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University of Sydney
Category strategy and development manager
Will Studied Bachelor of Commerce at University of Sydney
What's your name and job title? What did you study?
I’m Will Longman and I am currently a category strategy and development manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G). I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney in 2015.
Where have you lived throughout your life?
I grew up in Sydney, and have lived here for most of my life. I went on student exchange for six months in the Netherlands. I moved to Brisbane when I first joined P&G and spent seven months there in a field based sales role.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
On return from my student exchange with little time left to complete my degree, I started applying for internships. During my interview at P&G I quickly realised how much I wanted to work there and be a part of the team. I started as an intern over that summer, and was then offered a graduate role to start after I completed my final year of university. My first role was based on the road as a business development manager, before being made an account manager for one of Australia’s largest retailers. I was promoted to my current role in category strategy and development a few months ago and I’m learning a lot!
How did you choose your specialisation?
When I started applying for internships I applied for a few companies that interested me. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do when I graduated, so I used the internship as a chance to see whether P&G was right for me. After only a few weeks I realised that I wanted to start my career at P&G, and when it came to apply for graduate jobs I only applied there.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
P&G has a structured recruitment process which is designed to help them understand what you can offer across a range of aspects. After submitting the initial application, I completed an online assessment which looks for a fit between the applicant, and the values and culture of the company. I then sat the reasoning test in the P&G office, which measures how you analyse and solve problems. After this I had a one-on-one interview followed by a panel interview. During the interviews, I was asked a range of behavioural-based questions where I could share times that I had led a team, made a significant contribution, or overcome challenges during my time at university and high school.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
Studying commerce gave me good foundational knowledge for my role, however I believe that the most important thing is what you do outside of university. Getting good grades is a start, however going on exchange, having a part-time job, travelling, and volunteering are all great ways to develop yourself as a person and make yourself stand out.
What does your employer do?
P&G is a fast-moving consumer goods company which creates many of the products you use every day. Some of our most well known brands include Gillette, Olay, Pantene, Oral-B and Head & Shoulders.
What are your areas of responsibility?
P&G sells products to Australia’s largest retailers, and we work in partnership with our retailers to leverage P&G brands to grow the retailer’s category, with examples including hair care, oral care and shave care. It is my role to work with our retailers to develop a strategy for the total category, and for how they can maximise their growth and take advantage of the trends that are occurring in the market.
Can you describe a typical work day?
I get in early and go through emails, and then the rest of the day could be a variety of work. I might be working on a presentation to one of our retailers, analysing market sales data, or attending meetings with our customer teams. I also travel a lot for my role, which is great as it means I’m not behind my desk every day of the week.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
If you’re passionate about what you do and are determined to succeed, then you will do well at P&G. We are a dynamic and evolving company so if you are open to continuous learning and agile to adapt to change, then you’ll be able to make the most out of your career here. The opportunities are endless right from day one.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
The great thing about P&G is that we have a ‘build from within’ culture. Most of our people start at an entry level and then progress and prosper throughout the organisation. This drives a culture of coaching, challenging, and shaping our people into P&G leaders of today and tomorrow. With real responsibilities from day one I’ve already had three roles since joining the company, and there’s always opportunities to progress in the company into new roles, even beyond our borders to Singapore, Geneva, Japan, and the US.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes – we have a broad variety of backgrounds at P&G. If you have a well-rounded skill set, and share our values of trust, integrity, leadership, passion for winning, and ownership, then you can succeed at P&G.
What do you love the most about your job?
The thing I love most about my job is that it’s constantly changing. As a market leader, we have access to numerous data sources and consumer insight studies, so I enjoy analysing consumer trends and seeing how P&G can meet Australian shopper needs.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Are the stress levels high?
There are no limitations working at P&G however one of the most challenging elements is the steep learning curve. As soon as you leave university you’re valued for the unique contribution you can make to the company, and not seen as just a grad on constant rotational programs. Whilst there’s a lot to learn, and pressure that naturally comes with that, every manager I’ve had has been extremely supportive. They are there to help you grow and develop along the way.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I’m not sure, there are endless possibilities. If there was a way I could travel the world and get paid for it – I’d be there!
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?
- Get out of your comfort zone: Take part in experiences that make you uncomfortable, because those are the things that you’ll look back on and make you glad that you took part.
- Look after yourself: Spend plenty of time with your mates, exercise, and eat well. If it’s all study and work, and you forget about having balance in your life, then you won’t be able to make the most out of your time at university.
- Travel: University is the best time to travel and see the world. You won’t get as many holidays when you’re working, so take advantage of that spare time and go and travel!