Jo Cutler – MDS Alumni
Looking back to 5 years ago I was stacking shelves in Sainsburys on a night shift and now I am a category analyst at the Co-op, responsible for managing our dairy supply base to ensure we always have our products available to our customers. It’s a fantastic role as the Co-op are a great company to work for, I’m given a lot of autonomy and responsibility and I meet a lot of interesting, passionate people.
I don’t think I’d have made that transition if it hadn’t been for the experience I gained on the MDS scheme. My time on MDS provided me with the mind-set needed to work in a fast paced and challenging industry. It gave me the confidence and resilience to make difficult decisions when the stakes are high; to value what can be achieved through collaboration and working within a team and the ability to always challenge the status quo and seek new, innovative solutions.
Next month I am moving into the dairy commercial team as junior buyer, responsible for sourcing their butters and spreads. This was a career ambition when I joined MDS and I have been able to achieve this goal thanks to the training and experience offered on the MDS training scheme.
Before I’d even officially started as a trainee on the scheme, MDS were invested in my development as they offered me the opportunity to do a pre-MDS secondment with a member company to develop my understanding of the industry before my first secondment.
I spent five months with North Bank Growers working within operations, quality control and logistics in the pack house before moving into the greenhouse for the summer months as a harvest manager. This gave me a lot of hands on exposure to people management which wasn’t something I was necessarily aiming towards but I learned that it was actually something I really enjoyed.
My first official secondment was as a project manager at Greenvale AP working with the procurement and agronomy teams to design and implement a new database.
For my second and third secondments I worked in a sales role at British Sugar selling a co-product of the sugar manufacturing process to the agricultural market as a liming agent. It was an exciting role giving me the chance to travel across the country meeting growers and agronomists with the aim of expanding our customer base into new markets
My fourth secondment was working for Flamingo Flowers as an implant at the Co-op. This role involved working with both commercial and supply chain teams at the Co-op and Flamingo Flowers to optimise the relationship between supplier and customer and ensuring we maximised sales in a profitable manner. It was a great introduction into the retail world, in particular the relationship between customers and suppliers. After completing MDS and spending 18 months in this role I moved into the dairy supply chain team at the Co-op where I work today.
The MDS scheme certainly wasn’t easy but I can’t think of any other scheme that allows you to grow and develop so rapidly in such a short space of time. If you have high ambitions to work in a very rewarding industry there is no better scheme to give you the strong foundation needed to kick start your career.