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NBS provided a solid foundation by having a smorgasbord of free development opportunities, ran by brilliant people and all you had to do was show up. It put me in brilliant stead to identify and seek more opportunities when I left uni.

More about Madalyn

Madalyn is a BA (Hons) Business Management and Marketing gradate, currently working as Senior Digital Trading Executive at Dunelm. We caught up with her to find out how things have been going.

Why did you choose to study at Nottingham Trent University (NTU)?

I really loved the feel of Nottingham Business School on the open day. It clearly had a lot of history (Arkwright building) but was also in the modern age (Newton Building). The open day students who studied at the business school were enthusiastic and it was clear they thought it was great course with lots of opportunity. The staff were equally as enthusiastic, speaking about the accreditations that came with the course. None of my family, nor my parents went to university so we had no idea what all the jargon meant but NTU made it easy for us to understand. I also loved the fact there was opportunities to do placements and work with employers on projects (for example E.ON and Thinkubator Challenge).

What did you learn as a Nottingham Business School student?

A key learning that I took away from NBS was that networking gets you everywhere. I smile when I look back, because it feels so cringe the first time you participate in a networking event but the more you flex that muscle, the more comfortable it feels. The benefit comes from, not just the initial meeting element of networking but keeping and maintaining of those relationships throughout the years. This enables you to leverage them when opportunity arises – it’s how I got the job I am in now!

Another learning is that personal and professional development is a lifelong journey/process. I remember so many of my fellow students not wanting to complete their CPD hours. You don’t just stop developing and learning new things when you finish uni…in fact it’s the start! NBS provided a solid foundation by having a smorgasbord of free development opportunities run by brilliant people and all you had to do was show up. It put me in brilliant stead to identify and seek more opportunities when I left uni.

What does your current day involve?

Reporting on category sale performance, pulling reports that allow us to spot opportunities to optimise our website, competitor analysis, looking at opportunities to drive more cash. Customer relationship management, nominating products to feature in emails based on stock levels (this can change a lot before the email gets around to being sent!), how much cash they’re driving and trend.

How has your experience studying at Nottingham Business School helped you in your current role?

It’s given me the theoretical knowledge to feel confident about putting my opinions forward.

What attracted you to this field of work?

I wanted to put my degree to good use and understanding the digital market has been really key for my success.

What challenges have you faced? 

In 2017 I visited Dunelm HQ for the first time and interviewed for their university placement scheme. There was an instant buzz about the place as soon as you walked through the door that had me fall head over heels for the company. I narrowly missed out on the placement role. Fast forward to 2020, I was back interviewing for the graduate scheme. There was that buzzing feeling again and I felt right at home. However I missed out again! Third time’s a charm because last year, I was over the moon to join Dunelm’s Digital Trading team. If you feel something is right, you cannot let it pass you by.

What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?

Some of the biggest highlights are achieving things you thought you couldn’t when you set out of the start. Whether that was delivering a huge product launch during my time at Hillarys, setting up a site-wide A/B test or activating a campaign on the website! I’ve always looked for ‘mentor’ figures everywhere I have worked and believe these are the people who will fight for you in a room of opportunities and push you out your comfort one to help you grow.

The big challenge for me has been knowing my worth. When I graduated in 2020, I took a job for a fairly poor salary just to gain some experience in digital marketing. The salary never really increased that much even when I’d been promoted and had taken on more responsibility and workload. I plucked up the courage and challenged my employer about this, providing examples of local salaries for similar roles in the area which were much higher than my salary! I also looked on Glassdoor at previous salaries of someone in my role at the company which was a few thousand pounds higher. Money talk can make the conversation feel awkward but we need to keep having these conversations, especially as women, to change that!

What are your plans for the future?

I would love to move to another department at Dunelm (perhaps experimentation and website testing as that excites me!) to broaden my knowledge of the company and eventually become a manager.

If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at uni?

I would say…remember to have fun! I had some dark times in my final year where I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a first. Uni is one big experience and it’s okay not to be ‘living your best life’ all the time like so many people did on social media when I was in my final year. You have a job to do.

Madalyn Mathews LinkedIn

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