Creating sustainable postgraduate career opportunities
Since August 2021, Ward has been working with placement student, Deepak Kataria from the University of Nottingham as part of its Postgraduate Placement Nottingham (PPN) scheme.
The Postgraduate placements aim to provide organisations with short-term, focused and cost-effective access to specialist graduate expertise to support strategic growth, while offering students real life experience of the world of work.
Part way through a Masters in Business and Marketing, international student Deepak was interested in gaining practical work experience. The placement with Ward offered him the opportunity to match his skills in marketing with his passion for sustainability.
We caught up with Deepak at the end of his placement to see how he found working at Ward and what he would take away from his time on the team.
What interested you about working with Ward and why did you choose Ward for your placement?
“There were a few suitable vacancies available, but the one at Ward caught my eye particularly as I’ve always wanted to do something within the environmental or sustainability sector, but I have no formal qualifications in this field. As a marketing intern at Ward, this one offered a mixture of sustainability experience and practical marketing application.
I liked that it was going to be working in the sustainability team of waste management and recycling company. I had been in a dramatic society during my undergraduate degree where we did social plays on issues such as plastic recycling, so I was keen to understand more about the company and how it reduces waste to landfill.”
What kind of activities have you been doing in your placement?
“I’ve been supporting the sustainability team with the creation of presentations and reports, helping with the measurement of social value, plus working on documents and research to support The Ward Way, Ward’s sustainability strategy and roadmap to 2030.
Working with Ward’s marketing team, I’ve been involved with research for social media content and the creation of social media posts and assets. I’ve also been tasked with auditing the digital content on social channels and the website in relation to sustainability and making recommendations and suggestions on how this can be improved in the future, which I’ve really enjoyed.”
What have been your highlights during your time at Ward?
“The experience as whole has been a highlight really. From the start with my induction with sustainability team in the office, seeing the big chunky machines in action and going through the whole recycling process.
I was a bit worried initially that it would be really formal and corporate, but the team is professional, yet friendly and informal. I was introduced to everyone and felt welcome and acknowledged. It was fascinating to see what happens on Ward sites and the machinery working in real time.
Working with Ashley Oates, head of sustainability was a highlight too. She was always supportive, even when busy and always made herself available, giving the placement a good part of her time. She was more like a mentor and I felt really good about that.”
What have you learned through your time at Ward?
“So many things that I was not sure of or hadn’t come across before, such as the COP 26 movement and insights into the sustainability sector. I’ve had the opportunity to research so much and develop an understanding about what is happening in the sector around the world.
I had thought it might not be possible to get into the sector, as did not have environment qualifications, but it has given me confidence to see that it could be possible to move into a sustainability related role after graduation.”
How was working with your team during the pandemic?
“To be honest, the placement was built on the basis that we would work remotely so could fit it around our studies, so the pandemic didn’t adversely affect the experience. Visiting the site for induction was useful for meeting the team, getting support and experiencing the world of Ward. There was strict hygiene measures in place and everyone had their vaccinations, so that made things easier.”
What next for your education/career?
“My first priority is to focus on my dissertation where I’m looking at how the claims businesses make about the environment and sustainability match their actions, or if there is evidence of greenwashing. My experience at Ward will definitely help inform that and hopefully create a good piece of work.
After that, I’m going to be looking for a marketing role in the sustainability sector ideally. This experience has given me more confidence and it feels that I might be able to make something out of it.
My priority would be to work in the UK, as I could progress further in the sector than back in India. The sustainability agenda is not as progressive there as in UK and eventually I could take the knowledge back to India in a few years maybe.”
Would you recommend the placement scheme to other postgraduate students?
“I would definitely recommend the placement scheme to other students. It’s been an immensely useful experience. It broadens your experience, helps you understand the way things work outside the world of university. It’s been great to work with people having a good mind set and enjoy a good work life balance. It gives us really good exposure and insight into the world of working.”
Ashley Oates, Head of Sustainability at Ward shared her experiences of the placement too, adding:
“It’s been fantastic having Deepak as part of the team. He’s brought creativity, enthusiasm and a keen eye for detail. He has supported us with research, social media ideas, an objective audit of our website and digital presence, to generate fresh ideas and build on the sustainability activity of the team.
The experience all round has been great. The postgraduate placements team at the University support you through the process, match you with the right student and manage the administration and take care of payroll and contractual things. For businesses it’s a great way to get bright students to support you with your business objectives, while giving them worthwhile work experience in return.”
For more information on the Postgraduate Placement scheme from the University of Nottingham visit: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/workingwithbusiness/services/postgraduate-placements-nottingham.aspx