As students explore opportunities in the graduate employment market, understanding a range of sectors can broaden opportunities and allow candidates to apply skills to areas that might not have been an obvious fit. Dell Young Leaders alum Ndivhuwo is an example of how leveraging advice and mentorship can boost the chances of career success after university. Ndivhuwo shares more about her work in retail –what to expect and the skills needed on a daily basis in the sector.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2016 with a degree in internal auditing. I’m from Birch Acres in Gauteng and speak TshiVenda, English, IsiZulu, Sesotho. I currently work as a trade analyst in the retail industry. Outside of work I enjoy reading, watching movies or series, baking, and cooking.
Can you tell us about how you ended up starting a career in retail?
I only knew about retail through my experience of shopping, as I’d never experienced working in the retail sector. I wasn’t aware of the job opportunities that the sector offered as a soon-to-be commerce graduate. The Dell Young Leaders programme connected me to an alum working in the sector, so I got to learn more about how my skills, experience, and interests fit into a career in retail.
When you started applying for jobs in the sector, what do you think made you stand out among other candidates?
While studying at university, I had gained experience across a number of different industries, from entertainment as a radio personality in high school, to government and finance as a financial administrator. On reflection, these varied skills prepared me with the agility and problem-solving skills needed in a fast-paced sector like retail. Speaking to an alum working in the sector also really helped to boost my confidence for interviews to show my potential and represent myself to my best.
Can you tell us about a day in the life as a trade analyst?
I run the trade meetings across different departments of the business, which involves a lot of analytical skills and coming up with recommendations. It requires one to know the products, know what customer we are trying to cater for, and what issues are we trying to address.
I am also involved in competitor analysis, looking at what our competitors are advertising compared to our company, and identifying the gaps. This involves going to different stores to see the flow and the merchandising of the products. When it’s time to plan for the year ahead, I help with the market analysis to see where we’ve lost the market share and how can we regain that market share. For example, if we lost the market share to a particular competitor, I then go to that particular competitor and see what they are doing differently.
What skills do you use in your work?
My job requires me to be confident, assertive, and energetic because it takes a lot of my time. I constantly read up about what competitors are doing to understand their pricing in the market over time. I analyze websites, social media pages, TV commercials, and more to understand what they are offering. If I’m analyzing a competitor’s strategy for TV commercials, I will need to understand which channels they targeting and at which time.
My job also requires good communication, listening, and observation skills. It’s really important to observe the language of the people you are talking to, especially if you are advising somebody who has more experience than you have. It’s important to watch the tone you use so that your colleagues understand that you’re there to help and that you’re all part of the same team.
What did you do in university that you think helped prepare you for the world of work?
One of the main things that I’m really grateful for from the Dell Young Leaders community is that they teach you how to be assertive. They teach you to go out and get whatever it is you set your mind to. Throughout my years in university, with the coaching, mentoring, and leadership symposiums – the programme helped me understand that if I put my mind to something, I can definitely achieve it.
What advice do you have for students looking ahead to a career in retail?
Retail is not what we know as consumers. The truth of the matter is that retail is very broad, and there are many people with deep industry knowledge. In this sector, I learn something new every single day. You might see people at the stores but there is so much happening behind the scenes to make sure that the store comes to life and the product is presented according to expectations. There are also so many different interactions – with suppliers and the team at the distribution centre. That takes a lot of work and it is more complicated than it appears! When you come into the retail space, have an open mind and be willing to learn – because even if you study something at university that is retail related, you are still going to do a lot of learning!
What helps me is that I always ask relevant questions when I don’t understand. What the industry requires is somebody that is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. So be that person. Your qualification can only take you so far but your personality and who you are can take you further than you’ve ever thought. I always think of those in retail as the people who are answering the base needs of others. If you want to get into retail, have passion for it, because if you don’t it becomes a tiring job. Be passionate and proud about what you do.
Given the current economic environment, new university graduates face a steep road ahead.
The Career Insights Series is designed to help graduate job seekers. Dell Young Leaders alumni share insights on their career path, highlight a day in the life at their employer, and provide guidance to students on how to stand out to employers and prepare for the world of work.