Olga Szewczyk, Sustainability Project Manager, Heineken

 Olga SzewczykOlga Szewczyk,

Sustainability Project Manager, Heineken

Psychology MA (Hons), 2014

LinkedIn profile

My Current Job

In my current role, I am responsible for establishing sustainability agenda within the procurement department of Heineken. My main job is project management, including collaboration with suppliers of packaging to reduce CO2 emissions.

My career history 

After graduating from Edinburgh University, I completed an MSc in Business Analysis and Consulting at the University of Strathclyde. During my master studies, I was accepted to Heineken’s International Graduate Programme, a 1,5 year long traineeship consisting of 3 rotations around the world. I was working in the Netherlands, Myanmar and Mexico. Following the graduate programme, I came back to the Netherlands and started a job within sustainability. Currently, I am preparing for my next role as Procurement Operations manager in Brazil.

Using my degree skills and knowledge in my work

A degree in psychology has been helpful in less direct ways in my work. A lot of theories regarding group think, motivation, judgement and behaviour have been useful for explaining situations encountered in the work life, allowing deeper understanding, but also empathy for colleagues. Additionally, if leadership positions where people development are your aim, having the knowledge of personality styles and cognition can be of great help. In the more trivial ways, having the knowledge of perception and memory is a big advantage during presentations, idea pitching and even negotiations.

My useful experience

I believe it has been a mixture of experiences that helped me develop my career, I think it’s important to identify overlaps in the different pieces of what you have been doing through schooling, work and free time activities. Some of my biggest learnings came from participating in entrepreneurial programmes, involvement in student-run journal, as well as the always-dreaded group work. Apart from this, a summer internship between my 3rd and 4th year was a valuable experience.

How I arrived at career-decisions

I think career fairs are a great concept. Unfortunately, I have not always found them to be helpful in tangible ways (lack of specific offers presented by the employers, with follow up sessions). Still, they give a good chance to familiarise yourself with potential employers, and to get to know what options are out there. A lot of my career planning was done through online research, chats with friends and family. I would strongly recommend keeping an eye out on events organised by employers on campus – case study days, bootcamps, workshops etc. These have been the most valuable in my view, not only for job search but own learning and development. Something I wish I did more of was to contact people in jobs I was considering, through social media to get a concrete insight into their work. Most of the time people are happy to help, and it’s a good way to get a better understanding of a specific job.

Advice for students interested in my area of work

Add some business-related experience through internships, placements or education for an easier entry. Analyse overlaps and learnings that can be transferred from your experiences to a specific job, there are always many! Contact people in jobs you want to apply for and ask what they think are the most important characteristics of an applicant to see if this is something for you, but also help prepare for an interview.

Advice on making career decisions

I would advise to follow your true interests, and not only rely on rational thinking. Additionally, don’t let the stress of exams, job search and thesis get the better of you – it will all fall into place in the end.

 

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