For a newcomer to the UK such as me, the British retail landscape looked pretty messy and incomprehensible at first. When I first moved to London in the beginning of January 2015, I made the decision where to do groceries solely based on what Google Maps told me my nearest store was. I was vaguely aware that the retail marketplace is highly competitive and that it is a ‘big thing’ in the UK.
With that ‘expert’ knowledge of mine, I entered my first project at Capgemini, which ironically enough was for one of the biggest UK retailers. Realising on Friday that I would have to join the project on Monday, I had to quickly go through a thoughtfully designed New Joiners pack and familiarise myself with what is largely considered one of Capgemini’s flagship projects. Not only that, I had to experience, for the first time in my career, the ‘nomadic’ consultant work style by having to travel to and back from the then unknown to me destination – Leeds. This meant that I’d have to make the most out of working on trains and in hotels.
Feeling quite nervous, I arrived in Leeds on a gloomy Monday morning and was welcomed by the Capgemini team working at our local office. The team, which for its bigger part consisted of architects and developers from the Apps part of the business supported by a few Capgemini Consulting people, seemed a bit ‘ominous’ at first – all these people with a lot of project and overall industry knowledge using hard to pronounce acronyms and names of applications and systems… However, very soon I was freely chatting with everyone and bombarding them with questions (some of which were undoubtedly stupid) – from Senior Consultants to Principals and Lead Architects. I received great support and advice and was quickly getting up to speed with everything going on.
And believe me, it was a lot! The project had been ongoing for the last 2.5 years and there were already a lot of systems and processes in place that I needed to familiarise myself with. Furthermore, there was a lot to be changed and worked on as well. It was a stretch role as a Stream Business Analyst, so being entirely honest, I had a few long nights during the first weeks during which I pushed myself to grasp the vast scope and depth of the project. It involved a really ambitious loyalty scheme programme supported by a complex CRM architecture. Not only that – the sheer number of delivery and 3rd party suppliers and business stakeholders was massive. This allowed for a great exposure and challenging tasks to undertake.
I was in charge of deliverables the names of which I had never heard before. The first time my Stream Lead told me that I should take care of the “Wireframes, L3 Business Process Maps, Feature Scope Definitions, Requirements Traceability Matrix and Operating Instructions”, all I could mumble was: “Uuuhm… Yes…?” However, the support given and the trust in my capabilities as a member of the Consultant Development Community (CDC) gave me the impetus to put in effort and swiftly assume ownership of the deliverables and tasks.
Sadly, my role in this fantastic project had to end prematurely due to a temporary halt of my work stream. Nonetheless, I came out of it feeling a whole lot more confident about my skills as a consultant, but also about my knowledge of the UK retail landscape. Moreover, being in the thick of it sparked a new found interest in customer engagement and loyalty programs. My first project at Capgemini showed me how versatile and pro-active a consultant must be and phrases like ‘learn on the go’ and ‘work on the go’ became no longer just words but my career development credos from now on.
And finally, I now make a conscious and informed decision before choosing where to do my grocery shopping – it is not a coin flip anymore; it is careful monthly budgeting (or sometimes self-indulgence…)