The first few weeks? Whirlwind springs to mind, but that was great as I got in to things straight away. When I look back now, it was such a good way to start a new job and get up to speed quickly.
I started on a Monday in Cwmbran. The first few days in Proxima are generally there for orientation, you get kitted out and meet the team. In Cwmbran there is a procurement team and an operations center, it’s quite a dynamic environment, and there were a lot of people who could tell me what to expect. I also was assigned my Career Manager and “Buddy”, the former is there for career advice and development, the latter is more of an informal support, someone I can go to with all sorts of questions as I learn my way around. Mine were brilliant in those first few weeks, answering all my questions and helping me build an understanding of Proxima and what being a Proximite is all about.
By the end of the week, I was assigned my first client, but before that, we had the Proxima annual conference, which was a great networking opportunity. At the conference, the whole company comes together for a day of information, activities and fun. It wasn’t just the UK either as our US team had all flown in for the event. It was easy to meet people as we were divided up into teams for activities during the day and dinner in the evening. I did stop and think that I was five days into my procurement career and here I was practicing code breaking and axe throwing with a colleague from Chicago.
With the conference under my belt, I was then straight into the five day Introduction to Consulting course alongside a few more experienced Proximites, and the other UK and US grads. Proxima has its own consulting toolkit and the course was a great way to learn about consulting and spend time with colleagues. It’s quite intense, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone. But it’s really enjoyable, and looking back after a few months, I can see that I have used many of the skills I learned, and the role playing aspect of the course helped bring the theory to life in a safe training environment.
At the beginning of my third week, I was onto my first client. I was working directly with one of the principle consultants, delivering a procurement strategy that they had built with their stakeholders. Most of the team are specialists so you also feel like you are learning on the job, not only picking up insights about suppliers, but also tips and tricks as well as putting into place those analytical and presentation skills that we learned on the training. You feel instantly like you are a valued team member and making a difference, I think that’s partly the people and partly the responsibility that you are given.
One of the great things about the organization is that as a new starter, I’ve worked across a lot of different categories and clients in my first year. I learned that all are different and have their own unique challenges. I will also get the opportunity to specialize as I progress, becoming an expert in a particular category or consulting discipline. There is a lot to learn, but a lot of people to learn from. The company is also supporting me through my professional development. I am being sponsored through CIPS exams (the industry standard qualification).
So the first few weeks? Like I wrote, whirlwind springs to mind, but I couldn’t think of a better way to start…