Shirley Shi – China
Have you ever been left in the dark after an interview? No news as to what’s happening next or how you did? It seems the norm for many companies. So, imagine my reaction when following my interview at Mars, I was provided with FULL detailed notes outlining what I am really good at, as well as my areas for improvement. I was stunned. To me, this seemed revolutionary. It was incredibly beneficial, and helped me to get to know myself better so that I could develop my skills. I knew from this moment that joining Mars was the right decision.
The feedback highlighted an area I hadn’t considered before: I needed to work on my conflict management skills. This might seem like a strange point to raise, but the interview process was very thorough and managing conflict is one of the Mars Leadership Capabilities, meaning it’s key to the company’s culture. My surprise about the level of feedback and development opportunities didn’t end there, as I then received conflict management training to strengthen my skillset. This was broken down into a 70-20-10 model for learning and growth. 70% of the development came from being given opportunities during my daily work, as I dealt with internal stakeholders, agencies and suppliers, and I was encouraged to take risks and try things out for myself. 20% is spent learning from others, including your Line Manager, Mentor and peers. The final 10% is attributed to training sessions, where I attended courses run by experts. Consequently, I feel like conflict management has now become one of my strengths.
At Mars I was a part of the 2012-2015 Graduate Rotational Program where over three years I worked across the Commercial, Finance and Marketing teams. The most unexpected aspect of this experience is the sheer level of responsibility I was given, from such a junior position. They identify gaps for their Associates to branch out and work on something that no one in the team has done before. In my time in the Finance team I developed the first by-customer profit and loss analysis; which has since become a signature practice for the Finance team. During my year in the Marketing team I helped to lead on the launch of the M&M’s Tube Topper, 40Million RMB of which sold in one year and provided a 5% profit growth. Throughout the program I could see tangible results of my work, and really felt like I was making a difference at Mars, all of which came from being given so much responsibility and freedom to get involved with large-scale projects. I really didn’t expect this so early on in my career.
Since completing the Graduate scheme, I have spent a further three years working at Mars starting out in Strategy and most recently having moved back to the Marketing team. The broad experience I gained by working across multiple functions has helped me to identify my career path at Mars. So, when I realised that I wanted to move from Strategy to Marketing to again have the opportunity to produce actual business results, my Manager fully supported me every step of the way. It was here that the Great Line Manager culture in Mars really helped me, as I was able to have an open dialogue with my Line Manager, to get the best advice for moving forward. I have since delivered on leading innovation for Mars’ chocolate brand, Dove, and pioneered new initiatives by building a daily occasion for chocolate to enhance chocolate relevance with China consumers. I have also developed compelling strategy that has affected the company’s annual plan. I’ve been given opportunity after opportunity to jump out of my daily projects and use more of a strategic, holistic and brand strategy-focussed perspective.
What has really surprised me throughout my time at Mars is what a big learning curve I have been offered. The main thing I have learnt is that if you are eager to learn, Mars will offer you the opportunities to reach out of your comfort zone and grasp something new. They’ve helped me to carve out my career path, having constantly supported me along the way. I’m excited to see what’s next on my career journey with Mars.