Daily Winner for: – 20th August 2013
Name of the intern: – Ameya Shastri P
Institute: – IIFT Delhi
Organization interned with: – Titan Industries Ltd.
My eyes narrowed as they tried to focus hard on the building in front of me in the darkness. I was standing in front of the Headquarters of Titan Industries in Bengaluru on a pleasant Friday evening – on the 7th of June to be precise – trying to soak it all in. A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I realized the internship was well and truly over and I had to head home to Mumbai now. This was where I had spent the previous two months, learning the ropes of the trade and picking up the finer nuances of real-time marketing. It was a time when my learning from the books-and-pencils stage of my management education at IIFT Delhi was put to the test – all in high stakes environment at the country’s largest and world’s 5th largest watch Co.
Exactly 2 months ago, all of us summer interns from different b-schools huddled together with anticipation as we were addressed briefly by the head HR. We were quickly assigned to our respective Departments but before that, phone numbers were hurriedly exchanged, WhatsApp group invites were sent out and assurances were made that we would catch up with each other at lunchtime every day.
In my opinion, the success and quality of any internship experience depends on – apart from personal fortitude and sincerity – the mentor you’re designated to work with and the project you’re assigned. In hindsight, I believe I was extremely lucky in both these aspects. My project deliverable was to anchor a live marketing campaign for Nebula – Solid gold 18K luxury watches from Titan whose price range varied from Rs. 20,000 at one end of the spectrum to 3.75 lakhs at the other end. The marketing campaign was scheduled for 3 weeks from April 25 to May 19 since the Gold- buying festival of Akshaya Tritiya was being celebrated across India on the 13th of May. It was to be executed at a pan-India level. As part of the scheme, we were gifting our customers free Gold coins of varying gramage depending on their invoice amount. Later, as I found out, handling the distribution of these coins and pulling them back from hundreds of stores across the country after the scheme was over was a major logistical and organisational challenge.
The second absolutely crucial part of any internship , as mentioned before, is the mentor. My mentor , Aditya, was the brand Manager of Nebula. He was in his mid-30s and was very eloquent and remarkably tactful in dispensing his everyday responsibilities. He was also fun to work with and used four-letter words generously when discussing informal issues! But more importantly, he was a mentor in the true sense of the term- ready to guide me through a delicate situation while always being very polite and approachable. Over the next few weeks, Aditya and I organised and attended various face-to-face and teleconference meetings with the Zonal (Head sales)managers .These meetings were instrumental in helping us zero-down on the BTL(Below-the line) plans for activities in the respective zones, allocating budgets for the same and making sure they were properly implemented before and during the scheme.
The BTL activities covered the entire gamut of BTL promotional activities possible, unfortunately though, I’m sure Titan wouldn’t particularly like it if discussed them in detail on a public forum such as this one! But, maddening as it got sometimes, what stood out Aditya’s ability to maintain his composure, and yet with equal ease, crack the whip on anyone who missed deadlines and was jeopardising the scheme execution. This, in my opinion, is a very crucial and almost indispensable quality in any budding manager. Also, a risible example of his ability to drive issues in the desired direction came when I returned from a market visit to Chennai with the feedback from World of Titan store Managers that a Tamil Moviestar should probably be used in place of Farhan Akhtar for the ATL(Above-the-line)promotions of Xylys in Tamil Nadu. He replied – “ Arre ya…I’m pretty sure a lot of people in Chennai would prefer Rajnikant to George Clooney…But then Omega wouldn’t go and actually change their Brand Ambassador to Rajnikant, wouldn’t they?!”
As weeks passed by, I started becomingly increasingly comfortable with the work expected of me. And soon enough, I was enjoying the work and felt a tangible difference in the work and work-culture in Titan compared to the monotonous work in the IT industry where I worked prior to my MBA. Timings were flexible, the hierarchy was flat, the dress code was casual, the senior colleagues were very amiable and the work-hours were reasonable – in that they didn’t leave you exasperated and frustrated at the end of the day. And it would be gross injustice to not mention the absolutely delectable South Indian lunches that the Titan cafeteria would dish out every day. After all, an impeccable 4-course meal for a highly subsidized 10 Rs. is the stuff wish lists are made of and ensured I gained a few pounds by the end of the internship!
Meanwhile, the Paying Guest accommodation I was staying at in Bengaluru had an unbelievably parsimonious landlord and was another colourful character who added spice to the internship story. Every night, while I and my room-mate were sleeping, he would slip into the room in the middle of night and decrease the speed of the fan a few notches! Later I learnt that the rationale behind this bizarre behaviour was that he believed doing so would help reduce his monthly electricity bill!
On a more serious note, one of the more vital lessons I learnt was that sometimes no matter how well you prepare yourself , certain exogenous events take place which are outside of your sphere of control and which lay to waste all your foresight and planning acumen. A case in point – the protest against the LBT Tax by retailers in Mumbai (by far our biggest market) for a full week in the run-up to Akshaya Tritiya, due to which all shops in the financial capital were shut. Understandably, our sales figures were hit hard. It was a very incapacitating feeling – similar to the feeling a team gets in a Test match when they have to score 4 runs off the last 2 overs of the final day to win the match- only for play to be called off due to bad light.
All in all, the internship was a thoroughly enriching experience where I got quality hands-on experience which tested and helped me further hone my marketing, planning and people-management skills. The learning, the friendly rivalry among the interns, the fun I had at work, the deadline pressures…all contributed to make these 2 months one of the most memorable phases of my life!
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