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Rob Shorter

People asked why I studied chemistry and now I’m in business. I just laugh and tell them it doesn’t matter what you study, as long as you’re passionate about what you do and that you are good at it! I think that when applying for any role, if you can demonstrate that passion and understand what you have to offer, it puts you in a great position. 

I always knew The Co-operative had an ethical foundation - something which is important to me - but when I realised it was undergoing immense change, with mergers, acquisitions and a re-brand, I knew it would be an exciting time to join as a graduate with opportunities to make an impact left, right and centre. 

I certainly wasn’t wrong. At the end of our induction project in food operations there was a lot of interest from senior management about the findings from our project as we had stumbled across the hot topic of the moment. Consequently, I ended up presenting our group’s findings to the executive food board and our Group CEO, Peter Marks; and in terms of exposure it doesn’t get any better than that. 

I spent my first solo project in Technical Services as I wanted to develop my core project management skills, co-ordinating technical engineers with business representatives and 3rd parties. From this experience I took some valuable lessons in influencing amongst other things and I’m happy to say that I am still really close to the team I worked with. 

The scope to lead projects in any department within any of the group businesses presents a fantastic opportunity. This is where the Co-operative Graduate Programme stands apart from others. I didn’t know where I wanted to end up but my current project within the commercial arm of food has so far proved to be inspirational, involving heaps of problem solving and cross functional networking, coupled with the challenge of having zero budget to bring about a really positive benefit for all staff in the Manchester Complex. What’s more, it’s given me a better idea of what I want from my full time role at the end of the scheme. 

One thing to remember is that you’re always going to be better suited to some projects than others, but that you also take something new from every experience.