IIMK Internship ‘K’ronicles – Himanshu Mittal, Mahindra & Mahindra (Strategy)

With the ‘Summer Internship’ season coming to an end, IIM Kozhikode presents ‘Internship ‘K’ronicles’- an account of internship experiences from some of the brightest minds on ‘K’ampus.

In the first edition, we present an interview with Himanshu Mittal (Batch of 2013-15), who interned with Mahindra & Mahindra. Himanshu has completed graduation in Chemical Engineering from NIT Warangal and has around four years of prior work experience in the FMCG sector with ITC and HCCB.

Here’s what he had to say about his exciting stint with Mahindra & Mahindra:

1.      What was the domain and role offered to you at Mahindra & Mahindra?

I was working in the Group Strategy Office as a GMC summer intern. The Group Management Cadre (GMC) is a program that grooms young managers for leadership positions.

2.      You were successful at landing with one of the coveted niche roles at Mahindra. How would you describe your interactions with the senior leaders?

It was quite enriching both in terms of knowledge as well as experience. Moreover, the leaders in the office were from diverse backgrounds which helped me in critically reviewing my recommendations. My discussions with senior managers were on a wide variety of topics and their insights truly broadened my perspective.

3.      Describe the project assigned to you in brief along with some of the challenges you faced.

The project that I was assigned required me to improve the customer acquisition efficiency of Mahindra First Choice Services (MFCS) which is in the business of multi brand car servicing. The biggest challenge was that the issues pertaining to this business were well known and company has already tried several options and as a result I had to come up with an innovative approach to the problem.

4.      You have worked with leading organizations such as ITC and HCCB in the past. How different was your work environment at a conglomerate like Mahindra &Mahindra from the FMCG firms?

M&M is much more diversified than the FMCG organizations I’ve worked with in the past and therefore the complexity increases by same magnitude. However, comparison of FMCG business with conglomerates like M&M is like comparing apples and oranges. FMCG is a non-cyclical industry and hence HCCB and ITC were sales oriented organizations. I used to work for everyday numbers (sales or manufacturing) in FMCG whereas in M&M the innovation aspect was most important and hence I worked on long term issues rather than daily operations.

5.      Did the knowledge gathered from your prior work experience help you during the internship?

Yes, it definitely did. Few of my recommendations were due to knowledge gathered from my prior work experience. Another important aspect is that I was pretty comfortable with people management due to my work in operations in ITC and HCCB.

 6.      PGP students at IIMK are known to undergo great academic rigor along with being involved in several B-school competitions, projects and committees/ clubs. How has all this contributed in honing your personality?

These activities have armed me with a myriad of soft skill sets such as presentation and team-work related skills. These activities obligated me on alternative thinking and pried in biased perspectives. The most important aspect of IIMK which contributed in my development is peer group learning. What I have learnt from my peer group in IIMK supersedes all other activities of B school. Here I am not undermining the importance of other activities but trying to emphasize on the academic life in a B-school that involves frequent team work with peers.

7.      What was the most interesting aspect about your stint with Mahindra & Mahindra?

The unconstrained and unconditional freedom of work which is part of the ‘Rise’ philosophy of M&M was unique and thus I could work with a certain degree of autonomy.

8.      Apart from delivering an excellent performance in your project, what other factors do you consider important for excelling in a large conglomerate?

Understanding the organizational dynamics and your personality traits is most important. In conglomerates there are movements across verticals and businesses so it may be difficult to succeed in all. You need to figure out which business or vertical dynamics suit your personality and what kind of tradeoffs are you willing to make. Some people start at the group level and then move to different businesses while some learn about few businesses and then move on to a group level role such as corporate strategy. Both approaches are right but only one approach suits a particular person. That’s the most important aspect which must be considered.

9.      Having worked in the FMCG sector in the past and in a conglomerate like Mahindra & Mahindra during the summer, what sector and role would you like to pursue in the future?

I would keep myself open for any sector because every sector has its unique business challenges and industry dynamics. As far as role is concerned I want to work in business or corporate level strategy because I feel that the top down approach in career progression suits me. I want to have a broad level perspective initially and then move to specific business.

10.  You have been actively involved in finance and strategy related activities on campus. What advice would you like to give to the incoming junior batch about interning in finance and strategy roles?

That’s interesting. First let me admit honestly that in my view, my involvement has been very limited but I would love to increase it. For roles in finance and strategy, there are various opportunities- pure finance related roles, business, corporate or functional strategy roles, or a combined role of finance and strategy which may be in mergers and acquisition (M&A). The most important aspect is to gauge your interest and couple it with the opportunities. There may be very few companies that provide opportunities for corporate and business level strategy and other roles such as strategic M&A. Pure finance and functional strategy roles are abundant. Therefore, find out your interest, see how far you are willing to go for a desired role and work hard towards it throughout your stay on ‘K’ampus.

11.  If you had to describe your stint at Mahindra & Mahindra in five words, what would they be?

Superb learning with fun time.


 Interview conducted by:

Ipsita Acharya- Media Cell, IIM Kozhikode


This article has been complied by the Media Cell of IIM Kozhikode as part of the ‘Internship Kronicles’ series. For further information please contact us at media@iimk.ac.in