"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you!"
Staying true to the words of Aldous Huxley, I'm hell-bent on making the most out of my 50 days here at the global headquarters of Unilever by not ruminating either about the possible outcomes or about how I really got here. Of all the things that I know, getting a Pre-Placement Offer (PPO) at the end of the internship is a function of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, but all the learning that I get and the memories I create here are mine to embrace forever and ever!
I was selected by the Indian subsidiary of Unilever - Hindustan Unilever Limited (which is also the second largest money minter for Unilever after Unilever US) for its highly coveted Unilever Leadership Internship Program (ULIP) under the Sales & Marketing domain in the summer placements drive conducted by my institute IIM Indore back in September '16. As aforementioned, I won't really go into the nitty-gritty of how I got selected because that is anyway a farrago of chance, personal biases of interviewers and of course the candidate's skills.
Fast forward to April 10, 2017 when I landed in London after already being overwhelmed by an absolutely well-organised and fun-fraught 3-day induction program at the HUL Headquarters in Mumbai. As soon as I landed, my eyes were brimming with the sights of the marvel and beauty of the city of London and my mind with the thoughts of not just acclimatising myself to the atmosphere of a foreign office ASAP but also proving myself (read creating a niche for myself) among those who are arguably the most prolific minds in the field of FMCG marketing. However, it took no time for a host of such apprehensions to fade away as my colleagues at Unilever House were as humble and welcoming as they were smart!
In the very first work week, we were greeted by a 4 day weekend, thanks to Good Friday and Easter Monday, which we made a good use of by reconnoitering the iconic sights of London and swooning at their marvel (This description of my feelings is as hyped as the tourist hot-spots of London :P). The following week was spent rather restlessly due to the lack of clarity and direction on the two projects assigned to me by the Global Director of Consumer and Market Insights (CMI) for the brand 'Dirt is Good'. Dirt is Good is actually a representative name for various brands flourishing under different brand names in different countries such as Omo in Brazil and SA, Ala in Argentina, Persil in the UK, USA, and Thailand and Surf Excel in India (Yes! The Daag acche hain waali brand :P)
For any intern, having a lucid understanding of his/her projects and being very sure about his/her deliverables and the exact expectations of the mentor/tutor/line manager is of paramount importance. It's easier said than done and once he/she is able to crack this code, half the battle is already won! For me, it took time (around 2 weeks to say the least) but fortunately, I could catch the train before it was too late.
No matter how boring it seems but I won't be doing justice to this write-up without giving a brief introduction of my projects which seem very intriguing and of critical importance for the company to at least me. My first project is fancifully called Project Gaia (Gaia means Earth in Greek) which is all about making sustainability a driving force in the Fabric Cleaning portfolio of Unilever. I'm working with the Dirt is Good team in particular for this project. My second project is an amalgamation of strategy and marketing where I've to identify the growth opportunities for the Home Care category of Unilever in Europe for the coming 4-5 years. Hopefully, I'll be able to make a substantial contribution to the organisation with my inputs and some of them will be put to use even after my stint ends.
This internship has been a lot about gaining experiences at places other than at work. In our quest of never shying away from optimally utilising the extended weekends, we set our foot on the land of Bagpipers - Scotland for 3 days and had a quirky experience of staying in a super lavish sea-facing apartment on one night and then in a quintessential shared and no-frills hostel on the next night in the very same city - Edinburgh.
The final and probably the most crucial leg of my internship is still imminent and promises to be a high-octane package of project-related challenges, the final presentation and of course - much more sightseeing!