BA Business and Management
2013 Graduate, Aftersales Programmes & Retention Manager, McLaren Automotive
Harry, how did you select the programme, and what made you choose to study at Henley?
‘During my final sixth form year at school, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in business management, so I looked around for a suitable course, and the Reading/Henley course offered a breadth and depth of study that appealed to me.
‘I came to visit the campus, and the new facilities, combined with the reviews I’d seen online from existing students and analysts, convinced me that this was the right choice for me.’
And was the course what you expected?
‘Well not entirely, but in a good way! There wasn’t originally a placement year option on the course, but during my second year, I began to think that perhaps it would be useful to get some real work experience. Three of my friends on the course also wanted to do placements, so we convinced the university to allow us to do it as part of the programme.*
‘I’ve always had a passion for cars, so I applied to a number of automotive manufacturers that operate UK head offices and manufacturing plants, and I was delighted to be offered placements at both Bentley and BMW.’
“I learned so much in those four years, in what was a fantastic, supportive environment.”
So tell us about the placement
‘I opted for BMW in the end, working on a major project to relocate the national parts distribution facility for BMW and MINI in the UK, and for Rolls Royce globally. So I was thrown in at the deep end, with the responsibilities and recognition I would have had as a permanent employee. It was a challenging role, but one from which I gained so much valuable experience. And it was a bonus that I was kept on for the summer, so I could earn some extra money before returning to university. I kept in touch with a lot of the people at BMW during my final year at university too, so it was a great opportunity for me to start building up my network.’
And what happened once you had graduated?
‘I secured a full-time role at BMW, and for the next three years or so, I moved up through a series of roles including Service Development Exec, Business Intelligence Manager and Customer Retention Manager. I then decided it was time to gain some experience outside of BMW an made the move to McLaren Automotive to manage the global programmes that drive aftersales customer retention. I have been in my current position for seven months and am enjoying the challenge that working in a very young, fast paced but successful business brings with it.’
So how important was your experience at Henley in helping you on your journey?
‘It was essential. I realised that the more you put in, the more you get out of it. It will give you the confidence to achieve things you didn’t think possible. I never previously felt comfortable presenting to a group, but over time, I’ve developed the ability to do so without worrying too much and this is a skill that is vital in any large business these days.
“Never be afraid to ask for help and guidance.”
‘My advice to any student thinking about the course would be to really embrace it. Build relationships with those around you, including the experienced staff. Get involved in the other activities the university offers. It will reap rewards for you.’