Name: James Mercer
Position: Line Leader
Years with P&G: 2.5 years
If you had to describe what working at P&G is like in three words what would they be?
Why did you apply to P&G?
When I was studying, P&G offered me a place on a scholarship programme, which allowed me the opportunity to work at a different P&G site in the UK each summer. When I was completing the internships, I found that the culture of the company and the thinking styles I encountered suited me well. I found the work challenging from day one, was never in danger of being bored and the prospect of pursuing a career with a company like that seemed like a great prospect.
What do you do in your role on a day to day basis?
I run a Pampers production line, so I am responsible for everything that happens on that line: the safety, quality of the product, the people working on it, as well as making sure that we make as many nappies as we possibly can on any given day. This can involve dismantling equipment to understand why it isn’t working, or to make sure that it continues to work through to working with the line teams to help them develop their capability or work towards their next role.
What has your training and development been like during your time with P&G?
Whilst I have attended several valuable training courses during my time at P&G – to help me understand the technical aspects of the line, and to develop as a new manager – most of my development has come from applying myself to the challenges in front of me. During my first year, as a process engineer, I worked closely with one line, and as I developed I went from simply doing as I was told (go and check this gauge) to developing strategies for managing equipment based on information I had gathered from other sites in Europe, equipment experts and my own first hand experience.
How is the work environment/culture at P&G?
P&G is full of smart, dedicated people, all trying to do the right thing and all (usually!) pulling in the same direction. The culture that I have seen at Manchester, and at all the sites I’ve worked at, has been very similar to this – it is very usual for people to socialise outside of work and when teams are working together on a project with clearly aligned goals, the commitment and teamwork is second to none. There is a culture of doing whatever is needed to achieve results, but usually the pressure for this is put on people by themselves, and the leaders’ job is more often to make sure that everyone is properly supported and keeping their work/life balance right.
How have you been challenged at P&G?
The biggest challenge I have faced at P&G was when I first became a line manager and started having direct reports. I went from being responsible for my own work to being responsible for the performance and well-being of 21 people, mostly 20-25 years older than me! This was a huge learning experience, particularly in the first few months, whilst I was also learning the technical detail of the production line and developing credibility within the organisation for my technical mastery.
However, as ever, this is also the most rewarding part of the job – developing relationships that have the whole department striving for the same goal and doing the best for each other is a very positive feeling. It was very powerful to go from being able to do my best personally, to striving to motivate 21 people to all do their best, multiplying my influence a great deal.
What advice would you give to somebody considering applying to P&G?
Look at the company’s values and try to talk to someone who has worked at the site you’re looking to join. Make sure that what you’re reading and hearing fit with what you want from a job. P&G is a great place to work if your values and mentality fit with P&G’s. P&G is one of the rare companies that still does look at employing people for a lifetime career, so working for the company is a big commitment on both sides, and you need to make sure that it’s a partnership that will thrive.