Beth Newton, Merchandiser, TJX Europe
Beth Newton graduated in 2015 with a BA in Modern Languages with Business. Today she is a Merchandiser for the international company TJX Europe which you’ll know as Homesense and TK Maxx. She talks to us about finding your feet at university and her love of Cuba.
What does a Merchandiser do?
"My role involves the strategic planning and allocation of different product categories across three banners. I currently work on Wall Décor, a Home Interiors department but previously worked on Womenswear and shall soon be moving to Kids and Toys. I work with buyers who go out and buy products, then we make decisions about when and where to ship it. We also look after markdown, ensure the smooth flow of goods to stores and much more! I often visit trade shows with buyers to seek out new trends and our stores to critically evaluate our mix and ensure we are delivering the department vision, which we set out in partnership with buying too.
Although my current role doesn’t require me to use my language skills regularly the company specifically looks for candidates who can speak languages as it's a very international organisation with stores in Germany, Austria and Poland, as well as offices in France, Germany and Italy. That said, my French language skills enabled me to take up training opportunities in the Paris office which were great experiences."
"I never would have done straight business, languages were always my passion and that is what I wanted to study. It was my father who suggested that I take business as well. In hindsight I can see this was very sensible as it laid a great foundation for applications to corporate grad schemes."
Languages is one of the best degrees, because you use your language(s) to study all sorts of things: history, politics, literature, film studies, and so much more. It’s so interesting, like loads of different degrees all rolled into one.
Skills for Success
"The history element of the degree has helped me develop the skill of weighing up different sides of an argument. The modules around politics taught me how to look at things differently and spending time in Cuba during my year abroad really challenged me to consider the way I think.
Another skill was communication, not just communicating in another language but also the skill of understanding what people are really trying to say rather than taking what they are actually saying at face value."
Did your year abroad change you?
"I spent five months in Paris teaching English to Air France staff and also worked at a market research agency assisting on a project relating to luxury goods in the US market.
As French was my weaker language I found my experience in Paris uncomfortable but in a good way, it definitely helped me learn resilience.
Also, moving to another country is challenging. Dealing with French bureaucracy in setting up a bank account, phone contracts and getting an address was hard to say the least! It was constant learning on how to operate outside of your comfort zone.
I lived in Cuba for six months studying at the university. Cuba is like a time warp with all these juxtapositions and contradictions, it's totally different from what people tell you to expect. It was just an amazing learning experience and has definitely changed my outlook on capitalism and what we see as democracy, we could learn a lot from Cuba!"
"I would definitely recommend that new students become a member of a society. I think when you go to university it can be hard to find your feet, and the people who you end up in halls with is random. If by chance you don't find someone who you really click with you might start to feel like there's something wrong with you or maybe this isn't the right place for you, but actually it's just pure luck. So by joining a society you’ll find people who you have something in common with and who share interests with you. I've made lifelong friends and felt most comfortable at The Boat Club.
Also, you’ll never have such great access to so many groups or clubs with everything on your doorstep. Now that I’ve left university, I really missed having something that I love doing right on my doorstep."
When you go to university it can be hard to find your feet. If by chance you don't find someone who you really click with you might start to feel like there's something wrong with you or maybe this isn't the right place for you, but actually it's just pure luck. By joining a society you’ll find people who you have something in common with and who share interests with you.
Staff shout out
"Professor Antoni Kapcia was really interesting. He’s renowned for his Cuba expertise. I loved the way he taught and how he encouraged us to look at things differently. He manages this amazing resource, The Hennessey Collection, which has so many resources including up to 60 year old Cuban newspapers!"
What does success look like?
"Having choices. Also the classic goal of “success is being happy” but I think success is about having choices that allow you to do whatever it is that makes you happy, and not being tied to something you don't want to be doing, personally and professionally."