Many of you will be reading this to gain insight into the 20x20 graduate scheme, however Sainsbury's also has an Own Brand graduate scheme which is very focused on the own brand products which make up around half of Sainsbury's food and grocery sales, and I am part of their placement scheme.
This is a year long scheme is split into two six month placements within the own brand division: I spent my first six months within the Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing team and the second within Meal Solutions in product development. It has been the most eye-opening experience working within the Own Brand division, and I have gained such valuable insight into how the world of retail works and the processes involved in getting food from farm to fork.
My first placement was in the Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing team, this is a central team within Own Brand who ensure that all our first tier suppliers comply with our ethical code of conduct as well as being a key driving team to ensure we meet Sainsbury's 20x20 targets (13 of which are around sustainability and our values). I have learnt so much about the real world problems associated with food production; whether it be from an ethical point of view and the problems around working conditions and pay for workers, or a sustainability point of view ensuring that all our 35 key raw materials are sourced from a sustainable supply chain to ensure we have products in the future.
I worked on various projects within the team, from updating our ethical trade focus and audit conformance requirements and training this out to suppliers, building relationships with suppliers to share best practice around sustainability technologies to mapping our soya supply chain. I organised and attended various trips to suppliers to look at their sustainability technologies and getting out of the office and into the supply base was a really interesting insight into how food is produced on such a massive scale. I really enjoyed my time within the sustainable and ethical sourcing team and was amazed by how much they achieved in such a small team. This is recognised in industry as well as by customers as sustainability and ethics are increasingly on the customers agenda.
My second six month placement, which I’m in currently, is product development within the meal solutions team. This is much bigger team and is a very cross functional category team which is a huge change to the small team I was in before. I’ve learnt and experienced so much around how we get products from concept to launch and all the processes involved to ensure we deliver on great quality and taste as well as meet the customer needs and expectations.
I’ve worked on various projects for example a development project from concept through to launch, and updating our product development process. Working on both projects along side each other allowed me to gain valuable knowledge of how the process works at the moment and who’s involved, as well as build on how I can improve it in the future. The best part of these projects is that every day is so different, with sampling one day and meetings with suppliers the other, with us all working together to ensure we hit our deadlines.
Working in both a central and category team at Sainsbury’s has really helped me understand how the company works together to achieve our targets, and it’s amazing how everybody lives and breathes the company values. I’ve loved working for such a big company and the opportunities I’ve had on top of work for example meeting various chefs and cooking with them at the culinary academies, working at the comic relief dinner with Ottolenghi and my favourite night- the Own Brand variety show!
I’d highly recommend you apply for the Own Brand placement or graduate scheme as it gives you fantastic exposure into the world of food retail. Every day is different and exciting and the support provided is second to none to ensure you have the best experience possible. There are many challenges along the way, but the rewards from working hard with the team to meet deadlines are all worthwhile what you see the products that you’ve worked on in store and in customers baskets.
Any questions please feel free to comment below and I'll do my best to respond.