Delegate, in-house leadership programme M&S BUILD
Seven months ago, Nicky was at a cross-roads. She had started a Deputy Manager role at M&S, but felt like she should be striving for more. The problem was, she didn’t know what ‘more’ looked like, and couldn’t find the confidence within herself to try and discover it.
Then, she did two things that set her on a path towards alignment.
First, she signed up to run a half-marathon – something she had wanted to do for years, but had always been too afraid of failing at. But she didn’t fail – she got over that finish line and succeeded at something she had feared. On the back of that win, she decided to do something else that scared her – she applied for the M&S BUILD programme, and experienced another win when she was accepted onto the course. That decision would turn out to be, in her words, “absolutely life-changing”.
“At the start of the programme they told us that if we really invested in the programme, we would get the most out of it – and that is absolutely true. If you give 100%, you will get it right back.”
Nicky did just that. Across four separate masterclasses, discussion with her home group, and 1:1 coaching, she immersed herself in the experience. This is what she had to say about it…
“It was totally different to anything we had done before at M&S – the masterclasses, the pace, the energy, the home groups, the content. I felt really invigored by it all and felt like I was really being stretched.”
Through the process, she learnt tools for living an extraordinary life that she will never forget.
“The work we did on creating our Life Vision is something I will take with me through the rest of my career, whatever I do. I know it will change and evolve, but it really covers all bases – personal and professional. If anything feels out of balance, I can just go to my Life Vision plan and evaluate where I am and how I need to adjust. I’ve been so enamoured by that, and have shared a lot of the leadership tools with people around me.”
In fact, Nicky has already created a legacy based off of the work she did during BUILD. Through sharing her learning, she has helped individuals…
“Someone came to me during their check in and they felt a bit lost. I immediately got my BUILD stuff out and went through a few things with them. I gave them some tools to go away and work through. He was at a point where he didn’t know what he wanted from life, or whether he wanted to stay at M&S. He was at a crossroads – and I could really relate to that.”
…and has had a huge impact on her team.
“Last week, the regional manager came to visit my old store and assess the team. Anyone will tell you those visits can be really deflating if they don’t go well, and I had just moved across to a new store so couldn’t be there in person. But I had spent months setting that team up with new tools and ways of working. They had really taken it all on board and gotten in a great routine with it. After the manager’s visit, I got a call from one of my old team members to say that they had had the best visit. They had taken on board everything I had shown them, and said that they couldn’t have done it without me – that I had set them up for success. I was so happy, but it really made me wonder – could I have done that if not for BUILD? Something tells me probably not. For me, it was about giving my team space and autonomy to be the best leaders they could be.”
But the transformation has not only been with her team. Through her 1:1 coaching, Nicky learnt what it meant to be an authentic leader.
“On a personal level, I’ve always felt like people believed in me, but I have never truly believed in myself. My coach helped me to discover a set of values that feel true to who I am. She brought those aspects of me to life and I am so grateful for that. The thing I keep telling everyone now – the biggest thing BUILD has taught me – is to really trust your authenticity as a leader. I have already seen the effects of leading this way, and I am more excited than ever about my future career.”
Just as she should be. Since her programme, Nicky has not only found her authenticity, and helped her team, she has also increased her network and achieved a significant promotion.
“I don’t think I would have applied for that job if not for BUILD. I reached out to people in preparation for that interview that I never would have had the courage to before. Not only has my network increased through my cohort, but I now feel that I can add real value to senior leaders who I used to see way above me.”
When asked if she felt the programme was worth it, Nicky said…
“The investment that a company can give someone by putting them through this programme – you simply can’t put a price on it. I feel extremely privileged that I was invested in like that, and I will take it with me for the rest of my life.”