Alex Nixon

Placement Student

  • Business Management
  • Surrey, University of
  • Placement Year (10 Months+)
  • 3M

What was the interview process like?

I really enjoyed the interview process. I actually turned up slightly late for my assessment centre because there was a problem with the trains. I called the phone number on the email I had received confirming my assessment centre and the lady in the recruitment team was great, reassuring me not to worry. I finally arrived, running across the car park to the large 3M sign over the main entrance and I was met with a large handshake from the person running the assessment centre reassuring me that everything was okay.

The assessment centre and interview process was fun and challenging. In the interviews it felt like the interviewers/ hiring managers just wanted to get to know the person, the character behind the CV, not just what was written down.

How much responsibility do you have?

Whilst working at 3M I have been given a range of responsibility. When I started out I was doing odd jobs supporting the rest of the team, getting to grips with the products, the market and the company culture. Once I had proven myself I was with responsibility that exceeded my expectations. In the fourth month of my placement year I was given responsibility for the divisions marketing communications.

Later in the year I was also manage to manage a new growth venture project for the division. These are projects which contribute to the company global objectives. This project included managing and arranging week long photography shoots, bidding for allocation of funds, sourcing products and resources and coordinating teams in locations across the UK.

As part of the communications role I managed the attendance of 3M attendance at 10 different industry events ranging from £500 - £30000 of investment per event.

What advice would you give to students applying for your role?

The advice I would give someone applying for any role at 3M is to be yourself, play to win, be proactive and always willing to learn.

Playing to Win is one of the leadership behaviours at 3M. It’s about demonstrating that you can be accountable for your results and be externally focused (customers and the company), whilst responding well to setbacks with learning and a looking to change for future success.

People at 3M understand that you are continuously learning and asking questions is encouraged, it is part of the collaborative culture at 3M. The one thing that I have been consistent about throughout my year is asking for help – you work in a team for a reason so that you can draw off of other people’s strengths. Asking questions shows that you understand your limitations and you want to address it.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

What I enjoy most about my role is the team that I get to be a part of. They are fantastic and they have been mentors, friends and competitors throughout my time at 3M.

I have had the opportunity to work with 4 different product managers, regional sales managers, and European managers on projects. Each of them helping me to learn in one way or another. Working with so many people has meant I have gained such a valuable breadth of learnings, whilst at 3M that has made me more employable than I ever could have expected.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Dealing with external agencies and companies to 3M can be a challenge, especially when you become so used to the high standards that 3M set. Motivating an external agency or company to have the same enthusiasm and drive as you have and pay attention to the same level of detail is a challenge. However, my biggest challenge has been leaving. The team I have worked in and the projects that I have worked on have meant that I have been so invested in 3M that adjusting to not having work to do or handing over projects that I’ve been working on for months for someone else to finish is difficult. Separating the emotional investment into your work and the rational acceptance of leaving and returning to University has been the biggest challenge.

Describe your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement was executing our attendance at one of our major distributor conference. Reviewing learnings and observations from the previous event which I had been involved in I pitched an unconventional method for exhibiting at the conference. Replacing the generic table of products and the market specific demonstrations with miniature Customer Innovation Centre (CIC) demo’s to engage the target audience. In the review meeting I received a great deal of scepticism from the management team however following the event received great praise and feedback.

How has this experience exceeded your expectations?

I’ve made lifelong friends and learnt about an industry I didn’t really know existed. I’ve been given more opportunity to grow as a person and a professional in a year than I ever did at college or school. I learnt way more than I ever did in a classroom about financials, dashboards, marketing strategy and project planning.

What is the office atmosphere like?

The office atmosphere is great! Work hard, Play hard. Everyone is happy to help no matter what they are doing. They will make time to help you with what you are working on. Dress code is business ready which is nice, especially on hot summer days when you don’t have to wear a tie or jacket and you just want to roll up the sleeves on your shirt and power through the day.

What activities are there outside of work?

There are tonnes of activities out of work from the 3M Gym to touch rugby for the 3M team at a local league. I even have friends who play netball for 3M. In my first summer at 3M the social team even set up an outdoor cinema evening on the field behind the main building!

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