Jess – Junior Demand Planner

Having joined Liz Earle in 2014, we thought Jess would be the perfect person to speak to about life at Liz Earle and her journey with us.

Hey Jess! So you started out as an Apprentice with us. How did you find out about apprenticeships?
I took a year out to travel with my sister and I also wasn’t sure which course I wanted to study at university. I had missed the UCAS application deadline, so when I returned I went on this great website called notgoingtouni.co.uk. There were all these amazing apprenticeships – before this I thought apprenticeships were just for plumbing or building, I didn’t know you could do professional or office-based ones. While working at Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight, my colleague saw an advert for apprenticeships at Liz Earle. It was deadline day for applications, so I put a cover letter together and sent it in with my CV.

Why Liz Earle?
There were five apprenticeships on offer and one was in the Finance department – ideal as I was interested in economics and accounting. I really wanted the role. I was born on the Island and have lived here all my life. I was so excited I could gain experience in finance with an Island company, and to see what it was like before I decided this was where my future lay. After 3 rounds of interviews, getting the role was like a Christmas present!

It’s funny, as back when I was 15 I was involved in Young Chamber. I won an award and was given a big hamper full of Liz Earle goodies. There was a note with the hamper that said ‘Come and work for us – when you’ve finished your studies, give us a shout’. At the time I thought I would love to work for them one day. 

How did the apprenticeship go? We assume well, as you’re still here!
It was such a great opportunity. I began working with purchase ledgers, invoices, sales ledger, statements and month-end cycles. We then rotated roles within the apprenticeship time and I gained some experience working with the Supply Chain Team – I now work closely with this team in my role as Junior Demand Planner.

As part of the apprenticeship, I spent four days a week at Liz Earle and one day a week at college. I had coursework to complete and once a month, my college tutor came into the office to observe me at work and set tasks, so I could gain an NVQ Level 3 in Business and Admin.

The NVQ was an 18-month course being squeezed into a year to fit with the apprenticeship. It was agreed by everyone involved that extending my apprenticeship would be a good idea.

I moved to the Supply Chain Team to gain more exposure to different business functions during the extension. I wasn’t sure what Supply Chain was but I’m open-minded and wanted to give it my all. After my year in finance I realised I loved Liz Earle, but wasn’t sure finance was necessarily for me anyway. I preferred the idea of looking ahead, planning and implementing strategy.

So what happened after the 18 months?
Well… I’m still working in supply chain and love it! As the apprenticeship was finishing, I was so sad at the thought of leaving. One of the directors called me into her office to tell me about an amazing opportunity – a master data role had been created within the team, how would I feel about taking it on? The rest is history. It was a bespoke role that benefited the company but suited my skills, a role I could run with and develop into what I wanted. I became a Master Data Analyst and was given project after project, putting processes in place.

A position then opened in demand planning. I saw an opportunity be trained up and voiced my interest. My manager was supportive and here I am.

How’s life at Liz Earle now?
I am really happy in my role and have had so many opportunities given to me by Liz Earle, which I’m grateful for. They’re supporting me as I do the professional CPIM qualification with APICS. It’s an important qualification in the supply chain arena, all about inventory management, and I see it as a great investment from Liz Earle into me.
I really have grown with the company – I have so much more understanding and knowledge than when I joined. And I also have more confidence – from speaking up in meetings to working cross-functionally.

Why do you think apprenticeships are so important?
I had never heard of supply chain before – we aren’t taught about these types of jobs at school and through this opportunity I have found a job that fits who I am and optimises my natural skill set.

An apprenticeship can give you exposure to ‘hidden’ roles and are the way forward! That’s not to say I won’t go to university one day, but if I do I will have more clarity and focus on what I would choose to do.

Any advice to finish on?
Throughout my career I have been in the right place at the right time, but I have always jumped on opportunities and been willing to take risks. You create your own luck.