If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. Sameer is pursuing MBA and shares his wonderful experience of internship days.
The Campus placement : A FMCG Company coming to the college was a miracle in itself or so we thought. A FMCG Company giving stipend and we got excited even more. A FMCG which manufactures, sells and exports incense sticks(Agarbatti). Now we got a little finicky about taking a placement. And the final straw was going on field for a survey in Dharavi slums. A strict no no.
The Background : Let me pause here to explain my skepticism for taking up this assignment. I have been a SAP techno functional consultant for 3 years working with big corporates on 6 project implementations. But air-conditioned cabins and expensive catering isn’t what excites me about the job. Its the rush of not knowing the next step, getting to challenge the norms to get to the solution, going to the actual site of work and working to learn and study and then coming up with a solution because you haven’t just heard the problem but you have lived it, going all out to achieve the unthinkable (not risky but challenging enough) that excites me more. So the prospect of going to shops taking surveys collecting the data and submitting it to the analyst wasn’t appealing enough.
The Interview : We went to the Headquarters in Mulund with unsure minds. The office was mildly lit with an oldish charm. There was a lot of experience looming around in the premises which superimposed our inhibitions. I mean working in an environment with many old colleagues is one thing but to work with almost everyone not even close to your age group! That’s seriously depressing. With this first impression in mind and all the other candidates willing to tang the interviews either due to the product type or the work, I went for the interview. In the cabin was a young chap who introduced himself as the business development manager. We talked about my previous work, the industries I had worked with, what are my interests in working with the company etc. I was glad not to have been asked strengths and weakness questions. The later part of the interview was pretty interesting. He was interested to know if I would want to work on a different project he had in mind. The company was looking into upgradation of their current EDP system into a full fledged ERP system and implementing the CRM Module. This was what caught my interest and I accepted the job with a promise of complete freedom in experimenting and implementing new ideas along with learning about exports and digital media which was my primary area of interest.
The Internship : The D day started with a little introductions and we shot off the discussion of the project. The first couple of weeks went into secondary research of the ratios, CSFs and KPIs,the industry benchmarks, and dashboards critical to the industry. The first task we put on priority was to create a database of customers with their details. What technology do I use? What should be the timeline? What change management would be required? Would this exercise impact the sales? These were the questions we set and we knew that with resolution of these questions, each question would give rise to new questions. So we decided the problem statement would be “To determine the reach of the sales team in Mumbai city” and as supplementary answers we would get What markets haven’t we explored? along with getting the database of existing customers. The deadline was set to 45 days, the technology chosen would allow to get details about outlet name(sales jargon for a retail shop), Owner name, Contact, bifurcation into (Wholesaler, General store, Agarbatti shop, Paan-Bhidi shop or other retailers(like medical,hotel or dairy), birthday of the shop owner. Feasibility study was done to determine how the sales force could adapt to the technology. The technology chosen was a smartphone with an aap. The systems allocation was done in such a way that the sales officer working weekly was to transfer the phones to next weekly sales officer and then pass it on to sales officer working on 15 days and further pass it on to another 15 days. This way I reduced the number of systems required to 10 systems for 35-40 sales officers, assured that no system would be idle for the next 45 days, all the areas and sales officers were covered and project was closed in 45 days. Thus, based on the number of systems, the budget was fixed. I also planned a visit with each sales officer to achieve a dual purpose of learning how the sales is done? what is the buying behavior? What are the tips and tricks of sales officers to survive the competitive market and to monitor the smooth working of the system. I also got to understand the in depth working of exports and to actually design an ERP system for the same. I also got to work on SEO optimization and learn the working of adwords etc.along with improving and optimizing the website, social media marketing and promotions like competitions etc. Selling the products on ecommerce websites like Flipkart, Amazon and 20 other sites also gave me the insight into in depth working of online vendor management, ecommerce business models and their working, pricing and everything related to e-business. I was also involved in media promotions like ad campaigns, print media campaigns, event promotions etc.
The Learning and Experience: My experience with the company was one of its kind as I got to implement an end to end project, work on the field with sales force, learn the other aspects of marketing like digital media, e-commerce, media and advertising and not just training or theory but actually working on each of the modules, budgeting and tenders, and many other practical vendor side marketing and sales applications. My learning was deep and my experience was in truest of terms enlightening and awesome!
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