Greg Walker: My OSS Story

Published by on Friday, 28 Oct 2016

Greg was a delegate at our Academy 2016 programme. Read his story here:

The Oxford Summer School Academy has helped equip me with a leadership toolkit to assist both in my immediate career role now and for my potential future roles. The OSS helped me to take a step back and look at the wider meaning for business decisions, giving me an understand of the actual decisions required for running a business rather than simply implementing these decisions.

Over the course of the week I learned technical skills involving management accountancy from an investors point of view and from a senior manager including balance sheets, Profit & Loss accounts and accountancy ratios. I gained technical knowledge within elements of marketing which I haven't necessarily been as involved with within M&S and also merchandising in terms of purchasing stock and the impact of reductions and advertising within this purchasing decision. Above all else, I learnt the most about myself, my leadership style, working closely with a team and getting the best out of individuals from a team dynamic point of view.

In the few months that have passed since the Academy was completed I have moved to a new role within the business as the store manager of a brand-new store opening just north of Sutton Coldfield in Mere Green. The store opens on the 30th November and many of the skills I learnt during my time at the OSS have helped me in my journey of opening the new store - especially around being aware of team dynamics along with some of the technical skills I gained.

I firmly believe the Oxford Summer School Academy helped me to have a much wider view on my own career aspirations and really made me aware of my own potential. I now have clear direction in where I want to be in 12 months, 5 years and beyond. The OSS helps by providing you with an advanced leadership toolkit which will especially help in more senior roles as I progress through M&S. With opening a new store, you get involved with many more stakeholders than you would normally, the community, contractors, planners and everything I learnt at the OSS which helped me understand the much wider business context has helped, along with of course an increase in confidence.

I had a good catch up with my regional manager post going on the Academy. It really allowed me to understand how to shape my future career and make my manager aware of  how I want to progress through the company. I firmly believe having the OSS in your repertoire and CV will help with future career progression both within M&S and externally as well.

A personal development plan is essential if you want direction in your career. How are you supposed to know what roles you want to target, where you want to go, if you don't have a development plan giving clear direction as to how to get there? But the most important part about a development plan is that it is stretching, if it doesn’t push you out your comfort zone or help in your career path then it's not worth putting on there! Taking time out to do training is also an essential part, it's easy to get bogged down in daily routine, taking yourself out for a day or a week really helps to refresh perspective!

Greg Walker
Store Manager, M&S

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