July 28, 2022, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

My first project endeavour at Ecophon UK

Nishal Thampan, a postgraduate at Nottingham University Business School, talks about his Researcher Academy placement with Saint-Gobain Ecophon UK.

~ Nishal

Walking back through an empty road of West Bridgford on a bright sunny day, I was filled with a feeling of satisfaction and peace, something that was unusual for me after an interview!  Ok that was a prologue, now I will shift my narrative to a few days back! (Yes I am a fan of non-linear narration thanks to Tarantino and Pulp Fiction!)

After getting a bit settled in the university, I glanced through the openings in the university careers portal and I found some that were quite interesting being offered by the Researcher Academy’s Postgraduate Placements Nottingham programme. A couple of weeks after applying, I got a call from Paul, a Placements Delivery Manager at the Researcher Academy. He informed me that I was shortlisted for an interview for the Price Management Tool Development project at the company Saint-Gobain Ecophon UK, a Swedish company known for its elegant line-up of acoustic panels and ceiling systems. I had already done thorough research about the company during the application stage itself, which helped me prepare for the interview. Finally, I found out the interview venue – David Lloyd gym at West Bridgford. Now you know how I ended up at West Bridgford!

My interviewer was the Managing Director of Ecophon UK; the person who would also be my line manager. More than an interview, it was like an informal conversation in which he seamlessly and comfortably made me walk through my CV; asking in detail about my work experience, course and projects. Once he started explaining my job role, I became excited because the problem statement, which he intended to solve, was the same as a challenge I had encountered at a previous company where I worked. After I briefed him about this, he said “Wow, so you have already been there!” and I replied, “Yes, now I am way excited to solve it for you!”. That’s how the interview ended and I was almost sure that I would get through which explains the satisfaction as I walked back from West Bridgford. In fact, I got to hear the good news from Paul just the day after!

“I got a hands-on experience in managing a project single-handedly and developing a product from the defining parameters phase through to delivery.”

Ecophon offices

~ Ecophon offices

My placement used remote working, but we had the kick-off meeting at the Ecophon office in Basingstoke, a calm countryside town in the south of England and also my first journey out of Nottingham! After defining the project objective at the meeting, I came back and now it was time to get things into action! I delved into advanced features of MS Excel to create a user friendly dashboard which connected all the information pertaining to the huge product catalogue of Ecophon. Coming up with features that were simple to use and maintain was the main challenge I came across during the project. However, despite some setbacks in between, I successfully delivered the project and again travelled to the Ecophon office to do handover and train an employer there in the use and maintenance aspects of the tool I had created.

One of the biggest takeaways from my placement was that I got a hands-on experience in managing a project single-handedly and developing a product from the defining parameters phase through to delivery. This skill is something that I feel can help me in my professional career irrespective of the role that I take on. The flexibility and professional support that my manager gave me was also pivotal in getting everything done. As I took my last train from London station to Nottingham after delivering the tool, I was filled with the same feeling I mentioned in the start, but with an additional feeling of success!


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