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Audrey to become CEO of Sainsbury’s – for a day

Posted: 13th October 2017

An Edinburgh Napier student is to become head of one of the UK’s largest chain of supermarkets – for a day.

Audrey Opdycke-Barnes has been selected for leading recruitment consultancy Odgers Berndston’s CEO for a Day scheme and will take the top job with Sainsbury’s next month.

The 28-year-old, who is currently studying a Masters in Intercultural Business Communication at Edinburgh Napier, will spend a day shadowing current Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe at the leading retailer’s HQ in London in November.

The programme – which Audrey is one of only two students from Scottish universities to make the final of – aims to forge closer links between CEOs and emerging talent. It offers students an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of senior management at an early stage in their own careers.

Although a CEO role has yet to be on her radar, the opportunity to take part in the programme was one that Audrey simply could not turn down.

She said: “I received an email regarding the programme from the careers team at Edinburgh Napier. To be honest, I have never aspired to be a CEO but I was intrigued by the scheme and decided to enter.

“I popped in an initial application, worked my way through the stages and after a group interview in London, I’ve made the final 24 – I’m both surprised and delighted to officially have been selected onto the initiative!

“I wanted to challenge myself and was happy just going through the assessment process with a consultancy firm but now I’m looking forward to spending a day with the team at Sainsbury’s. It’ll be an invaluable insight into the workings of one of the UK’s biggest organisations and I’m really looking forward to it.”

For Audrey, who moved to Edinburgh from San Diego, California when she was just four-years-old, the CEO for a Day selection is another impressive addition to her CV.

She won a scholarship to attend space camp with NASA when she was just 15. She’s already studied Aerospace Engineering at University of Glasgow, she graduated with a degree in International Business from Edinburgh Napier earlier this year and has previously held roles with leading retailer H&M and within footwear brand Hunter’s international sales team.

She added: “Although my career is still very much in its infancy, I’ve always been keen to show that there is a pathway for young women to progress in their chosen field. There are not enough female CEOs in the world so it is important, through programmes like the CEO for a Day scheme, to show that it is possible to make it to the top.

“In the future I’d love to work in management within the arts and culture sector – a role within the inner workings of an organisation such as the BBC or Channel 4 is the dream.”

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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