Case study

Commodity manager — Bill McLoughlin

Just months after graduating Bill is negotiating high spend contracts and traveling internationally for the world's largest offshore wind farm

How did you get your job?

In the third year of my business and applied management degree at the University of Sunderland, I completed a year-long industrial placement with car manufacturer Nissan. During this placement I developed a strong set of skills that enabled me to effectively manage the procurement process, implementing strategies to optimise cost, quality, and delivery performance. 

After graduation, one of the senior managers from Nissan, who had recently moved to work at GE Vernova, contacted me via LinkedIn to discuss a job opportunity as a commodity manager, which is my current role. 

The role was new and they needed someone who had experience sourcing throughout Europe, which is what I did during my placement year. I had experience with inbound logistics, negotiating the contracts for parts from all over the world into the UK. My experience was gained following Brexit and during COVID-19, which was problematic due to the newly placed restrictions and gaining this experience enabled me to stand out.

How relevant is your degree?

Studying applied business management developed my understanding and experience of dealing with different people in various environments and circumstances. Some of the theories I studied were particularly useful to me, for example the Thinking Hats theory impacts the way I now deal with customers and colleagues, particularly in negotiations, as I can read the room well.

What's a typical working day like?

My role is hybrid so I work from home but I also work from the Dogger Bank windfarm site. Despite my location, every morning starts with a team meeting, online or in person. During the team meeting I provide updates on recent developments, their progress and key actions going forward. My mornings are heavily involved in liaising with colleagues and suppliers, receiving requests for new supplies. Mid morning onwards I have supplier and strategy meetings with the management team, negotiating contracts and supplies.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have so much control over how the business operates, negotiating high spend contracts, interactions with suppliers and cost analysis, I enjoy that responsibility. I like the challenge of ensuring the company isn't over spending and that it's getting the best price for everything. A big bonus of my role is that I get to travel to some beautiful places and experience a variety of cultures. In the short time I've been in post, I've travelled to Istanbul, Bil Bou, Barcelona, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Nantes networking with suppliers and industry leaders, attending conferences and retreat days.

What are the challenges?

My role is demanding due to tight deadlines, with short notice requests adding pressure. If a task is not complete within time limits, wind turbines are not fully functional and may be turned off resulting in the company not making money.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I would like to stay with GE Vernova. I'm currently in middle management but I would like to be in a more senior position, with more responsibility and running a large team.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Consider a one year placement scheme, I believe it benefits graduate success substantially.
  • Be open minded to different experiences as a student, consider every opportunity presented to you and get as much experience as you can.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile and spend time updating it. Treat LinkedIn as your professional social media, as without LinkedIn I may not be where I am today.
  • Do research within your area of interest, attend conferences and networking events that are free for students.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page