With Asian Paints, Success Is Not A Destination, It Is A Journey – Pankaj Mann, IIM Lucknow

It was the afternoon between two exams. Gloomy eyes I saw, it was ten past four, but I decided to sleep for some more time. Only a few moments might have passed and I was neither asleep nor awake, I was just hanging there waiting for some wild thought to sway me to sleep and then I heard some sound, I know it was familiar I have heard it before. I knew this sound. I thought I was thinking in my sleep! And, then it hit me, “it’s my ringtone” and I woke up to my ringing phone! There was no name displayed on the screen, Truecaller was trying to find the name but was only loading. It has been few days and Truecaller was not working properly for me. I half sleep I picked up the call, “Hi, it’s Dhruv calling from AP” I was attentive again, the sleep started to sweep away! I was going to Chennai, they have changed my location to Chennai from Bangalore!  I felt different, I don’t know if it was due to sleep or was it my fear to go to a new place which I felt at that moment.

All this time I was putting up a brave front to show that I’m fine and I’ll enjoy Chennai, but I was not sure. I was excited, very much but scared at the same time. I was shaky about this until my sponsor asked me if I wanted he can change my location in a second. It was then it hit me all, all the words I have heard before, “South India is an entirely different market, you’ll learn something new, you go there and you’ll find out” and other thoughts! It was then I decided at the very moment, I’ll go to Chennai!

Like any other b-school student I was determined to make it big out of my internship! I had one goal in my mind, to grab that PPO, and to make it here. But I was forgetting there was more to it than my PPO. For the first two weeks, I was clueless about my project. Nothing was making sense and I felt it was going nowhere. Then one day I shared my discomfort with my buddy assigned here and he took me on customer visits and store visits and tried to explain to me how the things work. He was trying to convince me not to spoil the fun of the internship by constantly looking for the end result. It was not until I recalled the famous quote which was my wallpaper for a few days back in engineering, ‘Success is a journey, not a destination’ that it hit me! As a matter of fact, this was the topic for my GD during the summer placements, and then I began to recall what all I said during the GD, I was now swaying away from my own philosophy? And I thought to myself, ‘that is not who I am’. If it is one thing I take pride in are my philosophies, and now I was not believing in them. Slowly all the thoughts I had during my GD started coming back to me and then it hit me! I was doing it all wrong.

That day was a defining moment for me, it changed my whole perspective, and now I was talking with customers with dealers all with a new spirit in my mind, I have to make my time here worth! Sure, language was a problem for me, but it never stopped me from doing anything, it might have made my stay difficult, but looking back did I regret that? NO. This place is amazing, sure mercury is high in here, and I have my own shade of tan, but when I sit at the rooftop on 16th floor at the place where I’m living, I forget it all! This is the place which cooled me down after beating the city traffic and the heat for the day!

When I decided I’ll go with marketing, I was not very sure, I always had my doubts about it, “Will it suit me?”, “Will I enjoy it?”; but now when I look back I can clearly see myself being with marketing for a long time! During my work here, I have come up with two-three original ideas, and the ‘high’ I got while coming up with those ideas, was relentless! Those moments were the defining moments for me; this project was a baby for me and I have lived with it for these past 6-7 weeks. This work ‘high’ is what pulled me into marketing, the kick you get when you do something exciting, and the insights you build while talking to people; that’s amazing! One thing I found out, it’s nothing like what is taught in books. No; it’s an experience, you live with it and you work! While to outsiders it may look as an intuition, your gut feelings, but it’s more than that. When you live such an experience you can foretell things which are going to happen with your every decision. One other thing which was a major takeaway for me here was, ‘every problem has its solution at the grass root level’. You can sit in the office and make presentations all day, make the team agree on your points, but if you are not in control of your ‘touch-points’ with customers and dealers, no matter how brilliant your strategy is, it will not succeed!

It’s just that the text on marketing is all prepared in hindsight, and we try to keep it with us trying desperately to use one or the other technique in the books, but they may never yield you anything if the situation is new and never been observed till now! No doubt the text helps us in building a perspective about things, but we need to come out of that and start looking at these ‘touch-points’ to build our own understanding of the business.

Pankaj Mann

Pankaj Mann is a 22 years old electronics and communication engineer and a PGP2 student at IIM Lucknow. He's a huge Harry Potter fan and when he says his hobby is reading, he means reading Harry Potter again and again. He's an avid runner and a marathon enthusiast. His passion lies in teaching!