Jessica Lewis - graduate profile

"Growing up, I had always been interested in the prospect of working in the fashion industry but felt the traditional careers that usually spring to mind such as design and styling did not really seem the most suitable path for me to follow with the skills and talents that I had. Whilst studying for my degree in mathematics and statistics, I came across merchandising during some online research. Merchandising involves working closely with a buyer to make sure you are getting the right product, and enough of it, to the right number of stores at all times. Merchandisers also work to ensure the company hits their planned sales and budget targets. A great deal of planning is involved, as merchandisers will work to agree on how many styles should be in store at once and how long they should be selling for. It's also important to be reactive by marking down slow sellers, or by proposing to repeat best-selling styles. 

I am currently working as a Trainee Merchandiser at Primark head office, and prior to this I worked for 18 months with Peacocks. One of my main responsibilities is to forecast the sales of core lines, and making sure we have enough of them. This greatly reminds me of one module I studied in my final year- time series analysis and modelling – where we learnt about how to model trends. This is something I use on a day to day basis, thinking about how current sales trends could impact future trends and how we should react.

My job also involves analysis of historical data to create reports. These will aid the buyer and merchandiser to make important decisions about what to do going forward- for example using colour analysis. I could look at whether a colour was outperforming its stock levels at a certain time to help decide how much money should be spent on it for the next season. I believe the exposure I had to data sets as in my final year group project has greatly helped me here, as I feel that quite quickly I know what I'm looking for in the data, what will be useful and what is redundant.

I know I have been very lucky that my degree has had so many applications to my daily tasks in my career. However, I also think the beauty of studying mathematics or statistics is that you will definitely use some aspect of your degree, as there are hardly any career paths which will not involve the use of these subjects in some way."