We got this wonderful opportunity to interview managers at Aditya Birla Group who were a part of the Aditya Birla Group Leadership Program (ABGLP). They shared their experience of working with the Aditya Birla Group and their journey so far.
Mr. Ajinkya Domale is currently working as a Manager, Marketing and Business Development. He has done his MBA from IIM Bangalore and B.Tech from College of Engineering Pune and has been working with the Grasim Industries at Aditya Birla Group
Biswadip from our team interviewed Mr. Ajinkya and here are some excerpts from the interview.
Biswadip: The first question I would like to ask is how does the work culture in ABG foster creative and innovative thinking?
Ajinkya Domale: ABG is a very vast organisation and the way each and every organization fosters creative and innovative thinking is pretty different. We have Pantaloons which is a fast moving companies where they will have their own way of getting things done. And if you see our manufacturing businesses, their setup and methodology is different but if you ask about the innovation aspect, what binds all these ABG companies together is the corporate functions. We have corporate functions like Consumer Insights & Brand Development (CIBD) and Central Innovation Cell. These are like the internal consultants who bring the best industry practices and try to implement them in all the ABG companies. One of the practises is Mission Happiness which is about reaching out to consumers, actively taking their feedback and then working on that feedback diligently. It is the central group function which has implemented it across all the group companies. This is one of the ways through which they try to foster creative and innovative thinking across all the group companies.
Biswadip: What I know about the programme is that there are various stints as a part of the program. So, can you walk us through the programme and what were the stints you went through and what was your experience like?
Ajinkya Domale: So, the first year comprises of 3 major stints and 1 minor stint. The 3 major stints are with different businesses and roles and the minor stint is a CSR stint which actually helps us to know about all the CSR activities that are happening across the group.
My 1st stint was with Grasim Industries, Pulp and Fibre business called Birla Cellulose. I was part of Marketing & Business Development team wherein we were trying to drive the usage of viscose staple fibre in home textile category.
My 2nd stint was with a corporate function called Consumer Insights & Brand Development (CIBD). In this project I was working as a product manager working on a software product which would help our B2B customers gain better visibility of their goods once dispatched from our factories, so that they can plan their operations accordingly. The whole project was about giving something extra to the customer so that we can drive better customer satisfaction.
My 3rd stint was with UltraTech cement. This stint was in operations. I was working in marine logistics; Ultra tech has several ships through which they transport cement across India as well as globe. So, I was helping the marine logistics team to optimize ship turnaround time and cost.
I have deliberately taken all my stints in various business verticals like Marketing & Business Development, Operations, Product Management & Strategy, which gave me a broad understanding about each of these business verticals.
The CSR stint was with Hindalco plant in Renukoot (UP), wherein lot of CSR activities were happening. The aim of this CSR stint to observe all these CSR activities closely and finding out ways in which we could contribute in a significant way.
Biswadip: So there are 3 stints which happen in the first year right?
Ajinkya Domale: Yes, 3 stints of 4 months each and CSR stint of 2 weeks. And there is also an option to select a stint outside India as ABG is present in more than 42 countries, so you also get a chance to spend 4 months in one of the companies outside India, where you can get exposure to cross culture way of working.
Biswadip: Where these stints assigned to you or you had chosen yourself?
Ajinkya Domale: It’s mutual. We give our preference and the team also helps us figure out suitable opportunities and based on that it works out.
Biswadip: What are the qualities would ABG expect in a candidate eying for the ABGLP programme?
Ajinkya Domale: I will just walk you through my own selection process. First round of screening happens with the psychometric test. You cannot fake a psychometric test so be honest and you will be through. Then second round of screening happens with the resume based shortlisting. The third round will be a group discussion and group activity round where they try to see how you behave as a leader in a group, like in case of group discussion you might be feeling that if a person speaks more number of times then he will get through but that’s not the case here. It’s about how much you are contributing and how do you respect others opinion. It is about leadership and collaboration
Biswadip: And what do you think ABGLP expects from its management trainees, what qualities should they possess that makes it easier for them to crack the interview?
Ajinkya Domale: An ability to quickly adjust to a new working environment or industry would be a plus as ABG is a vast organization and during the first year you will get to experience these shifts. You should be a go-getter who completes any task assigned to him irrespective of the challenges. If there is a new information, new skill or a new tool that has to be learnt then you should make sure that you learn it with the available resources at your disposal and get the task done.
ABG is a one of those few organizations which are genuinely value driven. Any kind of value violation is taken as a very serious offence. So, whenever you are interviewing or giving a psychometric test, you have to be very honest with yourself because if you are trying to fool yourself while giving psychometric or during interviews then it will backfire for sure. ABG always ensures that you’re aligned with the its values.
Biswadip: The stints you have explained about the ABG seems to be focused at diverse backgrounds, can you please shed some light on the various challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Ajinkya Domale: Yes, the stint can vary from retail to manufacturing, the two extremes of the same spectrum in terms of the work culture and kind of work. So, it is important to be observant for a couple of weeks and matching your style of working as per the organizational work culture. The most important part is that you should be good at people management, you should be able to fit in at any work culture.
Biswadip: My last question is how is life different after MBA and what would be your advice to students who are looking forward to build their career at ABG?
Ajinkya Domale: The corporate career is obviously different from the MBA life. The diversity of ABG lets you explore depths & breadths of industries as well as business functions. Also, ABG is one of the few companies which gives equal importance to both work as well life.
Advice to students looking to build their career with ABG is pretty simple, they should ensure that they are aligned with the values of ABG, values are something which cannot be learned, values are something default in our DNA. Hence, it is more about understanding yourself and see how you could fit into the culture. Other hygiene things about cracking the selection process remains the same. Also, having the knowledge about different industries & sectors in which ABG is present would be a plus.
Biswadip: That was a very insightful interview and will help people to know more about ABG. We are very grateful for your time. Thank you so much.