The Conversation was conducted by the Corporate Relations and Placement Committee, IIFT Kolkata for ABGLP Woo ME Competition Season 2’s Second Round.
This is a conversation with Mr. Ankan Saikia, Digital Marketing Manager for Pantaloons at Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd that
helped in getting a sneak peek into Aditya Birla Leadership Program (LEAP) and how it helped in his transition through
various phases in corporate life to become a leader that he is today.
IIFT Kolkata: Tell me about yourself?
Mr. Saikia: I completed my B.Tech. in Mechanical engineering from NIT Nagpur and went on to work for almost 3 years with the
"Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, Vizag Steel Plant (A Public Sector Enterprise)" as a Junior Manager. Later I went on to
pursue a degree in MBA from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.
IIFT Kolkata: Tell us about your professional experience with Aditya Birla as a Leadership Associate and further?
Mr. Saikia: After completing my MBA I began my stint with Aditya Birla Group as a Leadership Associate under the Aditya Birla
Leadership Program (LEAP). During my first year, I worked in 3 different industries for about 4 months each to expand my
knowledge across business verticals. First stint was in the telecom sector in the Maharashtra and Goa region on mobile
broadband services. Next was with Linen club apparel (GRASIM) to strategize a 5 year plan for revenue target planning,
and with Thai Acrylic Fibre to strategize the path for end-to-end process implementation of Carbon Fibre. The last was an
International stint with Thai(Carbon Black) in Thailand to map the market segment and market size for carbon black in the
South East Asia market.
The second year introduced me to fashion retail where I contributed in strategic alliances, BTL marketing activities, festive
plan calendars and budgeting for Pantaloons. I launched ‘MTV Pantaloon Style Superstar’, one of the many campaigns
that I launched in order to promote the brand Pantaloons.
IIFT Kolkata: What would you say about your professional growth at Aditya Birla?
Mr. Saikia: Being a conglomerate that has its presence in various industries, ABG provided me with a platform to explore my
interest in any industry of my choice by learning while doing. Ranging from Telecom, Manufacturing to Apparel, it gave
me an opportunity to develop my functional skills of marketing, operations and strategy to get an all-round development
environment. The learning curve in each stint was astonishingly steep and yet enriching, which was coupled with enough
flexibility to have my way with my career.
IIFT Kolkata: What is your one special anecdote of the LEAP program?
Mr. Saikia: Many elements of the LEAP program assisted me to climb the ladder of success and emerge out as a leader. My
international stint in Thailand with the Thai(Carbon Black) was the most enriching experience during LEAP. The kind of
learning and exposure it provided me was unmatched. It also gave me a good exposure to general management role as I
had to manage and interact with numerous stakeholders to complete the project.
IIFT Kolkata: Tell us about the culture at Aditya Birla group, and how does it vary across different industries within the group?
Mr. Saikia: The various industries under ABG have different cultures when it comes to doing the business, however the
commonality that binds most of them is the empowering and nurturing environment in the culture. Internal case study
competitions along with consistent learning modules to keep everyone abreast with latest happening in the industry is
what is the greatest value addition.
IIFT Kolkata: What advice would you give to LEAP aspirants?
Mr. Saikia: My advice to anyone looking forward to ABG would be to take everything to your stride. Focus on learning, as there
will be a lot of avenues for it. You can limit yourself in ABG only if you want to, otherwise the exposure is limitless. Be it
any industry or any vertical, hard work will be the key to learn and apply market and product insights into business.
Challenge yourself in every situation and provide something extra, because in ABG, an opportunity is just around the
corner for you to shine.
We would like to thank Mr. Ankan Saikia for enlightening the students of our Institute on the culture of Aditya Birla Group, LEAP and sharing invaluable career advice with budding aspirants at a very critical juncture of their careers.