I joined Sainsbury’s in September 2012 after successfully applying to the 2020 Leaders programme in my final year studying Social Policy at the London School of Economics. While the rest of the Operations graduates and I were busy completing our first store placements in northwest London, Ian, our regional HR business partner, had grand plans…
What better way to get the graduates to experience firsthand just what 2012 meant to Sainsbury’s than to get them to organise a party? And not just any party – a party to celebrate the success of colleagues from across northwest London, and our region’s adopted Paralympic athlete, the double gold-medal-winning equestrian superstar Natasha Baker.
We were thrown headfirst into the world of large-scale event organisation. In just a few short weeks we had to prepare for hundreds of people arriving at the Hillingdon Civic Centre, all expecting a cracking show. Areas of responsibility were allocated: budgeting, decoration, food and drink, and speechwriting. Mine? Creating a video to demonstrate just how proud the 4,000 Sainsbury’s colleagues across northwest London were of Natasha’s achievement. With Natasha visiting Buckingham Palace the day after our event to meet the Queen, we had our work cut out for us!
At every opportunity over the weeks prior to the event, I recorded footage of enthusiastic Sainsbury’s colleagues congratulating Natasha on her record-breaking triumph. From a roaring crowd of people in the Kenton canteen to a group of champagne-waving fans in Kings Mall, everyone got stuck in.
When it came to the night itself it was clear that the painstaking preparations were completely worthwhile. The crowd was kept in suspense with a recap of Sainsbury’s in 2012 before we brought Natasha out on the stage. She received a reception like a rock star – the cheers were deafening!
As Natasha stood there watching the video that I’d made, from backstage I could see her face light up from viewing so many of the Sainsbury’s colleagues she’d worked with over the past eighteen months taking the opportunity to congratulate her. Opportunities like these may not be part of the 2020 Leaders job description, but they’re an important part of life at Sainsbury’s. Being on the Operations programme isn’t just about managing your first department after four months, but about how you can get stuck into making your store a truly great place to work.
As ever, feel free to ask questions and post comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!