The Conversation was conducted by the Corporate Relations and Placement Committee, IIFT Delhi for ABGLP Woo ME Competition Season 2's Second Round.
IIFT Delhi: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Mr. Pandey: I graduated in Electronics and Communications Engineering from JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida. I then worked in Accenture for two years as an Oracle developer. I then prepared for the MBA entrance exams and got into XLRI to do an MBA in Business Management. I got an opportunity to intern at the Aditya Birla Group. I worked in Aditya Birla Financial Services Group (which is now Aditya Birla Capital). The project I did, went live after a year. After my internship, I was offered a PPO. Post my MBA, I joined the Aditya Birla Group. During the first year, I had three stints of four months each at ABOF, Idea and Peter England. After one year, I joined as an Area Retail Manager for Planet Fashion which is the retail arm of ABFRL. That has been the journey so far.
IIFT Delhi: What is your role at ABG? And what does your day typically consist of?
Mr. Pandey: I am Area Retail Manager for ABFRL. Right now, I am working under the Lifestyle brand. Lifestyle majorly retails four brands (LP, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England). I look after the sales and operations for 11 stores. As part of my responsibilities I examine sales targets and how efficiently the stores are being run.
And regarding my day, first of all, I do not have to go to the office because I have to visit stores. I visit the office only 3-4 times a month. I head for a certain store for which I schedule a month early. I go there and do basic operation checks, I talk to the manager, I look at the sales and that is how the day goes.
IIFT Delhi: What is the work culture like at Aditya Birla Group?
Mr. Pandey: There are many companies under the umbrella called Aditya Birla Group. Every company has its own and unique culture. I will be able to talk about ABFRL and you can extrapolate it to the culture of other companies in Aditya Birla Group. The people are very supportive, both in upper and middle management. You never feel isolated. There is always someone who you can approach when you are facing a difficult situation. Overall, they are pretty supportive but they expect you to give your 100%.
IIFT Delhi: What are the challenges associated with your role? What is your advice to aspirants on how they can prepare for the role?
Mr. Pandey: My only advice to the aspirants would be not to limit themselves at this very early phase in life in terms of function or company or location. Do not just go after glamorous roles. This is the time to explore. You face so many things in your professional life that MBA doesn’t prepare you for. The ARM role I am in, a lot of things I do, especially people management, an MBA necessarily doesn’t prepare you for that. But do not worry about that as ABG gives you enough opportunities to learn and grow. There is no pressure on you initially. Accept any opportunity that comes in your way and excel in it. If you’re not able to excel in it, take help from the people around you. Remember one thing, it is okay to fail at ABG. No one judges you on your failures, they judge you on your recovery from the setback. You will be presented with another opportunity.
IIFT Delhi: What’s your advice on how to get into Aditya Birla Group?
Mr. Pandey: First step would be to get ABG to your campus. Once the company gets there, the process is straightforward. You will have a Psychometric Assessment, GD and PI. They choose people who fit into their culture. My only advice is to stay true to yourself – both in the psychometric assessment and PI.
IIFT Delhi: Let’s talk about LEAP. What was your experience during the year and what were your key takeaways from LEAP?
Mr. Pandey: As I said, as a LEAP candidate I did three stints during the first year. I had an inclination towards digital and fortunately, we had ABOF then which was my first preference and company considered it. I enjoyed the marketing stint at ABOF. Post that, I was again looking for a digital role. They again considered it. They gave me a role in Idea related to product management. I enjoyed this role as well. Both the roles were very satisfying in terms of learning and the people I met. The third stint, I had a preference for Bangalore and they again considered it. I got into ABFRL and I liked it so much that I wanted my final role here and I finally got it. So, overall the first year was very satisfying. There is a lot to learn. It just depends on the individual on how much he wants to do. You can also travel overseas for a stint.
In the first year, you have Young Talent Management (YTM) to help you. They listen to your preferences (functional, company and location). They are very supportive and encourage you to take challenging roles. Roles that you had not thought of. Roles which do not appear glamorous initially. You will realize the value they add only once you start taking those roles.
IIFT Delhi: How has your professional growth been so far and what are your plans for the future?
Mr. Pandey: I am still at a very early stage in my career. I am currently an Area retail manager. Next level would be to be a Regional Manager. Being a LEAP candidate helps but the professional growth ultimately depends on your potential and its purely meritocratic.
We would like to thank Mr. Saurabh Pandey 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.