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Graduate in need of advice

#1 Graduate in need of advice
07/08/2011 14:27


I have recently graduated from University with a 2.1 in business management, and now I have just started working for a consultancy company in a head office at a top 3 market leading supermarket as a business analyst/central support business analyst (both names are used as a the job title).

From what I understand, I deliver secondary support for the Buying & Supply Chain teams within assigned categories and I have to grow sales by increasing food availability and reducing wastage. This is achieved by using the retailers bespoke systems and using Excel to analyse the information. I have to use forecasting tools to maintain optimum amount of product levels and identify opportunities for improvement. I also have to build and maintain relationship with suppliers and have meetings with an external line manager to discuss issues.

My questions are:

1)Have I made the correct decision in taking this job opportunity to gain some analysis, problem solving, communication and excel skills? Or could I have just jumped into a more consultancy based role rather than sitting on a computer 10 hours a day focusing JUST on stock control.

2)How long should I be in this role before reapplying to another organisation for a general entry/associate – operation/strategy consultancy role?

3)In the mean time should I try and gain some professional management consultancy qualifications; will this help much?

Thank you very much for your time!

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#2 RE: Graduate in need of advice
10/08/2011 18:03

SenorMick to junior (#1)

Hi Junior,

I'm not clear what your ultimate objectives are or the nature of your current role.

I presume your current role is either a short-term consulting project or most likely a secondment or interim role of sorts?

Either way, it sounds like an excellent role for a new graduate to have. Not only will you gain the skills you mention, but becuase of the secondment nature of the role you will be able to differentiate yourself from your peers by having some real industry depth. Also, the brand on your CV will impress internally and externally.

1. With respect to your first question and comment regarding 'a more consutancy based role' - the work you're doing is very much in line with a typical consulting engagement. It also sounds like you have a good level of responsibility for a graduate so I wouldnt worry.

Of course, if you have no interest in persuing a career in operations or consumer business then it is less appealing. Even so, the brand, analytical nature of work and business exposure will still put you in a strong position for most other future roles in and out of consulting.

2. If this is a secondment role it's likely the optimum time to be in it is 6-9 months. Assuming the role hasn't expanded by that time then I expect you will have learnt 80% of what there is to learn and be developing at a slower rate.

If this is an interim role or you are not employed by a consulting firm who can assign you to another project, then you may want to consider staying for a year or more so as to strengthen your CV.

3. Qualifications are alwys useful, but I wouldn't consider specific 'management consulting' qualifications. Instead consider project management or accounting/finance qualifications as these are most highly regarded in consulting.

Hope that helps

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#3 RE: Graduate in need of advice
11/08/2011 20:33

junior to SenorMick (#2)

Thank you for that insightful reply SenorMick! After much inspection I have found out the role is more specifically called a supply chain analyst/category analyst. I am not an intern however, i was offered the job.

After some more research I think I will do an accounting qualification, possibly the CIMA qualification which is more managerial based, although I really want to do a Masters for that added differentiation!

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#4 RE: Graduate in need of advice
11/08/2011 21:12

Prometheus to junior (#3)

I would strongly suggest CIMA over 95% of the masters degree in management. It is way less disruptive to your career, less expensive (you don't need a whole year off work) yet more recognised than an MSc in management. I honestly don't think anybody gives a damn about Master's degree in the UK (whereas they are pretty much mandatory in mainland Europe) apart those in finance maybe, but they'd have to be from a top school.

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#5 RE: Graduate in need of advice
11/08/2011 21:57

Gloucester-born to junior (#3)

supply chain analyst/category analyst

This kind of consulting role is well regarded within the industry and by clients and an ideal opportunity for a new starter to differentiate themselves from other grads - you will know how to do the role and not have to learn it.

That is if it is a role you want to do? If you do then give it enough time to provide clear and robust evidence that you can deliver savings, manage suppliers and understand some of the finer points of the SC process. This makes good reading on a CV.

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#6 RE: Graduate in need of advice
13/08/2011 20:24

wpm to Gloucester-born (#5)

Junior, I have a very similar background to you in that I worked in a similar environment as my first graduate job. After spending two years in an analyst role at a top 3 supermarket consultancy I made the successful transition to MBB.

I agree with the above posters and think that the skills and responsibilities that you are currently gaining are extremely valuable. This coupled with strong communication skills will set you apart from the crowd. Therefore I would advise you to pick up as many analysis techniques and improve your communication skills as much as you can. I think the optimum time would be 1.5 - 2.5 years.

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