Gurukul Diaries @ Godrej Properties

Fifteen days into my internship and I was still clueless of what was happening around. It was not that I had not put any efforts in the past 15 days, but it was that I was still directionless. The problem is not when your ship is sinking (assuming you know swimming!), but the real problem is that when you cannot find a shore for miles while your ship is sinking.

I am a girl with core finance background (a Chartered Accountant by qualification), who had no idea of anything related to construction. All that I knew was Accounting Standard 7, but it was nowhere close to what my project required. My Summer Internship “Gurukul” Project at Godrej Properties was on “Reducing the cost of construction using alternate material, methodology and technology”. The only thing that I understood from the Project title was that for finding “alternatives” I must first know the “existing” things. So here’s how my internship started with knowing all that was already known to the company!

First day at site and I could not understand the difference between Cement and Concrete and how could a building stand without having beams and columns (because that’s what I had learnt from a civil engineer in college, that buildings stand due to the load bearing structure…..beams, columns…) and the buildings at my site had no beams and columns! (It is called a Sheer Wall structure which I later got to know).So I was on a ship which did not look like a normal ship. But then I met the sailors of this ship- my guide Mr. Santosh Kumar and my buddy Mr. Naman Jani, who head the Projects Team at Godrej Garden City, Ahmedabad for Godrej Properties. Every person in the Project team was either a civil engineer or an electrical engineer, but basically an engineer. And I was nowhere close to any engineering knowledge. So the first task at hand was understanding the jargons of construction to be able to make just some sensible communication at site. This wasn’t difficult with the internet at my disposal. So after 8 hours office, 2 hours commuting time, the rest of my day was spent on the online courses –the basic modules of civil engineering, which I downloaded. And with constantly bugging whoever I could catch hold of at the site my basics of engineering were settled in the 15 days. I could now understand the ‘existing’. But I also understood the herculian efforts that had already been put by the company and its geniuses in value engineering. So now my quest to find the ‘alternatives’ in structure, finishing and services- the 3 major components of construction, became all the more difficult.

When I was about to give up on the project or ask for a change in project, a college senior and my family pushed me to exceed my limits. And then came the breakthrough idea- I decided to challenge the statusquo and study the structures with a complete fresh mind. That led me to conclude that what we thought costly could become cheaper with some specification changes. I got some green ideas for cost saving structure and my happiness knew no limits when they got approved by the structural consultant. (ofcourse with some changes to it!) .With the “Done, done, done” from my guide to every idea that I proposed to study, support and confidence of my buddy,all the data made available by the ever cooperative projects team and equipped with the Bschool technique of “Jugaad”, I went on to analyze the core components of COC(cost of construction) to the lowest level of detail possible. I got an opportunity to visit the Ceramic hub of India , study the manufacturing of tiles and get some custom made tiles for my company which were better in quality and luxurious feel, but cheaper in cost. Also the ABC Analysis, benchmarking, value engineering etc. helped me to work in the services domain to find the cost effective alternatives, thus completing all the major areas of CoC and saving whooping crores (not a platform to disclose the exact figure of savings) for the company!

So that’s how my summer internship project was completed. Hold on..if it sounded too hectic, too serious (read boring) and nerd kind of! Because I am yet to reveal the fun aspects. Godrej Industries is ranked as the “Best Employer” by Forbes in almost all the categories that it is into. A complete informal open culture, employee friendly atmosphere ,visionary leaders promoting leadership in every employee, a proud history to back upon, a trusted brand, a company which values ‘values’, ‘Good and green’ policies, is what makes Godrej Industries different and distinct, is what I had heard and had a first hand experience of. My first date with the company itself will be sufficient to explain the 2 months of fun at GPL. I was sent to Ahmedabad (the city of extreme temperature and mouthwatering vegetarian food!) with a co-intern from SIBM, Pune-Kinshuk Wadhwa. While our flight just landed at Ahmedabad Airport at 18.00 hours, we received a call from the HR stating that we were to report at Hotel Novotel to attend presentations to be held in the ECF at 20.00 hours. Unknown city, unknown people, unknown venue and most importantly unknown term –ECF .“What was that supposed to mean?”We thought it was some official meeting-presentations had be official afterall! So quickly dressed up in formal dresses we managed to reach the venue almost on time.And bang on’ ECF meant Employee Community Forum’ – which happened to be an informal party and a platform for employees to interact, be the CEO’s of the company, discuss the future of the project and take onus for completing it. It was a themed party with the theme being “Hippie” and we two interns were the only people in formals!!! So this was my ‘aha moment’ , our welcome and first exposure to the very cool culture of this 104 years young company “Godrej”. Rest 2 months in Ahmedabad were a mix of fun, excitement, learning and ofcourse the “super awesome food” (which made me put on 2kgs of weight!).And the last one week at the Godrej Chummery at Mumbai with the other co-interns from different B-schools added to the masti, learning opportunities and life long contacts.

Overall my 2 months internship at Godrej was fascinating, exciting and at times too demanding. The most important learning that this project gave me was the confidence “Yes, I can! I can venture into completely new territories and come out as a successful manager and enterpreneur!”All that is required is proactiveness, networking skills a little bit of sincere efforts. And to back this confidence I received the “Best Project” ( and an iPhone 6!) amongst the 44 interns at Godrej, who had come from the top B-schools of the country, which made my Gurukul diaries all the more happening!

Radhika Sarda, Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar

Radhika Sarda

A chartered Accountant and Business Management student at Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar