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Alex Slater at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

I am currently on a work placement at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, located in Brixworth, Northamptonshire. Mercedes AMG HPP is a purpose built Mercedes-Benz technology centre with a team of well over 500 people, who design, manufacture and supply world championship winning Formula 1 power units to Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, Sahara Force India, Williams Martini Racing and Manor F1. HPP have enjoyed success over the recent years providing power units for Lewis Hamilton who won the World Drivers championship in 2008, 2014 and 2015 and Jenson Button who won in 2009. Along with this HPP have powered Mercedes AMG PETRONAS to 2 World Constructors Championships in 2014 & 2015, as well as Brawn GP in 2009. 

I worked in a fast paced Controlling Department (Management Accounting), with my role more specifically looking at the businesses operational areas for opportunities, risks and aiding in the decision making process for stakeholders around the business. At university I study Business, Economics & Finance so this placement was a great fit, allowing me to apply theory I had learned in the first two years of university in order to build a greater understanding of real world applications. 

The reason I chose to do a placement year was first of all to push myself and use the process as a learning exercise as I have had minimal experience of assessment centers and interviews up until this point. Secondly having been through school, college and then 2 years at university which solely focuses on studying, I wanted to experience something different and to get an idea of what working life is really like. Looking back this was a great decision, I feel like I will be returning to my studies more motivated, more mature and with some great real world experience which will enable me to achieve the best possible degree I can. All of this will help make me more employable as a graduate, which is definitely another benefit. 

At Mercedes AMG HPP I was responsible for providing accurate and timely management information and financial reports to stakeholders around the business. This was a high-pressure environment due to the nature of the Formula 1 industry, and the majority of the requests I had needed to be turned around within hours. Some more specific aspects of my role are as follows;
• Reporting Operational Costs & Variance analysis to key business stakeholders.
• Preparation of month end accruals, prepayments & Journals.
• Preparation of the director’s information pack.
• Assisting in setting budgets & company wide forecasts.
• Carrying out in-depth analysis of the manufacturing department.
• Assisting in project costing’s & creating working models for multi-million pound projects. 

Over the 12 months I have spent at HPP I have developed numerous transferable skills that I will keep with me throughout the rest of my working career. I have managed to develop my competency with numerous computer programs such as the company ERP system (SAP) which I used on a daily basis, and is used by many other companies such as Adidas, Coca Cola, eBay, McLaren and many more giving me an edge over anyone who hasn’t used this system before. Along with this I have developed great Microsoft Excel skills, enabling me to analyse and summarise vast amounts of data in a short period of time. However the main areas I saw myself develop in was my confidence, understanding others requirements and using my initiative to get the job done. I soon realised the only way I could gather the information I needed to was to get up from my desk and go speak to people around the business, which not only enabled me to gain more confidence through getting used to talking to people but also through building a greater understanding of how HPP works as a company. 

The effort I have put in over the last 12 months has not gone unnoticed; it has allowed me to present my own work to heads of departments & directors at HPP, getting some extremely valuable feedback, as well as experience from the presentations. This was because I showed my ability to breakdown a problem and then structure and deliver a solution to Stakeholders in the business all whilst achieving tight deadlines set.

I would recommend a placement to anyone who is considering one as it has been a great experience and it will provide many more opportunities for me going forward.