even watching some youtube videos and learning the lingo would be beneficial. The computer systems are also very different to anything I’ve used previously so I’ve had to pick that up quickly.

I was apprehensive before I started this job because I’m a female working in a predominantly male environment but I needn’t have worried. I’ve had no issues whatsoever and the company and people I work with are very supportive.

I also get a lot of support from my fellow graduates. It’s nice when we have training courses and can see how everybody is getting on. We also try to meet up outside of work as well – we had our own Christmas party this year!

What do you enjoy most about work?

I’m a people person so I like going out and meeting suppliers to source new products.

What do you find the hardest?

Product knowledge – but that will come with time and experience.

Do you feel that school/university prepared you for work?

My placement year in B&Q helped a lot and I would say to anybody that if you get the opportunity to do a placement year, take it. It’s the thing that prepared me the most for starting work. University also teaches you about relationships and working with different people from all over the world which is a valuable skill in business.

Do you have additional training opportunities?

Yes. On the Management Training Programme we have 2-3 day training courses every other month which cover every aspect of the business. The first day is hosted by guest speakers from within Wolseley who present to the group information about their particular aspect of the business – then we work with an external trainer for next 1-2 days on things such as motivating a team, or understanding branch accounts.

I’ve also taken advantage of additional training such as presentation skills – there are lots of ‘optional’ training courses and Wolseley support you to do as much training as is possible.

What would your advice be to students or recent graduates who are looking for a job?

Don’t panic! Don’t listen to the media saying that there are no jobs. Stay positive. Keep your mind open and don’t have tunnel vision as to what you will and won’t do. Don’t hold out what you think is the ‘perfect’ job and let other opportunities pass you by.

Also, when you’re in a job take on as many opportunities as you can – and network!