THE BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY
Black Corporate Suit, Check.
Clanking Heels, Check.
Mature-looking rimless glasses, Check.
Corporate sector felt like that cool group of students in class whom everyone wanted to be like. These guys expected you to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, talk a certain way. This is exactly what the corporate sector ‘feel’ I had. The first day I was ready and raring to join that group, all set to show everyone my best foot forward.
Well, this was before I joined Reckitt Benckiser.
I spent days trying hard to figure out the exact ‘culture’ of Reckitt Benckiser until I cleared my misconception that a common culture does not equate to a homogeneous workforce. I saw people with distinct personalities each different from the other however motivated by the 4 core values of Achievement, Team Spirit, Ownership, Entrepreneurship. So that was my first basic lesson of the corporate world; it is not that uber cool gang in school, it is rather that nicer group of people who accept you the way you are.
My project was on creating a career path for non-managers in the supply function in factory locations across India and a couple of deliverables were associated with it. My internship location was in the Gurgaon head office. As a pre-preparation, I read up all possible articles and research papers I could find on it and I felt that I had a fairly good idea about career paths. As the project started, I was told that I would be travelling to multiple factory locations to help me understand the project better. After a brief introduction in the corporate office, my journey to the first factory location begun.
The first factory location was Sitarganj in Uttrakhand. This was a little city that I had never heard of was an industrial hub with factories of many major FMCGs also located there. Products like Harpic, Lysol, Dettol Handwash, Airwick, Dettol Soap etc. were manufactured here. As I entered the factory I was awed to see the shop floor. With hundreds of men and women working there, it was literally breathing a life of its own. I had never seen anything like it.
When I was in the corporate office the idea of completing my project excited me. BUT, it was only after spending days in the factory, did I actually understand my project. It was no longer about fancy frameworks and path-breaking policies. This was about people and their simple lives. It was like everything came into perspective. It was when I actually spoke to people and understood their jobs, their aspirations, their motivations, their plans did I actually understand the sheer need of my project. And that is from where the passion for doing the project actually emanated.
The next week I visited another plant in Himachal Pradesh to get a wider understanding. I entered the factory expecting to encounter a busy shop floor with huge machines and loud noises. Only, I was surprised to enter a factory which looked like a laboratory. With fewer automated and sophisticated machines, fewer manpower and a quietness where I could hear my own breathing, this factory was a completely new experience for me. The reason for this was the nature of the products that were being produced here. This was essentially a pharmaceutical factory where products like Moov, Strepsils, Ring Guard, D’ Cold, Gaviscon, Nurofen etc. were being produced. Needless to say, this was again a great learning experience for me.
BACK TO HOME GROUND
Now that my factory stints were over it was time to work in the corporate office. This was the time to jot down all my experiences from the factory and start working on creating the work for which I was hired. Corporate was another experience all together. For me, it is where the brain resides. The factory, like the rest of our body, is the execution ground. Needless to say, my project had a million iterations, changes, additions, subtractions done to it. There were numerous people whose insights I took, right from the Supply function to the Manufacturing to the Sales. Each insight gave a new dimension to the project and helped me think of a new perspective. Finally what came out at the end of 2 months was highly satisfying. More than anything, RB made me feel like my project mattered to them, and that friends, is a GREAT feeling. Whatever be the outcome, I go back to college with a warm feeling in my heart and a sense of pride.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS
The whole journey from the factory to the corporate and then working on my project was highly enriching. I felt like I had the best of both worlds. I have to admit, the easy environment that existed in RB was a catalyst. I did not feel out of place with the friendly team around me. Even late nights were enjoyable with people around me always ready to lend a helping hand. Not only did I earn immense learning from these 2 months but also take back home numerous memories, which I will always cherish.