Gabriella Kyriacou

Why did you choose a Degree Apprenticeship over a degree?

I chose a degree apprenticeship over a standard pathway degree because it integrates both practical and ‘on-the-job’ learning with university study. From this, I knew I could acquire the knowledge and skills needed to accomplish a degree, but also really progress in my business career. I like to visualise it as a bridge between academia and the real business world.

What was your experience of the application process? Do you have any tips for others going through the application process? 

The application process was challenging! I had only applied to one Degree Apprenticeship scheme (Mondelez) as I felt as though I really connected with the business values and ethos. Mondelez had 500+ applicants, and there were only 3 spaces – therefore the application process was varied to test different skills and attributes of different applicants. There were several rounds to the process: there was a day dedicated to psychometric assessments – the focus on this was to understand how our brains think and respond to situations or patterns. As well as this, we also engaged in group workshops, presentations and an interview.My tip for others going through the application process is don’t be afraid of being yourself! Let your personality, authenticity and personal accomplishments and achievements shine through.

Tell us about a typical day at Mondelez? 

I’m currently a Sales Development Executive at Mondelez. I am Central London based, where I have 128 independent retailers that I visit every month. My job is to build a commercial relationship with these retailers, consult merchandising recommendations, and sell-in volumes! All these aspects ensure that retailers have an optimum product range which has both commercial benefits, but also helps retailers grow their businesses further. Every day is completely different at Mondelez and its great! Different customers have different needs – albeit advice on merchandising principles in store, how to achieve higher margins and even advice on optimal promotional methods. My approach would be tailored to fit these needs. 

Is there a project you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of? What did it involve?

Yes – there’s been loads! One that I am particularly proud of is introducing a Competitor Innovation Update to the whole business.

My first rotation on this scheme was in Category Development, where I looked at analysing macro trends, and detailed analysis and insight on category opportunities, as well as comprehensive performance updates. Whilst I was in this role, I realised that whilst we place great focus on how Mondelez brands are performing, we were not as great at understanding what our competitors are launching/their campaigns to try and seize market share.

Therefore, I put together a monthly deck that outlines competitor’s recent launches, competitor campaign and activations, as well as a performance tracker of these launches. The wider business found this initiative so helpful and insightful, it was replicated across all other category departments. In fact, even now that I have left that current job rotation the initiative is still in place!

Have you found any aspect of the Degree Apprenticeship challenging? 

For me, the most challenging part is finding the optimum balance of work, study and social. It’s almost as though there is no set balance as the demands of each constantly change. When there are deadlines at university, it is natural that more time and energy is focused on achieving these targets. Alternatively, when university requirements are a bit less pressuring, I know that I will be able to commit to further responsibilities at work. It’s all about harmonising different demands!

What have you found most rewarding?

The amount I learn! There is nothing greater than learning something in a classroom, of which you can then apply to in the real world in business. It feels as though I am constantly learning and adopting different perspectives – which is entirely beneficial to both my career and studying. However, that isn’t to say that receiving my first ‘proper’ paycheque wasn’t as equally rewarding!

What would you say to others who are considering a Degree Apprenticeship?

Grasp the opportunity with open arms, not only do you gain an incredible qualification, but the experience you gain is invaluable. I’ve really enjoyed the programme so far, the commercial acumen I’ve gained – as well as the professional relationships I have made – has made me beyond grateful that such an amazing scheme exists!