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Commercial Awareness

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Presentation given by Marc Pinter-Krainer at University of Sussex, February 2010

Commercial Awareness

  1. 1. Commercial Awareness Demonstrate Your Understanding of the Business World Marc Pinter-Krainer BSc PhD Sussex Alumnus (MAPS 1990-1993) Organised by the Careers and Employability Centre University of Sussex 25 February 2010
  2. 2. Why Commercial Awareness? <ul><li>This skill will significantly boost your chances for a successful job interview </li></ul><ul><li>Impress recruiters </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiate yourself from other candidates </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  3. 3. What is Commercial Awareness? <ul><li>View situations from a commercial or business perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Thought or consideration for the business environment </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding business issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What makes a business successful? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does it fit into its market place? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are the customers / suppliers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does it make money? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><…> </li></ul></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  4. 4. Why is Commercial Awareness a sought-after quality? <ul><li>Understand key functions & structure of an organisation more readily </li></ul><ul><li>Add value to a business by recognising, utilising and creating opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Quickly become a valuable asset to a business by taking initiatives which are relevant to it and its success </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  5. 5. How does Commercial Awareness help in the job interview process? <ul><li>Seen as key skill which is desirable (but relatively scarce amongst graduates) </li></ul><ul><li>Positive differentiation from other candidates </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrates potential value you can add to the business more readily </li></ul><ul><li>Improves discussion opportunities in an interview </li></ul><ul><li>Displays your interest in, and understanding of, the business </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  6. 6. Ways to improve Commercial Awareness <ul><li>Read the press / news / business sections </li></ul><ul><li>Understand financial information and news about a business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Marks & Spencer issue profit warning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does that mean? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does the CEO statement imply? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Look at company websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the nature of the business? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How would you describe the business in your own words? </li></ul></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  7. 7. Ways to improve Commercial Awareness (contd.) <ul><li>Play the “Investor” game </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Imagine you were to consider investing money in a business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the main reason for this being a potentially good investment? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Profits? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growth? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li><…> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the risks and potential downside? </li></ul></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  8. 8. Exercise: The Investor Game <ul><li>You have the opportunity to invest in a company you know </li></ul><ul><li>Which one would you choose? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe its business in one brief sentence </li></ul><ul><li>What are the top three reasons for your choice? </li></ul><ul><li>Identify risks for your investment </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  9. 9. Take note: <ul><li>To play the investor game, you ask questions about the business </li></ul><ul><li>You gain Commercial Awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Play the investor game as part of your preparation for a job interview </li></ul><ul><li>You will consider a significant investment – your time! </li></ul><ul><li>Note down your findings </li></ul><ul><li>Take note of any questions about the business </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  10. 10. Ways to improve Commercial Awareness (contd.) <ul><li>SWOT Analysis of a business </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide Strengths Weaknesses Threats Opportunities
  11. 11. Exercise: SWOT Analysis <ul><li>For the business nominated for your investment earlier, carry out a SWOT analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Identify internal factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengths </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify external factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Threats </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In each case, what actions can the business take? </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  12. 12. Ways to improve Commercial Awareness (contd.) <ul><li>Understand business financials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Published as part of annual report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Available for download from PLC websites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Top line revenues (sales) </li></ul><ul><li>Fixed and variable costs </li></ul><ul><li>Profit and loss </li></ul><ul><li>Balance sheet </li></ul><ul><li>Dividends </li></ul><ul><li>Ask “Why?” </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  13. 13. Exercise: Business Financials <ul><li>Example: Annual Results for 2008, Marks & Spencer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Group sales of £9bn, increase of 5.1% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Profit of £1bn, increase of 4.3% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong balance sheet: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Total assets £7bn </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Total liabilities £5bn </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Net assets £2bn </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Return to shareholders of £1bn in dividends </li></ul></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  14. 14. Latest News Flash … Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  15. 15. Ways to improve Commercial Awareness (contd.) <ul><li>Understand an organisation’s Supply Chain: </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  16. 16. Commercial Awareness Summary <ul><li>Commercial Awareness is a valuable skill which will help fast-track your professional career </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial Awareness is about taking a view from the business perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the news, play the investor game, carry out SWOT analysis and consider the supply chain </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide
  17. 17. Questions? <ul><li>Thank you for your interest and attendance </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial Awareness will help create an understanding of a business, and boost your confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoy your head start! </li></ul>Commercial Awareness 25 February 2010 Marc Pinter-Krainer Slide

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