Summer Internship with Emel Group Nigeria – Satya Prakash from IIM Kashipur

Satya Prakash interned with Emel Group, Nigeria, diligently shares his experience of working in a Nigerian company. Satya is an MBA student at IIM Kashipur. Read on to explore his interesting internship story.

During this summer, I interned with Emel Group, Lagos, Nigeria. The company mainly operates in four verticals, namely, furniture, building materials, corporate gifting and sanitary ware. It is by far the largest conglomerate in Nigeria after the Dongotia group which is a pan Africa organization.

The title of my project was ‘Increasing operational efficiency in the Chair Manufacturing with stress of space utilization and cost cutting’. As per the execution, it was contingent on the idea which I propounded. So if it was plain and simple, the execution was done within a week and if the idea was on manpower optimization, detailed discussion was held to further fine tune it before execution.

Emel office chairs is a leading name in the Nigerian Market. The company manufactures more than 40 different types of chair mainly in economy and sub premium category. The current production level of the company is around 30,000 chairs per month which is two times the quantity the facility used to produce 6-8 months back.This sudden increase in the production has caused various problems mainly on space and time utilization. For a better space utilization, proper volume occupancy was recommended for the items which were light and could be stacked. Similarly, various Japanese techniques namely 5S and other workplace organization methods were also recommended.

On the cost reduction front, production rates for different sections were calculated using mean variance analysis and this rate was further used to calculate the optimum manpower requirement for production and fabrication facilities. It was found that both divisions have extra capacity and can be pruned to achieve better production efficiency or the production level can be systematically increased.

On the time saving, different processes were observed and noted. For few areas, minor stuffs like stacking can yield huge benefits and the same has been implemented. Other areas where better time efficiency can be achieved were change in layout, use of customized trolleys and similar items of low investment and high values were recommended.

Execution part was mainly done by the upper management. Whenever I presented my ideas, they used to grill me on various aspect of it and after being fully convinced, they would call the concerned supervisors and would tell them to execute my idea.

Among the major challenges faced, the first would be the local culture and customs. Being born and brought up in a traditional Indian family, it was very difficult for me to acclimatize myself with a culture which was very loud and provocative. Another issue that I constantly faced was to keep the people constantly motivated. It was very difficult to do so given the fact that they were ready to stoop to any level to earn an extra buck.

Learning were many. We often find people saying that whatever we learn in text books go for a toss once you land in an industry. Contrary to this belief, I found that words written in text books are Holy Grail and you can always tweak it a bit to suit your needs. I also found the importance of HR in any field. Ultimately, it all boils down to people, and knowing people and creating a credible rapport would be a key parameter in the success of any individual. Overall learning was also great. As I said, there were numerous things that I learnt and the time doesn’t permit me to write all those down here. But, the overall experience was awesome.

My corporate mentor, Mr. Himanshu Tripathi, gave me a free hand in doing whatever I liked to. He was always ready to take the blame of my failures if my idea didn’t yield desired results. His friendly approach and caring attitude was something that inspired me further to go beyond my limits. Also, at times, I thought of contacting my academic mentor, but the time difference made sure that it was either early morning or late night in India whenever I tried to dial their numbers. Mainly, I referred to Russel Taylor books for any help. But I did contact with them on mails mainly on the happenings in college.

Initially, it was acrimonious. But as time passed, it became friendly. I started understanding their point of view and they too realized that I meant no hard feelings. I took them out for lunch at times and would always chat with them on issues in India and Nigeria.

Well, do I want to join the company again? It depends on my family. They have their own reservation about the country. And further, I want to specialize in finance while the work there would in operations. Let’s see, how the economy and Modi govt. pans out in 6-7 months. If the situation moves from bad to worse in India, I would be left with no option but to join Emel, Nigeria.

To create a rapport with these people, I started taking their MBTI personality test to know more about them. In this, you answer a couple of questions through the internet and then the computer tells you about your personality. So, I would let them write the test but not let them see the answers. Then I checked the answers myself and would tell them about their personality after pretending to see their palm first.

So it was like I have their personality test at one hand and then I would try to be a palmist. Like it happens with MBTI test, it was always right about their personality, this word soon spread out and people started coming to me with palms open and asking questions on money, education, children and so on. And like a trained clairvoyant Indian palmist, I would take them to my office, will ask the MBTI questions, put it on web and then tell them the answers.

On one fine day, our MD invited us on dinner. There I met his wife. When I was introduced to her, she said, “Oh, you are Satya. I have heard so much about you”. This made me realise how impressed they are with my work that they are discussing it at their homes. And then she said, “So Satya, can you see my palm and tell me about myself?” I was like, “What?” And then, I had to reveal all my palmistry secrets to them. And they were literally rolling on the floor with laughter.

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