Business graduate insight: Cameron
Cameron has been part of the Ocado Group Business Management graduate scheme for two years, and is currently making an impact in Product Management. This is his story.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Cameron Simpson, I’m 25 years old, and I’m from Essex in the UK. I went to Northampton University between 2017 and 2020, and studied International Development.
Outside of work, I enjoy running and swimming, and I’m a big fan of Sunderland football club (I know, it’s tough!). I enjoy keeping up with the world of football, as well as F1.
Which scheme are you on and which rotations have you completed?
I am on the graduate Business Management scheme here at Ocado, in my 2nd year. My first rotation was in Logistics, where I worked as a CFC analyst. CFCs are our Customer Fulfilment Centres - the large-scale smart warehouses that form a major part of the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP). My job there was to look at the plans used to run day to day operations and spot trends that would require additional headcount to support in the CFC.
After this, I rotated into Group Ops/Emerging Talent, where I worked to strengthen Ocado’s pre-onboarding strategy, as well as conducting data analysis on the previous recruitment campaign. We also were involved in organising the Emerging Talent Conference, and the 2022 Induction Week.
What is your current rotation and what does a typical day look like for you?
After Emerging Talent, I moved into Advanced Technology. There are two main departments in AT - Blue and Green Robotics. I sit within Green Robotics. Since October 2022, I have been the Product Manager for the PaC team. This team looks at the challenge of robotic packing with our On Grid Robotic Pick technology.
My job as a PM is to understand the problem space (for me it is packing), and identify the most prominent problems that, if solved, would provide the most value to the overall product. At a high level, I may begin exploring a problem, and understanding how often it occurs, why it might occurs, and what would potentially happen if we solved the problem. Would we be quicker, would we fail less, would we be able to pack more? From this, I would then look to see what the financial benefit might be by solving this problem. If our robot could pack quicker, for example, how much money could be saved? I then write a CDD (Capability Definition Document), which acts as a kickoff document, outlining the problem, and the value in solving it. This would be presented, and once agreed with engineering teams it gets committed to a roadmap. A roadmap outlines at a high level what the team will be working on, and when we expect the work to be delivered. This might range from an MVP (minimum viable product), to a fully developed production-ready solution.
My day to day job includes logging on and catching up on messages, then I have a ‘stand up’ (meeting) at 10am, where the team goes through their assigned tickets, updates the group on the status of the work, and outlines what they will look at today. This is a good opportunity for Product and Engineering managers to stay up to date on what is going on, any blockers, and making sure what is being worked on is on the right path.
After stand up, my day usually consists of a lot of meetings. These meetings are usually with other stakeholders, PMs from across AT, or across tech streams to discuss certain problems. Part of a PMs job is to communicate and advocate for the work your team is currently doing.
PMs act as the mouthpiece for the team, and help align with other teams on certain pieces of work too. If I’m not in meetings, I would usually be exploring problem areas, looking at data, and reading confluence pages. Gathering this information allows me to better understand the size of the problem, and also allows me to document it in a CDD if necessary. Part of my day job might include unblocking certain things for my team. This might be missing hardware, data, requests of certain teams to help support our current work.
Away from team work, I will also find time to focus on self development. A good PM always needs to be learning, and so I will take some time to read about the craft of Product Management. I have recently gained access to some online training materials which I will explore in order to improve my product craft.
No day is ever the same in Product Management. I always have something on my plate, and the landscape can change quickly.
Why did you apply for an Ocado Group graduate scheme?
I applied to the Ocado Graduate scheme because I loved the look of the company. Like many people, I didn’t understand that Ocado Group was a technology company, and that Ocado Retail was the online grocery business. I used to work in supermarkets as a teenager, and thought applying myself to grocery would be a good way to start a career.
Ocado Group, and the business management scheme as a whole provide such variability in the types of placements you can do. For somebody that did not have a burning passion to do one particular job forever, this was a fantastic way for me to try out a few different options in an interesting and fast-paced business. I have been able to learn a host of different skills, which I may not have had the chance to learn without the grad scheme.
Where do you see the Ocado Group graduate scheme taking you?
Who knows, right? I am a big believer in ‘things happen for a reason’. I do believe that the grad scheme has set me up with some great work experience and contacts to do a whole host of things. I hope to stay at Ocado and explore more of what it has to offer.
What advice would you give to someone applying to this scheme?
Ocado is a very interesting business. From Logistics to Solutions and partnership management to building robots. There is so much to explore here at Ocado. I would encourage anyone to explore as much as possible. Sometimes it can feel a bit daunting trying to get up to speed in a placement, but trust the process, and trust yourself. You can achieve some amazing things on the grad scheme, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you can do that, you will thrive!
Change your world with us
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