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I chose to apply to Mars and this scheme because it offers international opportunities to work abroad for a year as well as the chance to work with some of the world’s top brands. I also was attracted to the concept of Mars University, which is an enabler for continuous learning and personal development which was important to me to ensure my career was not going to plateau after signing off the scheme.

I am responsible for buying the UK Cross- Segment logistics. This means managing relationships with the suppliers behind a 50 million pound spend, building relationships and identifying opportunities to optimise our network for the segments. As a result of this I am often travelling to our UK Pet, Food, Confectionery sites to meet our logistics managers in each site and support them to get the best service from our providers.

Being on this scheme means fast tracked job changes to stretch you outside of your comfort zone with a year on year rotation between roles challenging you to be adaptable and resilient whilst offering breadth across segments and categories. Being on this scheme has meant I have fantastic support networks across the business from both graduates and mentors to help accelerate your personal development journey. 

Highlights for me so far have been sourcing of the centre of the newly launched M&M crunchy caramel for a European launch as well as supporting our global brand teams in R&D to unlock innovation from our suppliers. I have also had the opportunity to visit and work with people from across the UK, Russia and Europe to visit suppliers and Mars sites gaining exposure to different segments, cultures and businesses.

No day in the office is the same and the frequent changes challenge me to learn new skills each day which also keeps me motivated. Being external facing gives me the opportunity to not only learn about Mars but businesses across Europe and Russia expanding my business acumen and market knowledge. I love working with people and problem solving so this combination provides a great match for my role as I have to engage supplier to be our strategic partner and hence unlock value for the business improving our processes and network. 

As I had no procurement background a key challenge I faced was having the confidence to stand alone and negotiate with suppliers. This is a key responsibility in my role as the outcomes of my performance have direct impact on the businesses spending and performance. Mars trusted me to carry out negotiations from the outset encouraging me to learn from my mistakes and reflect on how to improve my style. Additionally I was able to shadow my colleagues in negotiations to learn from my peers and conversely using this network to observe me in negotiations and give feedback to myself helping me further improve. On top of my peer network of support I have also been given access to a two day interactive course in Germany where we did role play and learnt various negotiation tactics, styles and techniques. As a result after my first year placement I felt equipped with a wide ranging toolkit and experience to springboard me into my next role in procurement.

My favourite thing about Mars is the people. The office provides a collaborative and enjoyable environment which has a well-balanced culture of hard-work, peer support and fun. This culture creates an environment which is perfect to develop as I can be open about my development areas and learn from my peers. Finally the responsibility given to me as a graduate has been fantastic, although it has its challenges and risks these are by far outweighed by the reward of shaping the business and achieving results to be proud of from an early stage.