Guest Article from an Anglian Graduate

March 19th, 2012


Anglian Home Improvements currently runs a graduate scheme, and I have been lucky enough to work alongside Mhairi Macmillan, who studied at Lincoln University. She has written us this article about her time with the company and how it has helped her gain experience and knowledge into the running of a multi-million pound business.

Anglian Employee Mhairi Macmillan
In the beginning:

I began my employment at Anglian Home Improvements as a Graduate Management Trainee in November 2010 and I was the first of three new graduates to join the business in that year; I was joined a few weeks later by Mohammed Gorji and Nadia Sobeih. The year prior to this, the business had employed Matthew Jamison as their first Graduate on the scheme.

In my first three months with the business, I was given the opportunity to familiarise myself with Anglian and its setup; starting from the front end of sales, through to witnessing and grasping an understanding of the vertically integrated manufacturing process; I then was able to observe the operations facet of the business, and even had the chance to go out and see first hand the installation of Anglian products in the customers homes; so all in all I was able to gain a broad and cyclical perspective of the business as a whole .

Coming into the world of Anglian was quite an overwhelming experience, as suddenly I was no longer reading pages of principles and theories related to business at University, I was actually witnessing and partaking in it, on a large scale within a national organisation.

The induction period was finalised with a presentation to the company's CEO Peter Mottershead; this presentation was a platform to communicate with both Peter and our individually assigned Mentors (Nigel Cook- Director of HR is my mentor) about what we had learnt in our induction periods, and what elements of the business we believed could be improved. Our induction to the business culminated with a report about our initial experiences with the business, and in which direction we saw our careers at Anglian progressing.

The First Placement:

My first placement was within the HR function of the business. The HR function has two elements; one element looks after the retail sales side of the business and the other element looks after Norwich based manufacturing personnel and employees in other Norwich based central functions. My placement was with the Manufacturing side of HR.

A multitude of support was given to me in this placement and I was given the opportunity to shadow HR advisors, and truly learn and experience every aspect of HR.

I was in HR for a total of 7 months and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Some aspects of the job were very difficult, but it gave me the chance to develop myself and my professionalism in circumstances that are not always particularly easy to deal with.

Mhairi Macmillan hard at work
My Current Placement:

I am currently based in the central marketing department. This is collocated with the National Customer Contact Centre. All through University marketing was really where my interest laid, therefore I really wanted exposure in Anglian's marketing department and the chance to see how such a department operates in reality.

One of my first Marketing experiences was the opportunity to work with Lizzi Kilpatrick (Events and Incentives Co-ordinator) and other members of the marketing team, to help set-up the national sales conference in Milton Keynes. Although I only played a very small part in helping over the two days, it was incredible to see how much work and effort goes into setting up such an event. However, observing the conference in its entirety made me realise how important the event is, as it gives the business the opportunity to thank and motivate the sales team for the next quarter. Attending the conference also gave me the chance to get to know individuals in the marketing team- everyone has made me feel very welcome, and this has definitely helped as it has allowed me to ask lots of questions and learn about the Marketing department fully.

I have been in the Marketing department since the beginning of October. Since arriving in Marketing I have been asked to look at the telecan function and identify any potential aspects of this area that could be improved; this has involved me creating and issuing questionnaires for telecan management to complete, collecting and collating the information returned from the questionnaires and creating a de-brief presentation to Martin Troughton (Marketing Director). This presentation also included me using the research I had carried out, to pitch some initial ideas of areas that I believed could be potentially looked at further, with regards to improving the telecan function.

Off the back of this presentation and after discussions with Martin Troughton, an idea was developed with regards to creating a 'Motivational incentive ideas' guide for the telecan managers to use with their canvassers. This initial concept was evolved further and I was eventually tasked with creating not only a guide that had to contain at least twenty motivational incentive ideas, but also to accompany the guide, a motivational incentive starter pack needed to be created; which had to contain many of the essential elements to help the telecan manager's facilitate the motivational incentives within their telecan rooms.

Thankfully Lizzi Kilpatrick was also asked to help me in this task and with her knowledge and expertise, we worked together to create 45 motivational incentive starter packs.

This project allowed me to take joint ownership of a project from beginning to end. I was able to create the motivational incentive guide from scratch and work collaboratively with The Point (integrated marketing agency), to transform my initial guide template into a professional looking document. This undertaking also highlighted how seemingly simple tasks can become more difficult than first anticipated, but it was an education and made me appreciate all the fundamentals that need to be included and executed, so that a project such as this can materialise successfully.

Anglian employees in fancy dress for Halloween
The boxes were completed and shipped (but via van rather than ship) to Coventry ready for the national meeting. I also went to the national telecan meeting to wave the boxes goodbye; although I was quite nervous about how the boxes would be received by the telecan managers, I was proud to see all 45 boxes lined up and ready to go out; especially as I knew about all the hard work that had gone into creating them. The boxes were given out by Michael Yellop (Sales Development Director) and Fiona Stevens (Divisional Telecan Manager) during the afternoon session of the meeting. There seemed to be a positive reaction to the boxes, but the proof will be in the feedback that we receive from the telecan managers later on.

I am scheduled to be in the marketing department until April, so I will soon have to start thinking about where I would like to be placed for my next secondment; although, I am starting to think that the more of the business I experience and enjoy, the harder my decision will be regarding the direction of my career. Ultimately, marketing is still high in my sight of where I would like to work within the business when the graduate scheme comes to an end. For now however, I am keen to continue acquiring new skills and knowledge through meeting and working with new people throughout the business; so that hopefully, wherever my career with Anglian is destined to progress, I will be considered as a valuable member of that department's team when it comes to filling a permanent position.

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