Laura Howard

Sales & Marketing Executive

  • Advertising and Marketing Communications
  • Bournemouth University
  • Placement Year (10 Months+)
  • Mars

Can you tell us about your degree? What you studies and when?

I studied Advertising and Marketing at Bournemouth University, the course was great because it was really practical. We often worked on live briefs from large clients. Because it was so practical it made me really prepared for working life and I was really looking forward to leaving university and getting started. Doing a placement year was optional for my course and I’m so glad that I choose to do one; it really helped in my final year at University because I’d learnt to be more structured and organised.

“I absolutely loved my year at Mars and I loved telling my friends and family about all of my experiences”

What encouraged you to apply for a placement at Mars?

I wanted to work with brands that I loved and brands that I could get excited about. I knew that if I worked at Mars I would be really proud when people asked me where I did my placement. Mars also has a great reputation in terms of its culture and training which I thought would be good to develop my CV for when I left university. I also think that confectionary is a fun and exciting sector for young people to work in because everyone can identify with it in their own lives.

What was your placement role?

I worked in the Tesco sales team as a marketing and sales executive. It was a really interesting placement because it opened my eyes to an entirely different area of marketing. I supported the execution manager in implementing the marketing activity plans in store e.g. POS, Tesco Mag ads, trolley media. As chocolate is primarily bought on impulse, in store presence is vital to ensure the success of NPD or consumer promotions. It is important that Tesco were kept engaged with all of our plans, therefore my role also included co-ordinating events at Tesco Head Office where we communicated any of our new products or promotions.

Sales & Marketing Executive

What responsibilities where you given?

At the beginning of my placement, I worked closely alongside the execution manager but as I progressed and grew in confidence I was given my own projects. My most memorable project was for Malteaster Bunny – I developed a cross-supplier POS solution for Tesco Express which they still use for seasonal merchandising now! I also ran a Head Office event and arranged a ‘Bunny Road Show’ in Tesco stores around the country. I was also given the responsibly of communicating our promotional plans to the Tesco sales field team, which enabled me to hugely improve my presentation skills and I learned how to take large quantities of information and tailor it to make it relevant to the field team.

What was it like working of a FMGC like Mars?

I absolutely loved my year at Mars and I loved telling my friends and family about all of my experiences. Whilst at Mars I had some world-class training which has allowed me to develop my skills, such as presenting. At the beginning of my placement I choose a skill area that I wanted to improve and throughout my placement I had regular meetings with my line manager to discuss how I was progressing which was brilliant. When I spoke to my classmates about their own experiences on their work placements, none of them had received this level of development support, which made me realise how valuable it had been.

It sounds cheesy, but Mars really does feel like a big family. Everyone who I met on my placement was always willing to give me advice and support, no matter how busy they were which I didn’t expect in such a large organisation. I got on so well with my immediate team, they became really good friends.

“I think my most valuable learning was discovering out how to work effectively in a business environment”

What have you learnt from your placement at Mars?

I think my most valuable learning was discovering out how to work effectively in a business environment; I think it’s something that University can’t really prepare you for. This has given me a head start in my transition from university to working life because I knew what to expect.

Would you recommend the placement to other students and why?

I would 100% recommend doing a placement at Mars! As well as learning a lot and been given great responsibility you’ll have fun and you will look forward to coming to work every day.

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