Rebecca Charnley – MDS Alumni
I joined MDS in 2010 and spent my first placement on the Isle of Sheppey as a Quality Controller. The purpose of my role was to ensure that all fruit that was despatched from the port into the supermarkets was of the highest quality. I then spent a year in a commercial role, firstly a sales support function where my day to day duties included amending orders, uploading prices and being the daily contact for any queries. My latter 6 months were in an Account Executive position, this allowed me more focus on particular accounts where I would devise and present promotional campaigns, work with the development team on new products and manage all of the day to day running of the accounts. My last 6 months was spent at Flamingo flowers in a commercial role working cross functionally across a number of accounts. I was lucky enough to be at Flamingo during the 3 peaks which is when all the action happens! I spent considerable time monitoring quality throughout the packing process, regular store visits to ensure all flowers on shelf were at the correct standard and communicating availability and quality challenges to the customer.
My biggest learning was that the most challenging secondments were the ones where I learnt the most both about myself as well as the business and industry as a whole. The industry is very fast paced and you are expected in many instances to learn on the job. A high level of self-belief is crucial to ensure you succeed and don’t become overwhelmed. The roles are designed to challenge and push you out of your comfort zone. Accepting that there will be times when you feel anxious and lacking direction will help keep your outlook positive.
On finishing MDS I began working at Barfoots, having enjoyed my year’s placement there and being on the sunny South coast! I started as an account executive and in just under a year became an Account Manager. I am now a Commercial Manager, looking after multiple accounts within a busy commercial team. My role isn’t without its challenges as the industry remains very competitive but what makes it so enjoyable is the diversity it brings and the ability to work and engage with all other departments. Every day is very different, I might be in a store looking at promotional activity, working with the development team to create new products, out on the farm showing customers what we do or at customer head office discussing future plans. No two days are the same, the pace is fast but I wouldn’t change it.
I genuinely don’t believe I would be in my current position if it wasn’t for MDS. The carefully tailored training and multiple network events enabled me to build on my existing skill set and gain experience in roles that without MDS I wouldn’t have had access to. Every trainee that completes the scheme shapes the reputation and builds on the legacy of MDS. The high regard MDS is held in is unwavering in all businesses I have worked within which is a true testament to the calibre of trainees and the hard work they put in.