‘We’ve completed the Operations Development Scheme, you should too’

Last year saw the launch of our Operations Development scheme, designed to give individuals an introduction into all aspects of the Operations at tails.com.

Successful candidates are offered four, three month rotations across a 12 month period, giving them the opportunity to gain experience across a range of disciplines, including distribution, food, innovation & engineering, procurement and many more. Once the 12 months are up, you become eligible to take on a role at tails.com permanently, should the right opportunity be available.

And that’s just what happened to two of our candidates from last year’s cohort, Jen Stocker and Dominic Evans, who are both now fully-fledged members of the pack. We sat down with them both to find out the best bits about the scheme.

What made you want to apply for the Ops Devs scheme in the first place?

Dom: I never knew what exact role or department I would want to work in before applying for the scheme - I knew I wanted to be in operations and experience a fast-paced environment.

With the Ops Devs scheme having multiple rotations around the business, experiencing multiple teams sounded amazing and would widen my skill set doing different rotations. The idea of moving around the business fascinated me as this would help me in making a decision in what career I wanted to pursue. The scheme has so many options in which rotation you can do and this felt the best option for me.

Jen: I came out of university (with a music degree) not knowing what it was I wanted to do. I worked for two years in retail and found I enjoyed the running of the business and the understanding and refining of the processes that make the cogs turn. The Ops Dev scheme gave me the option to try four different teams to find out which aspect of operation I really enjoyed, as well as collecting a tonne of knowledge which will undoubtedly benefit me in the long term.

What areas of the business did you have a chance to work in?

Dom: In my first year at tails.com, I worked in Quality, Republic of Cats, Logistics and Data. I had an amazing time in all of my rotations and learnt so much both about the skills within the role and how I can further my personal development.

Jen: I spent time in the Manufacturing Engineering department, before working in Quality, Facilities and Planning. It has provided me with a wealth of experience and really helped me grow my confidence within operations.

What did you learn?

Dom: Wow, just so much! In quality, I learnt about contract negotiation, dealing with suppliers and also become qualified in HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points).

Republic of Cats was then a tremendous opportunity - a new product, market and pet all in one. In this small team, it was very hands-on from running shifts, creating new packstations and truly understanding how production works. Working in a small team and a very new team gave me a lot of responsibility and the ability to help scale up the production and processes.

In logistics, I learnt all about stock valuation, stock management and material variance. This allowed me to develop my problem-solving skills whilst working on projects to ensure we fully used our stock and had good management of products within the factory.

Finally, in the data team, I was able to use the placement to bring together operations and data to create a process that allows the prioritisation of work to be effectively scoped and prioritised between the two teams.

Jen: In the manufacturing team, I learnt about process implementation and development. I learnt about various structures and using these in real life to get actions and decisions made. It was really satisfying to see the difference I was making.

In the quality team, I had a strong introduction to supplier relationships management, which really boosted my confidence and also prepared me for my time in the facilities team, where I managed projects with large stakeholders and also worked on my presentation skills.

My final placement in the planning team gave me a taste of business as usual work, further working with suppliers and building stronger relationships with production and quality, to make sure we had the right stock at the right place at the right time - which I assure you is not as easy as it sounds.

Where are you working now and what made you decide that was the area for you?

Dom: I am just about to go into a permanent, full-time role in the Republic of Cats as an Operations Improvement Specialist, I decided this was the area for me as it allows me to continue with the work that I started while on rotation and allows me to actively impact how our operations work within the business. I knew this was the area for me as no day is the same and I am able to see the improvements that happen over time as we continue growing at a fast pace.

Jen: I'm moving into the Manufacturing engineering team. I chose to work here because, ultimately, process improvement was what I enjoyed the most. The team works on a diverse set of projects and is integral to making sure the new innovations and ideas work. I have a large amount of freedom to 'make things work' which I really enjoy. You can also unlock a lot of potential for tails.com, leading to massive increases in revenue.

Would you recommend the scheme?

Dom: 100%! I would encourage anyone with an interest in operations to apply to the scheme as it has allowed me to understand where I want to go within my career. Everyone has been extremely supportive and having a buddy & scheme manager ensures I’m getting as much from the scheme as possible.

I believe the scheme is a perfect opportunity to get experience in the world of operations and understand how different departments flourish together. With many options available for different rotations, there is so much to gain!

Jen: There's no better way to find out what you want to do, other than to do it. It's a fantastic way to trial different areas and build the foundations for a strong career. You come out in a great position, with more knowledge than most others, and you can get the most out of each team you work in (and they're always grateful to have you!) It's amazing what fresh eyes can see and the difference they can make.

For more information and to apply to the Development Ops Scheme, visit https://boards.greenhouse.io/tails/jobs/5338673002.