Like many other students studying a BBus at AUT University, I needed to find a placement to complete my last paper and graduate. I took the paper requirements literally and wanted to find a position where I could actually use my learnings gained over the previous two and a half years and build on them professionally over the nine weeks. I sent my CV away to a number of different roles, got three interviews and in turn 3 job offers. It was a hard choice to make as these were the 3 options:
- Paid and a guaranteed permanent administration role once I had finished my Co Op
- Unpaid but for a not-for-profit close to my heart (and house)
- Unpaid but for The Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest retailer and a market leader with 12,000 people.
Why did I choose The Warehouse Group (TWG)? The interview at the Store Support Office (SSO) in Northcote really stood out to me. I felt a strong sense of pride from all the people who I passed on the way to the interview room. The person who interviewed me, Debbie, talked about the importance of culture and ‘team fit’. Despite an almost overwhelming use of acronyms and TWG’s own language, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to be part of such a strong team in a market leading company. I accepted the role of Learning and Development Support reporting to the Leadership Development Manager, Debbie. I felt I would be able to not only use the skills I had learnt in class but develop professionally and come out of the 9 weeks with tangible experience.
They say first impressions are everything, and I could not have been more correct about the strength of the team not only in my department but across brands and departments. I had no idea the sheer scope of TWG, not only in a retail sense but also in charity and community work and an honest desire to both help and empower.
A strong team does not come without its limitations and at first I found it hard how honest and blunt some people would be with feedback about work I produced. One project I was given to write was a three stage training program for up skilling employees. I received the brief and had a weekly meeting about the work in progress (WIP) with my manager. I thought I was all over it, Wrong. Due to the project having many Brands input I ended up having to completely change my choice of language and every meeting would result in additional feedback on improvements to the program. At the time I started to feel incompetent in such a powerful team of high achievers. A saying used at TWG is “Playing the ball not the Man” meaning people are dealing with the issue at hand not the person at all. Once I started relating the feedback to my work, not myself, I started thinking about my own work more critically before seeking feedback and came forward in leaps and bounds. It was suddenly clear every person was working towards producing the best that could be achieved within the time that we/I had could produce for the stores with the ultimate goal of helping store employees “love their customer”.
In SSO “Progress not perfection” or the “80/20” rule applies to all projects. This translates to everyone working hard to produce the absolute best results they can for the stores to in turn give the best to our customers, however, still acknowledging strict time constraints. This teams attitude creates a culture that is both efficient and effective at producing quality products and programmes and I believe is a major contributor to why TWG is strides ahead of competition.
The skills I learnt both personally and professionally in this role are irreplaceable. I am now in a full time permanent position within the People Support team at TWG and loving the endless possibilities in front of me. TWG is a company where you will be driven to achieve, constantly pushing yourself to produce quality work in line with those around you. I strongly recommend applying to The Warehouse Group if you want to be pushed and get skills and confidence out of the 9 week placement you are unlikely to get anywhere else. If you want to work in this work hard/ play hard environment; bring you’re ‘A’ game because this team will not just accept anyone.