Your career pathway

Lara Sutton, Marketing Insights Graduate, Tesco

#FYI Lara Sutton, Marketing Insights Graduate, Tesco


What is your name, job title and employer?

My name is Lara Sutton and I'm a marketing insights graduate with Tesco Ireland.

What are the main tasks you do in your job in a normal week?

On a weekly basis it would actually vary quite a bit. As I'm in the marketing team I actually work with all the different teams on multiple projects, that includes sales, price, promotion and forecasting so I link in with them initially to find out how the projects are going, what the next steps are and what's the plan for the next few weeks. I would then also be monitoring sales on a weekly basis. I'm looking at ongoing promotions, seeing how those are going and reviewing customer market research that is ongoing as well.

How did you get into your job?

I had a retail background. I got a Christmas job and I just loved the Christmas sale and retail I was like this is it! I started looking at courses that I wanted to do and I didn't know which area of retail I wanted because I wanted to do it all so I did a retail service management course in TUD which covered the whole industry so I kind of touched on everything. It was at this point that I bumped into Tesco Ireland at the grad fair in October. They told me about their graduate program which had two placements which would be very different. One was a stretched and aimed to challenge you and one was something more familiar and that was something I wanted because I felt so many graduate programs put you in a corner and that's the corner you stay un and I didn't want to do that because I loved everything I had done. I went online, I did an online application and then there was a video interview at which point I was invited to a discovery assessment day at Clare Hall where I got to meet more people and it was just such a lovely environment. I was getting so excited at this point and then a few weeks later I'd heard I’d been successful and got the position.

Tesco, they focus more on who you are even if you don't really have the technical skills, they'll train you up because they want the right people to have the right culture. It's not unusual in Tesco to have people who've been there for 34 years who have been in HR, who's then moved to law who's then moved to buying. If you show an interest, they're more than happy to move you around to try new things. They keep training you in stuff because if you get the right people, the right culture, it just works and it's a wonderful place to be.

How important was culture when deciding on a career?

The culture was a really important factor to me because I knew I wanted something that I would be comfortable with because I'm a loyal person and I knew from other businesses I worked for so I knew if I find somewhere with the right culture, I'd be happy to be there for ages I wanted that kind of experience. I wanted somewhere that wouldn't put me in a box that let me grow that challenged me but also really support me which is one of the things the graduate program really does so when you first get there you get given a mentor. I’m mentored with one of the buying directors which is an incredible person to have that relationship with.

What skills do you need to be successful in your role?

To be successful in my role I think one of the key skills is communication. We do have 13,000 colleagues and that's just on our end. Being able to communicate with them all and being able to communicate well is a very key thing especially as it's not unusual being in meetings and there's so many different people in it. To be able to get a point across and be able to have that conversation is something that is very important, so I think communication is an important one. As I'm on so many different projects as well from the marketing side and I'm also helping with handover in the people team training up someone, being able to be organized and prioritize what needs to come first and what projects is another thing that I find is really important for my role.

What advice would you give to a college student?

If I had to give my younger self a bit of advice I would say don't be so stressed about stuff. I know applying for the program I wanted it so badly I got a bit stressed about it but I think if it's going to work it's going to work. Just relax, things happen for a reason. I think if I'm talking about skills wise, I would say touch up on the Excel skills. I use them on a weekly and daily basis now so I'm still learning them, but I think it's a really good thing to be able to do because everyone uses them now. I would say strategic thinking and adaptability would be another great one to learn mostly because the retail industry is constantly changing and for me to be aware that I should have been monitoring what was happening a little bit more just to be aware of “oh there's a skill that's developing that people are needing I’ll learn that now”, and make myself a better candidate for the future.

What do you love about your job?

My favourite thing about working at Tesco is the level of collaboration that happens. It was really important in my first placement to be able to talk to loads of people and, it was funny because I'd be messaging store managers going “I saw that someone  did a great thing here could you send us a picture and we can have a caption to upload it to the Instagram page”. Then a week later they would get back and say, “oh we've done this, or we've done this, and we've done this and what are your thoughts on this, maybe we could do this?”, and it just exploded. it's a wonderful bit of collaboration which I really enjoyed.