Jude Abreo (guy at the centre) interned at FlipKart Internet Pvt Ltd and shares his wonderful learning experience during this summer. Jude is an MBA student at Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management. Read on to explore about his days in FlipKart.
It’s 9:30 AM, 7 April and I have just walked into Flipkart’s office at Esteem Asrani, Bangalore.
I am surrounded by 61 interns and GOD it’s intimidating. The first thing that crosses my mind was- “Are all these guys from IIMs?” (Also, curse my luck, the sex ratio was skewed the wrong way as always).
Although I’m right on time, there is no sign of anyone from the HR Team to receive us leaving me with no other option but to make small talk (something I’m horrible at) with my fellow interns while some latecomers are still trickling in.
Our HR contact gets in around 10 (flexible work timings or FTW!) and briefs us on our internships. We are then assigned to groups and allocated locations we have to report on the next day. The two interns from TAPMI and I are assigned to the Ozone Manay Tech Park (OMTP) office. I am disappointed when I realize that the core SCM projects were assigned to either interns from NITIE or the IIMs.
We turn up at the OMTP office the next morning at 10 AM, and meet the HR POC who promises to introduce us to our project manager later in the day. Thereafter, he gave us an idea about what Flipkart does at OMTP. I was really surprised by his depth of knowledge of non HR processes but was a bit apprehensive when I heard that OMTP was Flipkart’s customer service location and which is basically a call center in my eyes. During my pre-engineering days, a few of my friends did stints at various call centers and from the stories that I heard, I had the impression that call centers were easy money and don’t require any technical skills or management, but BOY I WAS WRONG!
Next, we spent some time learning the office layout and I was awed by the work culture. I have worked 3 years in manufacturing setups and there is a stark contrast in this office space to what I have come to be used to. Most of the windows looking out of the office are covered with eye catching posters, probably made by the teams working there. Most of the walls are painted with dry erase paint and are used as huge whiteboards. There is a game room with a foosball table and a PS3 and two cafeterias on our floor. A sea of employees are manning the phone lines and seem to be perpetually talking into their headsets and manipulating the CRM software to get any information a customer requests.
We find someplace to dump our laptops and head straight for the cafeteria to grab a cup of joy (I love the fact that I can grab a hot beverage whenever I feel like, from the machine because it’s not something I have ever seen on the factory shop floor). It’s getting near the end of the day when we finally meet our project manager who took 3 hours out of his insanely busy schedule to speak to us (I suspect he did it, because I had made my disappointment evident at being allocated to a call center and not a supply chain related project) but by the end of the conversation, I am convinced I have come to the right place. If someone with his workload took that monumental amount of interest in lowly interns like us, it definitely meant he and the company were invested in our success. He offered us 5 projects to choose from; none of which I was confident about but I am determined to give it my best shot.
We spent the next 3 days talking to anyone we can grab hold of at the office and I was floored with how open everyone is with us. Questions are actively encouraged and I never got the feeling that the person I was speaking to felt his time was being wasted. This in spite of the fact that we were approaching people without any idea of how or even what project we would be doing. I am convinced that everyone is so motivated because each and every one of the employees wants Flipkart to be the benchmark in customer support. The encouragement we got drove my fellow interns and me harder and we met over the weekend to discuss things we noticed (Bangalore is amazing because the number of places to eat or drink at is humungous). Finally, we were confident we have a basic idea of how the call center functions.
Came Monday, and I was confident that we will be able to show some results in one of the projects. Our project manager introduced us to an engineer who would serve as our project guide and who has some experience in the project we have chosen. He sets quantifiable objectives for all of us to complete and scheduled a review just before the weekend.
Two weeks flew by as we went about understanding the call handling process and come up with suggestions to improve efficiency. Any one we request makes himself available to bounce ideas off. Our project guide is always available via gchat and sticks to the review schedule. His feedback was always logical and pushed us towards attainable solutions.
A pilot run was setup so that we may test the intended process changes and we began ironing out the kinks. I was impressed with the speed at which things were moving simply because a similar process would have taken thrice the time to setup in a manufacturing firm. We are positively welcome here and I was sure our contribution would be valued.
And…SUCCESS!! The pilot run shows a marked improvement in the metrics we are tracking compared to the rest of the floor for the same period. We had a shot at being in the top 5 project shortlist and I was ecstatic (the deal was; 5 presentations were to be shortlisted, of which, one receives an on the spot PPO). Our guide had even taken out his time to give us pointers on improving our final presentation (my biggest learning-make it short).
We emailed our presentations and awaited the verdict. We also presented the work to our project manager who appreciated the work done. At the end of our first meeting on day one, he said, “I am investing three hours of my time in you guys and I expect returns”. Although we did not make it to the top 5, I can sincerely say my time at Flipkart was a brilliant learning experience and I am glad I got a chance of understanding a new industry and its processes. I enjoyed the work environment and I’m not saying that just because of the intern outing that involved laser tag (I killed it) and Taco Bell (free food is always a win!) or the ‘Billion Dollar Party’ to celebrate as Flipkart was reaching a one billion dollar revenue run rate one year ahead of schedule (that was one kickass party). Knowing that our work will contribute some part to Flipkart’s success in maintaining a stellar customer service reputation is hugely satisfying.
If Jude’s internship experience motivates you, you can view the latest internship in Bangalore.
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