Published by on Friday, 28 Oct 2016
James was a delegate at our Academy 2016 programme. Read his story here:
Since attending the Oxford Summer School Academy I've had the time to reflect on what I learnt during an intense, learning filled week. I've gone through some of my key learning's with my peers, my line manager and my regional team with plans to share more with our 'geo' of stores in the New Year. I've also been promoted into a new role as a Store Manager, having been a Commercial Manager when I came to Academy and this has been great timing to allow me to put some of my learning's into practice.
From a technical point of view, the Academy has changed the way I approach my role by helping me to understand the broader functions of the business (merchandising, marketing, promotional activity, finance) which I'd never had the opportunity to experience working in a large organisation, this has really helped me to explain the 'why' to my teams in terms of overall business decisions.
However, the biggest way the programme has impacted my approach is in my personal leadership style. It helped me to understand my own style better, the impact this has on others, how I can maximise the effectiveness of this style and mitigate any pitfalls; and most importantly that I should lead in my own way and I am the right person for the job!
The Academy has opened my eyes in terms of breadth of opportunity and variety of roles within retail. Having so far had a very linear career path in store based management roles it really made me think about what other opportunities there are within the business. This opportunity for variety as well as the investment in me from M&S into my personal development continues to make me think that it's somewhere I intend to spend my whole career.
I think the best leaders are people who continue to learn no matter how experienced they are, and although it's a well-worn saying it's absolutely true that it's up to every individual to drive their own personal development. Oxford Summer School was an excellent starting point for this and highlights the importance of ongoing training for retail managers but it also did make me realise how important it is for me to continuously review and reflect on my own leadership style and have a real plan for my own personal development and progression.
Store Manager, M&S