BA (Honours) International Business with French, Class of 2002
Martin works at Beats by Dr Dre as the senior commercial manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
What happened after I graduated
'After uni I did some volunteer work in South Africa and then lived in Spain for a while, before coming back to the UK and getting a job at Comet's head office. I spent three years there in various departments before I was approached by Dixons for a buying role.
'I spent about 18 months at Dixons before I decided I wanted to work for a manufacturer, as the potential to work in an international business environment was far greater. Given most consumer electronics brands sell to retailers, positioning myself as someone who understood retail inside out meant I was an interesting candidate.
'I began working for Kodak in 2008 as their UK product manager for digital cameras. In the five years I spent at Kodak I went from looking after cameras in the UK to eventually looking after all of Kodak’s digital products in the European region. This involved a lot of travel, working with people from different countries (I had two French bosses) and getting a really good understanding of the consumer electronics market in Europe.
'In June 2013 I moved to Beats by Dr Dre where I became the senior commercial manager for Europe.'
What my job involves
'Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented people. I’ve visited some fascinating places and experienced things I’d never have otherwise seen. I’ve always been a believer in hard work, but if you’re lucky enough to work in an industry you love, the journey will be a lot more enjoyable!
'At Beats we're dealing with the massive growth of the brand in a very short period of time. Strangely, when a business is in rapid growth, many of the issues are the same as when a business is in decline. It's getting your business the right size for your revenue and getting your partners to adjust their business models accordingly. It’s just more enjoyable when you’re growing.
'I think my biggest success to date would be launching Kodak’s range of pocket video cameras in Europe. I changed how we launched, who we partnered with and pushed for a greater focus on social media. The result was that my launch plan was rolled out across the region and the range became the most profitable line in our digital portfolio.'
How Sheffield Hallam helped me
'I think I took away three important lessons from my studies at Sheffield
- There’s no question a business degree helped open a few doors early on, but the fact the focus was on international business, and the fact I’d lived and worked abroad for a considerable part of my degree certainly helped when I decided to move into an international organisation.
- Having language skills is a great addition. For me, the priority was always the business side first and language second, but having a second (or third!) language will set you apart from a great number of other candidates. Also, when I graduated I knew nobody who had spent so much time abroad. That seemed unique to Sheffield Hallam and I felt it put graduates in an incredibly advantageous position.
- My time in France really took me out of my comfort zone, especially the first six months of study. Initially, I found the lessons very hard to follow and integration with the French students was difficult, but rather than just accept it quietly, a few of us decided to tackle it full on. We approached students in our classes, we invited ourselves on nights out and we integrated.
'The result – we made loads of friends, our French improved tenfold and those six months were probably the most enjoyable of the four-year course. Yes, we all messed up a few times and embarrassed ourselves on an almost daily basis, but who cares – it was all part of the fun. I think that taking a proactive approach to challenges was one of the most important things that experience taught me. It’s also an invaluable lesson for anyone starting out their career.
A word to the wise
- "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Have a think about what you like, what motives and excites you and consider jobs in that domain. A business and language degree is broad enough to open lots of doors and while it’s tempting early in your career just to apply for anything, remember that you could end up in a sector that just doesn’t interest you. If you enjoy your job, you’re more likely to succeed at it.
- Mahatma Gandhi said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Although I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about graduate employment at the time, the sentiment holds true. Those first few years when you begin work are incredibly important for building your reputation. Work hard, impress those who need to be impressed and be professional. While you may be doing mundane work at times, your ability to show enthusiasm, motivation and a desire to learn won’t go unnoticed.
- Stay positive. Getting that first role may take time. There are lots of things you can do to make yourself more employable in this period, but staying in your underwear all day aimlessly applying for hundreds of jobs online isn’t one of them!'