Published by on Friday, 14 Aug 2015
Lisa Wedlock, Network Proposition & Pricing Manager at Dixons Carphone, is a previous delegate of the Oxford Summer School Academy. Lisa shared her experiences at the recent Oxford Summer School’s 85th celebration event at Peter Jones, London.
“After 18 months working as a Part Time Customer Consultant in Carphone Warehouse, I was bored and growing weary of the job I was in. Applying for many jobs, there seemed to be no success as all the regret emails said that I had great eagerness but not enough experience. How am I supposed to get the experience if no one gives me the opportunity to get the experience? This was the question posed by me to the Head of Commercial in an interview for a job that was well out of my league. He then offered me an entry level position as a commercial analyst.
Within a week of starting my new job, Carphone Warehouse had opened up the ‘Apprentice Challenge’ to all employees of the business, with the prize being a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Oxford Summer School Academy. I did a bit of research on the school and thought to myself – this is my chance to get myself exposed to the right people to guide me in my career. I applied, and got an acceptance to attend a 3 day ‘Mini Apprentice Challenge’ - I was shocked to have been accepted. To my delight, the team I was on during the challenge won the best idea and business case. Next came the individuals who were awarded a scholarship and the first name that was announced was my name, I felt blessed to have been chosen and really encouraged by my success.
The Oxford Summer School
When I arrived at the Oxford Summer School, I was blown away and inspired by Keble College and ready to learn. We were split into teams, initially nobody knew each other on the team so it meant we all had to get to know each other quickly. I felt out of my depth as people were more experienced than me. However we were reminded by our group director that it wasn’t a week of competition for a prize but a week of learning and development.
Through the week I learned so much about areas of the retail business that I had never been exposed to. This covered merchandising and the importance of having the right stock at the right time, understanding how to positively influence colleagues and commercial relationships, and realising that the F in Finance stands for FUN.
Aside from learning about business, I learned a lot about myself and working in teams and the effect you have on other people working with you. One key insight that I gained from the course is that as you have no pre judgements of your fellow delegates it was easier to be honest in your feedback about the people you are working with. This feedback has helped me change the way I think in meetings and how I listen to others. I learned that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth and to use them in that sequence. Listen more than you talk!
After my week on the Academy programme I was inspired, full of new knowledge and very very tired. Every day we were up at 6.30am and working through to 10.30pm. When we returned to work, we were tasked to present back to our senior leadership team what we had learned and possible ideas for our business.
Sending your employees to the Oxford Summer School will allow them to learn how to be more effective in managing and leading their team, expose them to many different areas of responsibility in business and therefore expand their knowledge. The course also encourages delegates to look at the bigger picture and not just their own area of responsibility. My time at the Academy taught me how to grow and develop people for my business and most importantly built my confidence for the future.
My message to employers would be to not make the mistake of sending your employees without being committed to their further development, think of your employees as the future leaders of your business who you need to develop.”