Napier student to be Sainsbury’s CEO for the day

Audrey Opdycke-Barnes.
Edinburgh Napier graduate who's landed a dream internship as 'CEO for the day' with Sainsbury's.
Audrey Opdycke-Barnes. Edinburgh Napier graduate who's landed a dream internship as 'CEO for the day' with Sainsbury's.
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MANY interns are left to make the office teas and coffees.

But one Edinburgh student has landed her dream job as the CEO of a leading supermarket chain – if only for a day.

At just 28, Napier University student Audrey Opdycke-Barnes, 28, will rub shoulders with Sainsbury’s head Mike Coupe after being selected by a leading recruitment consultancy firm for its CEO for a Day scheme.

The Odgers Berndston initiative pairs aspiring students with business leaders in a bid to inspire the next generation of talent.

Audrey, who went to Balerno Community High, was the only finalist outside England to be selected in the group of 24 after a nationwide search.

Now she’s set to jet down to Sainsbury’s London HQ for a day of leadership training and shadowing tasks.

“The careers team at my university sent out e-mails to pretty much everyone and there were aptitude tests and essay questions to do,” she said. “But I love a challenge so it spurred me on and I applied.

“I was the only person who’d travelled as far as Edinburgh for my interview and I’d been up since 3am so I was a bit fried, but it went well and I was so glad afterwards I’d done it.

“I didn’t know why I applied originally. I don’t view myself as corporate – I’m start-up and non-profit focused – but the best way to understand that world is to take part and learn from it.

“I was really surprised because there was no judgement and they were really welcoming.”

Audrey moved to Edinburgh with her mother, a medical practitioner, from California when she was only four.

She graduated this year with a degree in International Business and is now studying a Masters in Intercultural Business Communication at the same university.

She said: “I’m really grateful to the role models I’ve got – especially my mum. It was just me and her when we moved here. She was offered a job in Edinburgh and took it.

“Within two weeks we’d moved and within seven years her practice had been such a success she decided to open her own clinic. It’s been a booming success ever since.

“She’s been a big inspiration because she does a lot of work for people in the community. She’s a female entrepreneur that actually helps people.”

Her placement with Sainsbury’s is tentatively set for November 20. Other CEOs involved in the scheme include heads of Domino’s Pizza, DFS Sofas, Pets at Home and the Williams Formula One team. The Permanent Secretary for the UK government’s cabinet office is also involved.

Mark Freebairn, who heads the initiative for Odgers Berndston in the UK, said: “For a young person, this is an extraordinary opportunity to see how exciting and challenging leadership can be, and also a unique insight into how businesses are changing and connecting more directly than ever with society, hopefully helping to build trust.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com