What's your full name?
What's your position?
Brand Specialist at Mercedes me Store Melbourne
What are you studying?
I study a Bachelor of Business, with a major in International Business at RMIT.
When will you graduate?
Hopefully in 2020! I started working full time in the middle of my degree as part of the IBL Program and have been juggling studies and work.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Melbourne but I come from a Ukrainian background with both of my parents migrating to Australia in 1991. I was raised to be very active in the Australian Ukrainian community through dancing with the Lehenda Ukrainian Dance Company and attending Ukrainian Saturday school. I am also an active member and currently sit on the Board of the Ukrainian Youth Association in Melbourne. All of these experiences have really broadened my skillset from a young age and put me in good stead to excel in my studies and enter the workforce with confidence.
How did you land your current position and how long have you had it for?
I initially applied for the IBL Program in the Retail Network Development team. Even though it adds another year to your studies, it's an outstanding program that enables students to get a head start in their career in a comfortable and structured environment. You're usually taken up as a cohort with other students into the company so it's nice to feel as though you're part of a team before you even begin your placement.
After almost a year, a Brand Specialist role became available at the Mercedes me Store. Even though it was a big step up from my IBL placement, I felt confident in the challenge to branch out into a more marketing-focused rea. I had a really fantastic manager in the Network Development team who was great at shutting down any doubts I had about my potential career development and it was he who ultimately influenced me to apply for the position. I have now been in the role for almost 9 months and while it has been a learning curve, I have never learnt so much in such a short amount of time and I am very grateful for all the support along the way.
Applying for your job
How did you choose your specialisation (compared to others)?
Studying a general business degree allowed me to experiment with many fields in business such as accounting, marketing, strategic planning and economics. While | enjoyed process orientated work, with a clear right and wrong outcome, I was eager to take on more of a project-based role that would allow me to evolve my interpersonal and project management skills.
Moving into a marketing position empowered me to be a bit more creative and strategic in my thinking whilst still needing to meet certain criteria and measurable expectations.
It is said that individuals can change careers around 10 times in their lifetime, so I don't think I've found my specialty just yet. My main goal is to consistently take on challenging tasks that will push me to learn something new. 'Pigeon-holing' yourself into a narrow job description might make you an expert in a certain field, but working past your comfort zone will give you the best odds of increasing your future professional marketability.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
For my current role, I applied via our internal careers job board and interviewed with my potential manager and another member of the team. The questions were more focused around personality fit in with my new colleagues, soft skills and professional goals and how they aligned with the objectives of the Mercedes me Store.
What are your areas of responsibility?
Working as part of a small team in such a dynamic and versatile environment, it's vital that we have oversight over everything that's happening in store.
One of my biggest focus areas is customer engagement. As a concept space, we aim to interact with people who want to learn more about our brand and the purpose behind Mercedes me. We have a lot of touchpoints around the store that allude to our brand, so making sure that we're present and visible to the public is really important.
Another aspect of customer engagement is hosting standout events that celebrate our passions and key pillars; Art, Design and Innovation, Fashion, Food and Wine, Sport and Community Leadership. Planning, coordinating and executing these events, in addition to our own personal Passion Projects is a key focus area.
I also support the team with administrative tasks such as ensuring that we meet compliance standards, seeking formal feedback from our customers, and general store maintenance
Can you describe a typical workday? What was the last thing you worked on?
Because we trade as a café by day in collaboration with our concept partner ST. ALI, someone will be here to open the store first thing in the morning. Being in the store 5 days a week, it's easy to forget how impactful the space can be for people who are seeing it for the first time, so making sure everything looks impeccable is always top of mind. After a coffee (or two) I'll get stuck into my emails and start planning my day depending on what meetings or events we have on. Set up for an event will start at about 4 pm and run until about 9 pm. It can be very full on at times but the variability in our workload means that no two days are the same, which keeps it exciting!
The last task I worked on was around compliance and the documentation of the store's official processes. I attended formal training and then was tasked with rolling it out on behalf of the Mercedes me team. Even though it was a relatively administrative task, I
always enjoy passing on what I've learnt to others and putting some of my project management skills to test.
What are the career prospects with your job?
Because the Mercedes me Store encompasses all kinds of marketing (events, PR, social and digital media) there is always an opportunity to move laterally and specialise in one of those fields.
There really is no limit, working closely with agencies, the wider marketing team and even other departments, the transparency between our processes and projects give me great insight into what other opportunities are out there.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely! A degree that specialises in marketing would be beneficial, however, considering my background is a general business degree, there's no reason it can't be done. Given the store's uniqueness, there is always room for growth and new ideas, and whether you come from a different department or industry altogether, you'll be likely to add great value to any team.
While 'role-related knowledge is always beneficial in the workplace, having a general level of emotional intelligence and a high degree of communication is arguably most important. In most companies, employees will jump from team to team (or role to role) to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the business. So making it known that you are eager to learn and prepared to take on a new challenge will make you a great asset to any team.
What has been the biggest learning curve for you?
Being able to keep me motivated when working on long-term projects has been a big learning curve for me. After 16 or so years of schooling, it's easy to get in the habit of relying on your teacher or 'mentor' to constantly keep an eye on you and guide you in the right direction. Whereas in the workplace, it's important to realise that while your manager is there to guide you, it's really up to you to empower yourself and take matters into your own hands. Finding how your passion can intertwine with the demands of your job is always a good place to start.
Pros and cons
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
My team! I'm very lucky to work with people who genuinely love the brand and are passionate about the purpose of the store. Being part of a small team, it's great to know that they will have your back and support you along the way.
In terms of my work, being able to roll out amazing events for our customers is one of my favourite aspects of the job. It not only gives me the opportunity to meet amazing individuals and professionals in their fields but also allows us to engage with a constantly evolving audience. It's also really rewarding to see everything come together on the night - we plan for events weeks, if not months, in advance so it's definitely fulfilling to see the final product and be able to celebrate with the team when it's all over!
What are the best aspects of working here?
Being part of a really forward-thinking concept is definitely the most exciting aspect of my job. We are the only Mercedes me Store in the southern hemisphere so it's a big privilege to be able to work here. I am very proud to work for a company that sees value in building a space that allows us to proactively engage our customers. To prioritise a customer's brand experience and devote time, energy and budget to the project is a true testament to our Board of Management. And there's nothing better than being able to talk to people about it.
What are the biggest limitations/challenges of your job?
Ironically it's also the best part of my job - being customer-facing. While it is extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to speak about our space and the brand, the bustle of the store can make it challenging to sometimes put your head down and get other tasks done. It is, however, a small price to pay to be able to work in an award-winning space every day!
A word to the wise...
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don't necessarily have to be related to your role or even be career-focused.
I think it's really important to seek out a mentor especially in the early years of your career; whether it's your manager, a colleague, even someone from another department. It's always good to have someone who can help you navigate through the 'grey area' of work. Stay up to date with what's happening in your industry. Even if you're still at university, try to align your assignments (where possible) with your chosen field. It will provide you with a good foundation of knowledge and data going into job interviews and networking environments. Show up prepared to work each day. This one sounds straightforward but putting aside time to make sure you have all bases covered before you start your day is really important. The days that I think will be stressful tend to run really smoothly and the days that I think will be easy-going will always end up being the most hectic. There is nothing worse than being caught off guard, and if that has taught me anything, it's that preparation is key.