Case study

Stephanie Gough-Cooper — TJX finance placement

TJX Europe

Stephanie is studying for a BSc Accounting and Finance at the University of Leeds. She’s currently on a year-long sandwich placement at TJX Europe

Why did you choose a placement year?

Completing a year in industry during my accounting and finance degree was an idea I was very keen on. I understood that in finance, there’s only so much you can learn without having experienced it, and I was interested to see how I could apply my learning to a job in the real world. After applying for many different finance placements I accepted an offer to TJX Europe, as the scheme that they offered seemed the best fit for me.

What does your role involve?

I’m based in the Business Planning & Analysis team, a role which I was very excited about as this sort of management accounting interested me most in my studies. In this role, I pull together budget submissions to send to corporate for the upcoming financial year, compared against the current financial year and with insight into a 3-year plan. This includes running P&Ls, consolidating submission files, and creating an overview pack that ‘tells the story’ of the submission. The overview pack I find the most interesting as it shows more detailed views of multiple different parts of finance - it brings together everything that makes up the budget and helps us get a greater understanding of every team’s work.

In this role, I benefit from being able to see a wider view, rather than a specialised section of finance, helping push the development a student would wish to gain from a placement year. I certainly have a better idea of how finance works commercially, which is something you can only really gain from working and being involved rather than studying.

What is your biggest achievement?

I consider one of my biggest achievements in this role to be how comfortably I’ve settled in, especially within my team. One of my biggest weaknesses at university was my lack of experience in networking, but since working at TJX Europe I’ve been really encouraged to socialise with those I’m working alongside. I’ve met a lot of people in different teams, different levels of seniority, even different departments, and it really makes me understand the business completely. The ability to develop my network has come so easily due to building relationships being one of the core values of the business. I believe this also reflects in the efficiency of the business; we are much more comfortable sharing and teaching others and being able to benefit from the knowledge and skills of those around us.

What are your next steps?

It’s important that I make the most out of this year. I’ve started putting more effort into broadening my range of skills to ensure that I am learning as much as I can about the business and finance rather than just my specific role. Luckily, my manager is very supportive of this, and has given me a lot of guidance on how I can develop my abilities while doing my job to a high level. This can be through networking, shadowing other departments, finding a specific skill that I’m interested in and really taking the time to master it. These things will benefit me as an individual, but also will reflect well in my role.

As this year has confirmed what sort of career I’d like to go into, I am dedicated to working hard and impressing enough so that I can be offered a role in the graduate scheme, after my final year at university. In finance, the graduate scheme includes attaining a CIMA qualification to become a chartered accountant, with a focus on management accounting. This is ultimately my ambition, and I believe that the support group I have around me, both inside work and out, will allow me achieve this.

Find out more

• Learn more about TJX Europe.

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