The Chairman’s Office And Me | Internship Experience Of Sneha Ratakonda At RPG Enterprises | IIFT Delhi

Finance internships which are opened in a business school are usually of two types, banking or corporate finance. Within banking, some lucky few get to work in the glitzy investment banks and burn the midnight oil for eight weeks. These were the roles I assumed I would intern in, before joining IIFT and before sitting through summer placements. Contrary to that, however, I got an opportunity to intern in the Chairman’s Office of RPG Enterprises and personally get involved in wealth management planning and strategy for one of India’s foremost business houses, the Harsh Goenka group.

To start the story right from the beginning, being from a commerce background, I was very clear about the domain of my choice; finance. However, my ultimate career ambition is to reach the topmost echelons of corporate management and this led me to apply for the General Management role offered by RPG. Imagine my surprise and utmost joy when after multiple rounds of interviews, I was told that I would instead be getting a finance project and that too in the Chairman’s Office!

Once we bid goodbye to the year of 2016, it was time to get back to the mundane ways of life and look for the basic human necessities in the City of Dreams, aka Mumbai. The company was offering us guesthouse accommodation but it was more than 20 kilometers away from the office. All the dire warnings about the Mumbai Local led me to get an apartment in Dadar with 3 of my fellow IIFTians. The food was always simple for a non-cook; eat whatever and whenever, while you still can. The all-important amenity of clothing was simple to address- a huge shopping expedition!

April 3rd 2017 was the first day I went to RPG House which is situated in Worli. Boy was I blown away by the building! The office is renowned all over the industry for being one of the most aesthetically pleasing, decorated with beautiful paintings and sculptures belonging to the personal collection of Mr. Goenka. I was especially charmed with the balconies on each floor which were designed to be pretty gardens, overlooking the visage of the Bandra-Worli Sea Face.

The induction program saw 43 interns from the top B-schools across the length and breadth of the country and we all got a chance to interact with business heads across domains, belonging to each of the 7 companies under the RPG umbrella. Their invaluable answers to the questions posed by us gave us insight into what actually goes into the decision – making in a corporate setting. We also had ice- breaking sessions between ourselves, and this helped us establish a friendly dynamic which would continue for the remaining two months.

The next day saw us get down to the crux of the internship and I was introduced to my buddy. It was then that my project was formally introduced to me. Deceivingly titled, “Group Investment Strategy and Management, I was astonished to realise that the entire gambit of my project revolved around personal investment. My buddy outline the brief required from me for the next two months and I realised just how underprepared I was!

Essentially, I was asked to draft the entire framework of planning investments across various asset classes, evaluate the options under each and continuously monitor the said investments. I was also enlisted to apply my devised framework to current conditions and give a recommendation of investments to be held. Along with that, I also had to value the existing investments of the group and help with any other tasks which arise out of the Chairman’s Office. Little did I know that the last part turned out to be one of the most interesting things!

The first couple of weeks went by in trying to understand the vast field of investment management and strategies. Google became my best friend, and coffee became a staple in my diet! Economic cycles, business cycles, industrial analyses, value investment, growth investment; these terms started to haunt even my dream. My buddy had access to stock market reports and industrial reports from a variety of fund houses which he shared across with me, which also helped me immensely. Amidst all of this, the stock market was hitting newer and bigger heights every day. After a lot of research and readings, I finally felt confident enough to officially start off with the execution of my project.

First, I drafted the entire flow of the methodology used in my framework. After a lot of discussions, I settled on using the Economic Cycle Theory which states that the stage in which the economy is in determines the industries which are predicted to do well. With the backing of this, I set out to include the various macro factors which would be analysed to determine the state of the economy. The movement of these factors was detailed in the framework and specific weightages was assigned to equity, debt, hybrid and alternative investments.

Once the exact avenues of investment were determined, the next step was to analyse the various options under it. The fundamental analysis was chosen for the same. Using the targeted sectors, various securities were chosen to be analysed and a host of filters was applied. Profitability, liquidity, risk, growth were just some of the factors analysed. In the selection of the final security, the Value Investment strategy is chosen which automatically picks the lower priced security over the higher priced one. For the monitoring mechanism, the chosen investments are constantly monitored against the performance of the benchmark, and hold or sell is determined by the same. Throughout the entire process, I was lucky to have my buddy as an apt sounding board and advice giver.

Devising the framework was just one part of the experience; the actual hard work was to apply it to current situations. Though I tried to keep the model as dynamic as possible, a lot of static data had to be fed into it. Moneycontrol, BSE, NSE, ValueResearch; these websites became perennially suggested ones on my website search. In the middle of all this, I also had to value some of the existing holdings of the group. On two memorable days, I was even handed signed cricket memorabilia from the 80s and 90s, and was asked to name all the players! I take this forum to sincerely apologise to all the other members of my WhatsApp groups for the spamming required to complete this exercise.

Finally, the day of the final review arrived. I was concentrating so much on getting through unscathed that I completely forgot about the Best Summer Intern competition which RPG conducts under the name of Arjuna Awards. No one was more surprised than me to be informed that I was one of the shortlisted fourteen people who get to compete and present to an elite panel of corporate honchos of the various businesses.

I had exactly one night to make the necessary amendments to my presentation to make it worthy of being presented to these leaders. On the final day, I was so nervous about the ten-minute time limit that I rushed through my presentation and finished it in a little over eight minutes! However, I was happy that I stood my ground in the Q&A session and answered the panellists’ questions to the best of my abilities.

The results were declared in the evening of the final day at RPG House. The entire day flew past in a multitude of tying up loose ends and saying goodbye to all the lovely people I was fortunate to meet in those two months. Result time approached and to my complete joy and bemusement, I was declared the 1st place winner! Words fail me when it comes to describing the feeling of that amazing day. We had a cocktail dinner in the office to herald the end of an unbelievable two months and to bid adieu to all the super talented interns who I had the pleasure of meeting. And thus ended my summer internship in the Chairman’s Office at RPG Enterprises.

The two months experience was everything I had hoped for, and more. I learnt so much in that two months than in maybe the past five years of education. More than that, I got to spend it in a company like RPG where every single person is dedicated and committed to work and still manage to create a happy and cheerful work environment. Every single employee is warm and welcoming and is ready to help you in a heartbeat. I can safely say that I left Mumbai with a head full of knowledge, a heart full of warm memories and a wistful smile of nostalgia.

Sneha Ratakonda

Sneha Ratakonda is a second year student at IIFT Delhi, and she comes from a background of CA and CS. In her free time, she loves reading and writing fiction, playing badminton and trying to get over her bathroom singing habit.