For Rohit Sodha, FORE School of Management became the learning ground where he learnt nuances of the business world, being part of the PGDM batch of 2003-05. From getting his first hands-on training in the world of management during his summer internship to his crazy experiences of getting selected into McKinsey & Co. from campus, Rohit shares his story to InsideIIM detailing his career graph. He refers to the contribution of FORE School of Management that helped him in shaping up his career, in this interview. Find the excerpts of the interview here:
Q) Why did you decide to do an MBA and that too from FORE School of Management?
After acquiring technical skills during my Bachelor's program in Computer Science Engineering I felt the need to gain management skills to be able to pursue a career in general management. An MBA program gives students a very good overview of the various fields of management education and FORE was the ideal institution given its extensive corporate relations, holistic approach to learning, great faculty, and excellent placement record
Q) What were some of the things you learned in the process in the two years that you have spent in the B-school? With hindsight do you think they helped you carve your career?
In addition to the rigorous academic program, what helped me grow as an individual was the extensive contact with companies and the possibility to undertake multiple extra-curricular activities like company projects, sports, and B-school management competitions. I was made the Sports Captain in my final year and we won multiple Gold medals that I am proud of. We also won multiple B-school case competitions and were able to bring laurels to FORE. This all-round development and zeal to win has contributed a lot to my life
Q) Tell us a bit about your summer internship experience? Was it your first entry to the corporate world? How did that change things for you?
Yes, the summer internship at Vertex Plc was my first foray into the corporate world and I was lucky to have a project with the Corporate Development team reporting to the Group CEO. In addition to learning about a new industry and company I really enjoyed working with my mentors – they guided me and supported me through the entire internship and kept in touch afterward too and finally gave me a Pre-placement offer. To this day I am in touch with my mentors and have fond memories of the time I spent at Vertex Plc
Q) From campus, you landed into McKinsey and Co. and things have changed a lot in all these years. Tell us a bit about some challenges you faced and how you overcame those?
As is well known, McKinsey has a very rigorous recruitment process and I recollect the grueling selection day that started at 8:30 am and my result was announced at 1 am (not pm)! There could not have been a better start to my career as I could learn from a very international environment, best-in-class knowledge assets, and highly competent and driven colleagues. McKinsey deliverables are top notch and it takes time before a new joinee can start producing those kinds of results – this was frustrating initially but the support of my colleagues and the structured onboarding programs help newcomers like me overcome these obstacles. Being able to convey a story to senior management is a priceless skill and my stint at McKinsey helped me develop that
Q) Tell us about a project that tested not just your knowledge but persistence as well?
Persistence is hugely underrated – as head of Amazon’s Devices business for the German speaking countries we were confronted by low adoption rates compared to other developed countries. We analyzed the reasons and started to solve them gradually – a turning point came when a large European electronics retailer accepted our offer of a strategic partnership and started showcasing these products to walk-in customers across their stores in the EU. Customer acceptance improved after people could touch and feel the products and consult store staff – this did not happen overnight and did test the entire team’s patience. Persistence is key to success – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Q) Tell us a bit about your current role and how you think your B-school learning has helped you make better decisions now?
In my current role as Managing Director – Germany for Bunzl Plc I’m responsible for the performance of our portfolio companies and for acquisition powered growth of the portfolio. We have diverse businesses, and it is difficult to become an expert in all of them so it becomes important to understand the key drivers of these businesses, having good management teams in place, clear performance management systems and a strong outreach program for acquisition targets. Core values of teamwork, being receptive to new ideas, learning from mentors, being persistent and working hard to achieve lofty goals are what I acquired during my formative years and I continue to rely on them till date
Q) What next for you?
I believe in creating collective multi-dimensional success – this means success for everyone around me and not monetary success alone but the larger good of society as a whole (issues like social equality, climate protection, wildlife conservation, eradication of poverty, responsible consumption etc). I also continue to be an advocate for mental health – my book “Happiness to the power of infinity” is a small step in this direction. All this will require a lot of persistence and hard work and this is what gives me the inspiration to wake up everyday and give my best
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