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My first year as a Graduate Commercial Analyst at AO

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My first year at AO by Commercial Analyst, Patrick Baldasera.

A little over a year ago I graduated from university with a degree in Psychology and found myself looking to take that first step onto the career ladder. During my studies, I found the most compelling aspect of my course to be the analytical component; conducting an experiment and running statistical tests to yield new, useful insights was something I really enjoyed. Aside from this, I’d always taken an interest in business, and having gained this experience in data analysis I was keen to apply these skills in a commercial environment.

I came across a Commercial Analyst role here at AO, which seemed to me the perfect chance to put my analytical skills to the test. Reading more into the company culture, I was excited by the fast-paced, forward-thinking environment I could be working in, and so I applied.

Initially I had a telephone phone interview, which turned out to be an informal chat about myself and the role. Shortly after, I was invited for a face-to-face interview. Visiting the offices for the first time, I was immediately impressed; not only by the modern offices (and free drinks and snacks!) but by the people I met too, who were incredibly welcoming and genuinely interested to get to know me. I left feeling great, and to my delight I was offered the job a few days later.

And so, I took the plunge and moved 100 or so miles from home in Sunderland down to the North West. This was daunting to move away from my friends and family, but the opportunity I’d been given was so exciting it was easy to take the plunge. In the first few weeks, I was encouraged to meet people from around the business and learn about what they do. This greatly contributed to my understanding of how the business operates and where my role fits within it all. As well as this, the Commercial team were great in supporting me in the first few weeks of the role, getting me to grips with the fundamentals of business and how data analysis can provide invaluable insight to drive value in all areas of the business.

One of the aspects of the role I love is the autonomy I’m given to carry it out. The management trust you not only to provide analysis, but also to suggest subsequent actions to be taken and taking complete ownership over their implementation. This takes the role way beyond just “number-crunching”. Often, it’s necessary for me to liaise with other departments in acquisition, logistics, finance and trade to drive the business forward. Furthermore, with the hands-on experience I’m gaining in the role, I’m constantly developing my skills on platforms such as Excel, SQL, Python and Power BI.

A fantastic opportunity that AO offer that I’ve undertaken is the offer to sponsor you to study the CIMA professional qualification, with the view to becoming a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Through studying for CIMA I’ve learned more about areas such as economics, financial reporting and different analysis techniques that have helped to round my knowledge of business and excel as a Commercial Analyst. Juggling both work and studying has been tough, as studying the courses is done out of work hours. However, this is eased by the fact AO support you with 2 revision days leave from work for each exam, which has proven the perfect relief to help me manage my studies so far. Having recently passed the certificate level of the qualification, I’m already benefitting from what I’ve learned, and am excited by the career opportunities this will open in the future.

Aside from the personal development and autonomy I’ve gained, AO has a fantastic culture and certainly lives up to its fun, people-first values! There’s plenty going on in the building; the Park is equipped with table tennis, a pool table and a PS4 to blow off some steam away from your desk. AO also subsidise the cost of plenty of events, such as sports events, cinema nights and beer festivals so there’s always something for the team to look forward to. For instance, recently I took part in Tough Mudder which was subsidised for AOers. Loads of us took on the challenge and thankfully made it round in one piece! It was a difficult challenge, but a brilliant experience and something I’d certainly recommend giving a go!

In our department, we recently we had our sports day where everyone gets together to compete in sports events for the bragging rights of the 3rd floor! As a department, we often do stuff outside of work. Most recently, we’ve played crazy golf and been go-karting (which got slightly competitive!) and will often go out for food and drinks at the weekend. I also must mention the Christmas Party where AOers from all over the country come together for a great night of entertainment, with food, drinks and travel all provided! Having such a fun culture makes us work well together as a team and has helped me settle in my first year here.

Overall, I’m certain I made the right decision in joining AO – I’ve met some great people and I’m constantly learning and developing in my role as a Commercial Analyst. Better still, the future only looks more exciting! If you’re interested in a similar role at AO, put in an application as soon as possible – you definitely don’t want to miss out.