Waking up at 5:30 to get ready to get on a train to Crewe wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I came home from University for the summer holidays, but when I finally found my phone to turn that God awful alarm clock off I was eager to find out what was in store for me when I got to Swansway Group Head Office.
I had been to Head Office once before to meet Mr. Smyth and Rachael Monfredi , HR Director, to discuss my work experience. As a Business student currently studying at Durham University, being able to experience what the day-to-day operation of an established business such as Swansway Group is something few people my age can say they have done. Plus, it would look fantastic on my CV when it comes to looking to my future. The fact that Swansway is family owned and run also intrigued me as I was fascinated to see how that changed the running of the company and how it affected the culture within the company. Being able to cross-reference this with things I have learned after my first year of university would provide me with a sound base of business knowledge and hopefully make me employable!
When I arrived at Head Office, I was slightly apprehensive because I haven’t a clue where I am going or what I am doing. Amanda from came to meet me and gave me a tour of head office and introduced me to everyone within all of the various departments within Head Office. What impressed me straight away was that Amanda had a near encyclopaedic knowledge of everyone at Head Office. What impressed me further is that everyone was so friendly and welcoming and more than happy to have a quick chat with me.
I was sat down in HR and introduced to the rest of the team: Lyndsey, Natasha and Tara and was then put to work straight away! I enjoyed this as the common conception of work experience is you sit in the corner, make cups of tea, do some meaningless odd jobs and generally keep yourself to yourself. However here I was getting an actual taste for what a member of the HR team would do!
I was set the task of doing background checks for all 850 employees at Swansway, making sure they had either a photocopy of their passport or a full birth certificate. I never realised how many people that was until about 3pm on the Tuesday afternoon when I realised I was nearly halfway through! Lyndsey and Amanda explained that the overall aim of the HR team is to aid all employees and make their lives as easy as possible. From recruitment, to training to managing holidays and sickness – this all requires a lot of knowledge and great people skills.
On Thursday I was given the chance to go into the Fleet Department where the brilliant Sarah Eccles, Fleet Director, was to be in charge of me for the day. It was interesting, again, to see a side of the business I knew very little about. I understood (or at least I thought I did, more on that later) the process of buying a car as a customer however, in Fleet they handle business to business contracts. Sarah was really good at explaining the various processes and the lessons learnt were invaluable and something I feel very lucky to have experienced. My thanks go to Sarah and her team!
I can’t mention my experience at Fleet without Henry, or ‘Big H’. Perhaps the loveliest person I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting and also one of the funniest! I spent the morning shadowing Henry, seeing what he did on a daily basis. He is responsible for checking the cars to see if they are compliant with standards and that they are ready to be delivered to the end user. A big thanks to Henry and all of the team down there, they really optimise what I believe work should be like (and what the Swansway ‘way’ is) to work hard but have fun. Your work colleagues are like extended family members and there absolutely no harm with whistling whilst you work.
Friday saw me get a chance on the front line. I was on the floor in one of the Swansway Group dealerships, Crewe Audi and John Oakley, Aftersales Manager, was my mentor for the day.0 John wanted to make sure I had an info packed, well rounded day and he and his team went above and beyond in talking to me about what they did and being so warm and approachable. I got to spend time with each department from workshop team carrying out services, to time with the parts department, they are central to the aftersales process, if they order the wrong parts at the wrong time the whole thing “goes to pot”.
In the afternoon I got to spend time with the administration, accounts and sales teams. This helped me understand how everyone’s roles integrate together to make for a superb buying experience for each customer. Thank you to everyone at Crewe Audi for their time.
Week 2 saw me return to the HR office. This time around I was charged with the task of inputting data from holiday request forms. Another nice touch in terms of the culture here at Swansway is that after a year’s service you get your birthday off, I think that’s a very thoughtful thing to do. After finally getting to end of the pile of holiday sheets, Amanda then asked me to look into the induction process at Swansway and see, with a little research, what was being done well and what could be improved and how well they were complying with legislation. Not only did I find this interesting but to be trusted with what I thought Prashant to be quite a complex and important task was a really great feeling and it was a task I very much enjoyed doing.
Towards the end of week 2, I got the chance to be with the marketing team. Marketing is the area I felt I had the most knowledge about prior to starting my work experience at Swansway and I enjoyed the module I had done at University so I was really excited to see what they had in store for me. Yet again I was greeted by such lovely people who made me feel welcome instantly! Straight away I was let loose on the Swansway website and their social media accounts, very much playing to my strengths as a very stereotypical teenager who cannot live without a smartphone and Wi-Fi. The girls are very creative and put some great content on all of their platforms, so the standards were high, I hope my posts were of use! I was also then asked to look at their social media and give my opinion on their activity and their customers. Again this made me feel quite important as it allowed me to use my knowledge and do a bit of research into something I’m interested in, my thanks again to Swansway as not a lot of people get to do a great deal on Work Experience. The tasks I’ve got to do and the knowledge I have gained as a result has provided me some great skills that I believe will develop me as a person and as a potential employee.
I have had such an amazing time, getting to meet and talk to some very intelligent and well qualified people, learned a lot about business in general and the specifics that make the motor industry the rare beast it is.
The main thing I’ll take from my experience is the attitude Swansway have towards its staff. They are part of the extended family and they are all respected and valued for their contribution. There is plenty of scope for development (it’s actively encouraged) and everyone genuinely loves coming into work every morning. My final thanks to everyone I’ve come into contact with during my time here, I wish you all well and hopefully I shall see you soon!