Careers one-on-one : Jim Easton, CEO, interviews Katie Pringle, Intern

August 2018

I graduated from Cambridge University in 2017 with a degree in Politics and International Relations. From there I went straight to China to teach for two months. The kids really kept me on my toes, which was great. In some ways, my colleagues at Plural Strategy remind me of them – they engage and challenge me, too!

Why did you decide to become an intern?
When I left university I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into publishing or consulting. They’re very different, so I thought an internship would help me decide which to choose.

I did an internship at a small publishing company first, but I soon realised it wasn’t for me. I found the work really dull. It helped me to realise that I wanted to be as engaged and challenged by my work as I was by my degree. So I looked for an internship in consulting instead. I thought the problem-solving nature of it would stretch me.

Why choose Plural Strategy?
The smaller, more supportive environment really appealed to me. People seemed to genuinely like and care about each other, and in a way that meant they could challenge each other. Variety was important, too – I didn’t want my work to feel repetitive. Plural focuses on specific industries, but within that there’s lots of scope to be involved in very different projects.

What kind of work do you do?
It’s similar to what an analyst does, so:

quantitative research, such as analysing and presenting data from the management of an event. This could include KPIs (key performance indicators) such as the revenue per supplier and the number of suppliers and buyers qualitative research, such as choosing quotes from on-site interviews with people who attended an event, or from transcripts of calls with experts. We use these to highlight a point – for example, that the event had high-quality exhibitors research into the underlying market. This could be looking at the trends in –and outlook for – the US travel agent e-learning market or the European gym and fitness equipment market.

As an intern at a very busy time, I’ve moved around a lot to support different projects. So I haven’t seen one through from start to finish. This means I’ve been exposed to lots of different types of projects – and I’ve learnt huge amounts.

What do you like about life at Plural?
It’s fast-paced and you learn a lot on the job. You can start a new project you know nothing about, then look back a week later and see how much you’ve achieved and learnt from primary research, reports and calls. It’s really satisfying seeing a slide deck you’ve helped to produce come together.

The supportive culture. This has made such a difference to my experience –particularly when working late, which we often have to do on a commercial due diligence project. (We get the time off in lieu when it’s over.) It’s also great when it comes to asking questions or raising doubts. For example, if I’m struggling to source enough data on a particular market, I can brainstorm with the associate in charge to come up with different ways of answering the same question.

Every member of a project team is valued. I’ve worked on very small projects, where there are just four of us, and really big ones that involve most of the office. But whatever the size of the team, I’ve always felt I could ask questions, my ideas were taken into account and my work was feeding into the bigger picture.
Any other perks?

Plural’s just implemented a formal training programme with two days of induction for new starters (interns, analysts and anyone else who’s just joined). There’s also training every Tuesday morning, where everyone from analysts to partners runs sessions in a relaxed setting. This gives insights into different aspects of the Plural process and sector focuses, as well as into the consulting world.

The company is growing, too, which is really exciting. We’ve moved offices since I’ve been here and are currently rebranding and getting a new logo and website. It’s all part of moving from the start-up phase to becoming a better-known, established player.

Last but not least, we now have a Plural social committee that organises regular events. The last one involved boules in a gloriously sunny Finsbury Square.

What tips would you give to someone thinking about starting at Plural?
I know it’s a cliché, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. People will throw around terms you might not know, like ARPS and KPI, but no one will think you’re stupid if you ask what they mean. Oh, and be ready to think of a ‘forgotten pop artist’ on Fridays!