A Truly Clear Experience – Aritra Chaudhuri’s Internship Experience At Saint-Gobain

I experienced a breezy evening in Mumbai as I left the airport to make my way to the company Guest house. The sight of the sun setting in a mix of auburn and yellow, with the landscape alternating between the rather old Victorian style houses, a plethora of blue-roofed slums and the large modern corporate buildings was truly picturesque. Looking out the window of the cab it felt like it was the beginning of something new – and it was, an experience that got me highly acquainted with Glass like never before! It starts – Full Speed Ahead!

Next day in the morning, being seated in the conference room, I met my cohorts from IIM A and IIM B, where we soaked in the atmosphere at the Saint-Gobain’s Delegation Office. During the course of the day, we got to learn about the vastness of Saint-Gobain’s operations in India– it goes way beyond Glass! After the induction process was completed, I had to immediately fly out to Chennai, to join the head office for Glass. On the first day itself, expectations were set about how a fast paced career in sales and marketing was going to be like.

The Chennai office had us get to down business, with all day meetings with National Heads of Marketing, Sales and Distribution and Product Innovation to get acquainted with the various aspects of the product and marketing efforts. It helped us understand the Saint-Gobain brand and its ubiquity in the Indian Glass landscape. The best part about the interaction was how easily you could approach them and ask questions – a chance that none of us left! The next day, we got the chance to visit Saint-Gobain’s World Glass Center at Sriperumbudur to see how different variants of glass is produced! I doubt that this is an experience that many other MBA students can experience during their internship. We got to learn about how glass is handled, cut and polished at a larger dealer’s warehouse. This was all the technical knowledge about the product that we were equipped with, before setting foot into the market.

(All of us interns at Glass at World Glass Complex, Sriperumbudur)

The landing and travel around!

With five days of training under my belt, I landed in Hyderabad to begin my project to cover key markets across Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. The feeling was not unlike how I imagined Tom Cruise felt being dropped into the War Zone from a chopper to complete his mission in the movie, Edge of Tomorrow. And uncannily, the landing was a rough one – with a week flying away just to understand the complexities of the market. The great thing was, within the first week itself, worked with Distribution team, to get acquainted with a lot of glass retailers and dealers across Hyderabad. We worked together to organize a Retailer meet, which gained a significant amount of traction from a lot of retailers across the city. It was the first spark of success that was the culmination of a lot of groundwork during the week.

 

The two months that fly by – all over the map!

Over the period of two months, I covered seven key markets, twice, travelling from Hyderabad all the way up to Rajahmundry and all the way down to Tirupati, conducting various marketing activities – meeting builders, retailers and whole-sellers to improve awareness of the product and conduct interviews to understand the market that wee bit better. The company allows you complete liberty to plan out your route in order to conduct your project. Planning to cover multiple markets while maximizing impacts and evaluating the method of approach for different influencer segments, allowed me to learn a lot about time management and flexibility! Some weeks had me jumping across three cities at a time – working 16 hours a day! Look forth at your goal and your fatigue fades away – albeit slowly!

 

(Meeting with builders across AP and TS)

The experiences that make us grow!

The key learnings during this period, which are essential to be an effective manager:

-You have to ensure you never lose focus on your project goals – there may be many appealing areas calling for your attention– stay on point!

-The team working with you are focused on their own goals – Get them to buy-in to your goals!

-Go and explore – Meet the crowd, take the initiatives to make things happen – lead by example – if you can do it, so can the team!

-Stick to your convictions – if you are convinced you’re doing it right, convey it to the team and even your mentor!

-Sales and Marketing are highly intertwined – one can’t do without the other!

-Dig deeper during interviews – try to understand what really drives consumer purchases!

-Keep in touch with your mentor – Consistent contact yields better outcomes!

-Make time for both yourself and your work! A good manager needs to be able to do both!

The moment you feel it’s been worth it!

There are some moments during your travels and all experiences that will stand out. This moment transpired when I organized a shop-level meet (during my attempt to identify new locations to conduct retailer level programmes) to educate and increase awareness about Saint-Gobain’s latest offerings in the Sun Ban Range. The retailer, carpenters and fabricators who work with glass, were highly appreciative about the meet, committed to stock Sun Ban products more readily and educating their customers!

Make the most of all the travel!

I easily traveled more than 4000 kms during my journey by road and got the opportunity to see some amazing views and memorable sights. The project gave me the opportunity to see the beauty of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, soaking in the sights of the picturesque Charminar, to the natural rocky landscape of Tirupati and the beautiful beaches of Vizag. I also got to enjoy the culinary delights of the state –the Ulavacharu Pulao, delectable Andhra Thalis, Natukodi Chicken Curry, the famous biryani at Guntur and the iconic Hyderabadi Biryani, made it an internship well eaten! As I bid adieu to the temple city of Tirupati, I approached Chennai ready for my final presentation.

The moment of truth!

The final presentation was made to the President, Flat Glass (South Asia) in the presence of the National Head of Sales and Marketing and National Head of Sales and Distribution. The internship culminated into this very final moment, to present all my findings and research from the last two months to the top management. My findings were well-received with positive feedback from the top management. Even though the internship ended, I continued to receive calls intermittently from builders and dealers across the two states – it reminded me that efforts have a lasting impression!

Aritra Chaudhuri

Alumnus || Secretary, External Relations Committee 2016-17 at IIM Trichy

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