Charlotte de Brabandt
Studied: BSc Management with Marketing
Place of Work: VW Group
Position: Group Procurement
Why did you choose to study Management with Marketing?
I visited lots of international and UK universities offering my course before I arrived at Royal Holloway. I was convinced immediately, and knew that this was the university with the right course for me. After exploring the campus and visiting the School of Management my feelings were confirmed. I knew I could use my time here wisely, and moreover explore my interests in the economical and management world.
What was the best part of the course?
It was all tremendously exciting, but in particular, Strategy Management, from learning about Henry Ford’s maxim ‘any customer can have a car painted in any color that he wants as long as it is black’, right up to Porter’s five forces, and applying strategy to real scenarios. I still apply what I learnt about strategy analysis when evaluating ideas at work.
What was the most exciting experience you had at university?
I had so many great and long lasting experiences at Royal Holloway, with friends, fellow students and through the great societies that were offered. I also discovered by passion for entrepreneurship, taking part in a few innovative competitions, from ideas based to business plan presentations. In my first year, I was awarded 3rd prize and £2,000 in the Making a Difference competition run by the South East England Development Agency [SEEDA]. I was in direct competition with students from all 29 universities in the SEEDA region, and had a mentor, David Saunders, to guide me through the process. I pitched the concept and design for a telephone for elderly people, aimed at improving interaction via larger buttons and amplified sound. It was a fantastic experience.
What do you do at VW Group?
I officially began my career at the VW Group in 2009, after completing three years at Royal Holloway and a one year Masters programme. I do group purchasing for all the subsidiaries, a role that requires great responsibility, since I am managing all the volumes and capacities needed worldwide. Group procurement is the acquisition of goods relating to the automotive industry. I follow a process intended to promote fair and open competition for the business, whilst minimizing the exposure to fraud and collusion. Obtaining the best possible cost is imperative to meeting the needs of the purchaser in terms of quality and quantity, time and location. Procurement generally involves making buying decisions under conditions of scarcity. If good data is available, it is good practice to make use of economic analysis methods such as cost-benefit analysis or cost-utility analysis, or analysis of risk, to determine the value of the purchase.
My daily role involves following the process of the procurement life cycle, from information gathering to determine the client’s needs, supplier contact, background review of the products or services, negotiation, fulfillment to the consumption, maintenance and renewal of the products themselves.
What is the best thing that has happened to you this year?
After graduating, I continued to take part in idea competitions, this year undertaking the Marga Management Business Simulation. In the competition, participants manage all the departments and functions of a simulated company in the scope of a management training programme. In this context, they get to know the current management instruments and consolidate their basic business contexts. The participants use the knowledge they have gained in the team to make and implement specific decisions in the business case, learning to strategically plan over a long term. This in turn means that unique transfer of knowledge occurs in the direction of business thinking and management. Since 1971, executives have learned through Marga how operational decisions influence the long term success of a company, thus management knowledge becomes a real experience. Overall, I reached the finals of the competition and was placed third out of 3,000 competitors. It is the biggest management competition in Germany and got great coverage in the newspapers.