Alex Sanné

Which company do you work for?


What is your job?

Graduate IT Management Trainee

Where did you go to university and what was your degree?

I did a Theology degree at Kings College London and graduated in 2010.

What was your journey to the Wolseley graduate scheme?

After university I did a number of PR internships in London – I had thought that this would be the right industry for me as I enjoy working with people but I soon realised that it wasn’t. I then went back to my old summer job at B&Q where I stayed for two years. I still enjoyed working with people but realised that I was better suited to an industry that dealt with physical products rather than media concepts and ideas.

I started applying for graduate schemes with positions in head office functions that would build on my experience on the shop floor – Wolseley appealed to me because it was the right sort of industry.

Tell us about your experience of working with Discovery Graduates

I originally applied for an operations position but Discovery recommended that was actually better suited to the Graduate IT Management Trainee and asked me to attend that assessment centre. I thought they were crazy as I had very little technical IT knowledge but they said they were looking for somebody with business experience, who was open minded and could learn quickly. Discovery recognised that it was the right personality and skill set that was more important than technical knowledge – and they were right.

Discovery asked me to trust them. I now know how good they are at matching your skill sets to jobs. I would never ever have thought about applying for the IT role one but I really enjoy it and know it was the right job for me. I would say to other people working with Discovery that if they offer you an opportunity go for it!

I had a single point of contact at Discovery (Mark) so it was a very personalised service and that helped me to have confidence in what they were advising me to do. Mark was genuinely interested in what hadn’t worked before – for example I had fallen at last hurdle a couple of times previously and performed badly at assessment centres. Discovery have a very thorough feedback and scoring system so I was able to build on that – rather than making the same mistakes time and time again. I was also able to contact Mark at any time, including out of hours, before the interview – I’d never had that level of engagement before. You obviously have to help yourself, and do your research and preparation, but knowing there was somebody I could bounce ideas off, and check in with, helped my preparation and confidence massively.

Is the Wolseley graduate scheme what you expected?

Yes – it’s what I expected. It’s the first time they’ve done IT scheme and it was made clear to me from the start that it would evolve during the year. There is a very clear plan about which part of the business I’ll be working in and when, but the detail is determined nearer the time depending on emerging priorities.

For the first three months I’ve been based in Plumb Centres dealing with traders, learning about plumbing and shop systems. Wolseley identified that there was an opportunity to bring in a fresh pair of eyes – but somebody who was experienced on the shop floor and could go in, talk to people on the ground, and feed back to head office. I’m essentially the link between IT and business which makes the most of all of my skill sets.

What was the steepest learning curve on the graduate scheme?

You have to learn very quickly – people will show you the ropes but they’re busy and have their own jobs to do. You need to be proactive – find your key stakeholders and make sure they know you’re there to help. Go to people and talk about options and solutions – have a determination to make yourself useful and make a difference in the business.

Relationships really are the most important thing – followed by learning the jargon and acronyms! For me FSA had always been the Financial Services Authority, now it’s Future-State Architecture!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Again it’s about the people. I get on very well with the other graduates who started at the same time as me. We work in very different areas of the business, and we’re based all over the country, but we have regular catch ups to share how we’re getting on. There’s a very good support network at Wolseley – including a ‘buddy’ (a graduate from the previous year) and business coach. I’m in a privileged position of being able to build an entire team network which I know will be invaluable to both me and the business in the future.

Do you have additional training opportunities?

Yes. Wolseley has an Internal Management Academy which is very good. We go on three-day courses in Leamington Spa covering a range of subjects such as – how to influence people, motivating your team, and managing branch accounts. I’ve also been on optional courses as well such as – presentation skills.

It’s good quality training and there are lots of opportunities if you’re willing to take them. My feeling is that the more information I have about the business overall, the better job I can do – so a breadth of training is important.

What would your advice be to students or recent graduates who are looking for a job?

  1. You need experience – it doesn’t matter if it relates to your degree but get experience in what you’re interested in.
  2. Find out what you’re good at – people, numbers, etc. Ask yourself how you want to work and then marry that with what you‘re interested in.
  3. Think about which industry do you want to work in. I started in PR and hated it. Now I’m in the right industry in a head office function which I really enjoy.
  4. Do your research. Learn about the industry and the business before your interview. Look at share prices and business history – whether you’re going for a financial position or not. Show that you’ve done more, and know more, than the average graduate.