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Retail student wins experience that money can’t buy

Maddie McClean and The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery chief executive Pejman Okhovat.

Massey business student Maddie McClean decided to transfer into the Bachelor of Retail and Business Management in her second year of study – and she hasn’t looked back.

She topped the Fundamentals of Retailing paper last year, receiving The Warehouse Group-sponsored Stephen Small Academic Achievement Award. As well as a monetary contribution towards study or research, the award came with a unique experience: the opportunity to shadow one of The Warehouse Group’s executive team for a day. 

Maddie, who is now in her final semester of study, says the day she spent with The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery chief executive Pejman Okhovat really broadened her retail horizons.

“The experience got me thinking, ‘Why not try out a career in the support side of retail?’ That wasn’t something I’d properly considered before due to my assumptions about the corporate environment,” she says.

“I was really surprised by the hospitaity I received – each person I dealt with was super helpful, friendly, down-to-earth and made me feel welcome. It wasn’t the poker-faced corporate environment I expected. I realised operating successfully in that environment and being a down-to-earth human don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

Maddie McClean learns the ropes from Jan Jones, general manager of people support at The Warehouse Group.

Making career-changing connections

She says she is now considering a much wider range of career options, incuding buying, planning, category management and merchandising.

“After my time at The Warehouse Group, I feel more confident networking, being outside of my comfort zone and asking people further up the ‘ladder’ for advice and opportunities. I’m just excited to see what happens next.”

Maddie says her day spent shadowing a chief executive has been the highlight of her degree so far, but the practical nature of the degree and its close connections to industry were a feature of the entire programme.

“Throughout the degree, what I’ve enjoyed the most are the guest lectures. We have had experts from most areas of retail speak to us and through that I have made some great connections.”


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