In the last of our #GradLife series, Maddy McKenzie shares some highlights from the Coca-Cola European Partners graduate scheme, and her time at Coca-Cola Great Britain. Read on to find out how she met Justin Bieber, and what tips she has for those applying for grad schemes this year. 

Why did you apply for the graduate scheme?
I’ve always wanted to work in in the food and drink industry, and one of my first jobs was at Waitrose. Coca-Cola is such a fun brand, and it’s much nicer to work for a company where you enjoy and consume the product too.

What does a typical day involve?
I’m an ‘Away From Home’ customer manager, and sit within the commercial team. That means I look after the relationships with customers such as The O2, NEC, Virgin Atlantic and some cinema chains where our drinks are sold. Last year I worked on an activation with Lionsgate and Vue Cinemas to promote the launch of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2; and I helped leverage Coca-Cola’s global sponsorship of Riot Games’ League of Legends when the 2015 World Championship came to the SSE Arena in London.

Game On! League of Legends 2015 World Championship at Wembley's SSE Arena in London.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?
I didn’t realise how important the relationship is between the Coca-Cola system and its suppliers and customers, and how much they benefit and invest in one another. For instance, with Rugby World Cup 2015, I learnt how that was important for the business from a brand awareness perspective, and how difficult that can be to measure sometimes.

What’s the best thing about working here?
I love the offices and how they’re so eco-friendly, and designed in a way to inspire you to think creatively. The food in the café is pretty good too! In my field sales role at Coca-Cola European Partners I was usually on the road a lot of the time, so it’s nice to come in each day and chat with the team.

Tell us one of your favourite moments!
I’m lucky that I get to work directly with customers, as it means I get to take them out and entertain them with some “only Coke can do” magic. I took a cinema partner from New Zealand to the Rugby World Cup 2015 Final, and they won! They said it was one of those days they’ll never forget. It was only a month into my role so that was pretty epic. I also had the chance to meet Justin Bieber at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball with Coca-Cola GB!

Rugby World Cup 2015

Do you have any advice for students looking for grad schemes?
Research the company. When you are applying for different schemes make sure the company matches you. If you’re not the right fit for a company don’t get demotivated about it, because they know what they’re looking for and you probably wouldn’t enjoy it if you did get through. The Coca-Cola European Partners graduate scheme has a three-year rotational aspect, to help you get a breadth of experience, but you need to make sure you really want it otherwise it can be a difficult time.

What projects are you looking forward to next?
The last three months have been about getting to know the customers, and getting to know the team, so now I’m looking forward to getting stuck into projects and being able to manage them myself. I know what my capabilities are, and how to take ownership of my responsibilities, so I’m excited to see how it all pans out.

Read the previous issue in the #GradLife series with Pippa Collins.

Coca-Cola European Partners will be accepting applications for the 2017 graduate scheme in October.

Find out more about careers at Coca-Cola Great Britain.