Abi Pycroft: Learning all about the right shade of orange

By Our Graduates on 12 August 2014

Abi Cropped

I joined Sainsbury’s three years after I left university, as I really wanted to gain some work experience and go travelling. I’m so glad that I got to go and explore the world before getting stuck into my career, but by the time my first day came round I was definitely ready for a challenge.

That came in the form of Sainsbury’s Whitechapel – a fast-paced, exciting supermarket in London. The best thing about this placement was meeting the amazing team of colleagues – a diverse, welcoming bunch with a fantastic team spirit. My highlights included organising the Whitechapel ‘Oscars’ – a red carpet event we held in store to celebrate our colleagues, and taking charge of the seasonal aisles at Christmas – I have NEVER seen so much chocolate. I learnt a lot about retail in those four months, and becoming part of the Whitechapel family really helped me to understand what it’s like to work for Sainsbury’s on the shop floor.

After a VERY busy Christmas, it was time to swap the shop floor for the 3rd floor – the marketing department of Sainsbury’s Head Office. For my marketing placement I joined the Own Brand team, where we aim to drive growth and build loyalty across Sainsbury’s brands. I was immediately thrown into the deep end, building an Easter campaign for our billion-pound premium brand – Taste the Difference.

My next challenge was a project on our Own Brand kids’ food, where I was regularly pushed out of my comfort zone – briefing creative agencies on packaging designs, presenting to directors and making big strategic recommendations on how we could improve children's nutrition.

Most recently, I managed the Sainsbury’s Freefrom exhibition at the London Allergy and Freefrom Show – an event with an attendance of 30,000 visitors. If you’ve ever worked in event management you’ll understand that this was a stressful time! All of these tasks seemed daunting at first, but with some fantastic support from my manager and team I have developed quickly and gained a strong grounding in marketing. It’s a great department to be in, where you regularly hear things like “Is it the right orange? Is has to be the Sainsbury’s orange” and “Who can I find to talk to about cheese around here?!”

In addition to the day job, it’s the extra graduate activities that make the scheme so brilliant. Some of the other blog posts have mentioned Sport Relief – did you know that as a group of 20 grads we raised over £8,000? We have also had the chance to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at our Commercial Director’s team meetings, and helped to open a brand new superstore: Sainsbury’s Tottenham.

Probably the best quality of the scheme, though, is its variety. In just a few weeks I’ll be leaving marketing and starting my next placement in buying. It’s pretty fast-moving – just as you feel settled you’re thrown into something new, but I’m excited to see what’s around the corner.

If you have any questions about the Sainsbury’s 2020 Leaders Graduate Scheme then do let me know in the comments below and I will answer as best I can.

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5 comments for “Abi Pycroft: Learning all about the right shade of orange”

  • Callum Woodall15 August 2014 at 11:38:50

    Great piece. A really good insight into the graduate scheme. As a Sainsburys colleague that has just graduated it was interesting to read about. Do you have any advice for the application process?

  • Ed15 August 2014 at 17:01:52

    Great Article!

  • Abi Pycroft26 August 2014 at 13:30:34

    Hi Callum, thanks for your comment. The first piece of advice I’d give you is to use your existing role at Sainsbury’s to gain as much experience as possible. For example, you could ask to lead a huddle or volunteer for extra responsibilities within your department – this will all contribute to a strong application. Secondly, research, research, research! Learn everything you can about Sainsbury’s and the wider retail industry. Finally, prepare lots of examples of your university and work experience for the telephone interview and assessment centre. Good luck!

  • Demi22 September 2014 at 15:20:01

    Hi Abi - the programme sounds so exciting! I'd like to know what the flexibility is like in terms of choosing placements?

  • Abi Pycroft22 September 2014 at 17:14:43

    Hi Demi, it definitely is exciting. One of the great things about the programme is the wide range of opportunities that are open to you. You could undertake a placement in Marketing, Buying, Supply Chain – in fact any division across the business. The graduate team will work with new graduates to identify the best placements for you, ensuring you continue to grow, develop and be challenged. I’d encourage anyone applying to the scheme to be open-minded and take on lots of different opportunities to gain as much experience as possible. Good luck with your application!

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About the author

  • Our GraduatesThe graduates on our 2020 Leaders programme write about their experiences as Sainsbury's graduates.