Name: Nicholas Brew
Role: Online Business Controller, Buying Office, Stockholm
Background: Bachelor of Business Management (International Business), Bachelor of Arts (German, Spanish), University of Queensland, Australia
Who are you?
Hej! I’m Nicholas, an Aussie a long way from the homeland! I am working as an Online Business Controller at H&M’s Global Buying Office here in Stockholm. I made the move to Sweden in September 2017; it’s been an intense but exciting 9 months so far, getting stuck into the world of business controlling at H&M and immersing myself in my new home in Sweden!
Why did you decide to move to Sweden and start working as a Business Controller?
After finishing university in Australia, I was searching for an exciting, new opportunity to challenge myself; both personally and professionally. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, go abroad and work in a role where I had real responsibility and a steep learning curve from day 1. Initially I found the role itself very interesting with the responsibilities and the opportunities to grow. H&M places particular importance on entrepreneurship, which intrigued me as I had been working for e-commerce startups for 2 years prior to applying. Secondly, I think H&M as a company is a great place to kickstart a career after studying as the scope of the business is so broad there are many different potential pathways and opportunities within.
What do you do as a Business Controller?
As an Online Business Controller I work essentially as the analyst in the team to drive sales and profitability, optimize buying levels and work together to set an overall strategy to drive the most growth for the online channel. As the name suggest, fast fashion, really is fast, and with such competition today the pressure is on to give the customer the best product, at the best price at the right time. My work revolves around this; how can we give the customer the best offer possible, drive the most growth and ensure we are investing in the right places? As a Business Controller, the analysis that I do helps me develop my own ideas to drive the business further, which I discuss with my colleagues as to how we can make this happen or optimize somewhere. I work in diverse teams consisting of an online manager, designer, buyers and buyer assistants where we all bring unique perspectives to the table. As a BC it is all about turning analysis into strategy, and strategy into action!
What was the biggest surprise with the role?
Definitely the responsibility and the impact that you can make as a Business Controller. As I am the only Online Business Controller on my division, the work that I do is really important for the team to achieve the best results. Having the responsibility and room to grow and test myself is something I am really grateful for this early on in my career. The impact that I can make really motivates me and creates this hunger to succeed. The strategies can change quite quickly, and you have to be able to adapt and take responsibility to make real business decisions that make a big difference. Especially at the buying office: it all starts here. Doing the analysis, discussing potential opportunities and ultimately driving a strategy all starts at the buying office, which makes it an exciting place to be!
What is your favorite part of the Business Controller role?
The scope and diversity of the role. Particularly as an Online Business Controller I work with many different teams, sections and products. No two days are the same! On my division I have 5 sections, each with multiple departments in each. So one day could mean working on all sorts of things from setting the overall buying strategy, to quantification with the teams to digging into sales analysis to find new business opportunities in particular markets or departments, the list goes on and on. In terms of product diversity on my division: it ranges from maternity denim to leather boots, cashmere scarves to plus-sized parkas, just to name a few. Working with such different sections and products makes it really interesting as they all have very different strategic focuses. As a Business Controller we also get to learn and work with many different parts of the business outside the buying office, like sales, production & logistics. I really value and enjoy the role diversity as I am never stuck doing the same thing over and over. There is always the next big focus or the next big challenge; I really like that.