Initially, the good pay package and a well-established brand name are what attracted the students of IIM Sambalpur to the BPCL summer internship program. I got excited to look for what BPCL can offer me in terms of experiential learning. The company provided the role of a Third Party Business Consultant in its core function of Petrol and Diesel Retail. Our topic was “BPCL Retail Outlet Customer Satisfaction & Brand Evaluation”.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is a public sector oil & gas company. Public sector companies are famous for providing low or zero stipends, being less competitive in nature, and for having very less freedom of choice. After working for 2 months for BPCL as a summer intern, I found BPCL quite opposite to these notions as far as my internship is concerned. Apart from being one of the well-paid summer recruiters of our campus, it provided me with the best possible mentorship and an unbridled freedom to make decisions during the course of my internship. Fuel retail is also a highly competitive market with a cut-throat competition for market share between the three public sector oil retailers.
I was given Hyderabad as the location of market research. I visited BPCL Retail Outlets (RO) in the Hyderabad retail area and interviewed 1400 customers during 45 days of field visits to identify the problems and opportunities. I had been mentored by the able leadership of General Manager (Retail, South India Region) of BPCL. I had been given the freedom to decide the questionnaire as well as the number of customers I would interview. I had also been given freedom to visit any number of retail outlets as per my convenience.
Conversing with such a huge number of customers gave me great insight into retail business than the most office-based internships would have given. During most of my working hours, I was talking to the most important stakeholder of BPCL, the customer, and rest of the time to the second most important stakeholder, the dealer. After inspecting 60 BPCL ROs and talking to 1400 customers and 60 dealers, I prepared the internship report in which I provided the current problems & opportunities with BPCL retail business and my suggestions for improvement. I had also been assigned two ROs to implement my suggestions.
I presented my initial research methodology and questionnaire to the managers at South India Regional Office, Chennai to get my initial questionnaire approved. After completion of the internship, I presented the findings and suggestions to the following stakeholders.
- 60 dealers of Hyderabad retail area during a dealers’ conference.
- Managers at AP & Telangana state office.
- Managers at Hyderabad territory office.
- Managers at South India Regional Office, Chennai.
After the final presentation at Chennai, I left for home after spending 2 months with BPCL.
I would recommend this company to those who wish to work in the field of consulting, retail, or marketing in future. Those who are specifically looking for a career in Retail management will benefit hugely from the experience. For the preparation part, I would recommend you to read the basics about the following:
- Oil Companies
- Retail Management
In the first year, I did not study retail management but the following subjects provided me with a good insight into marketing management, strategy, and research:
- Marketing Management 1 & 2: A good understanding of the concept of 5C (Customer, Company, Competitors, Collaborators, and Context), 4P (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion), will help you understand the market, customer, and competition better and will help in making better decisions.
- Strategic Management 1 & 2: Knowledge of Ansoff's matrix, Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning, Strategic Alliances, SWOT Analysis, Competitive Advantage, etc. will help in making better strategic decisions.
- Marketing Research: Defining the problem, Research Design, Identification of data types to be used, preparation of the questionnaire, sample plan and size, Collection and analysis of the data are important to carry out market research.
BPCL does not provide PPO (Pre-Placement Offers). They mentioned initially that they want an unbiased and honest consultation by the interns. If they start providing PPOs, then interns will start sycophancy in order to impress management to get the PPO and the original purpose of unbiased consultancy will be lost. They treat interns as third-party consultants, not as a part of BPCL.
I love to travel a lot and talk to new people, I contributed as a good communicator and a good listener to customers, I travelled extensively in 45 days to cover 60 Retail Outlets of BPCL. I also contributed with few very good suggestions, which were appreciated by the Managers a lot, I can not write my suggestions here since I am not allowed to disclose the findings and suggestions as per the BPCL policy.
It had been a great experience working for BPCL as an intern and I will list some of the major advantages I got after interning at BPCL.
- Experiential learning of retail business, customer relationship management, marketing management, marketing research and strategic management.
- Learned to approach and initiate conversation with unknown customers.
- Improved my communication skills while conversing with around 1400 customers.
- Learned the process of identifying problems and provide solutions for them.
- Presentation skills improved due to 5 official presentations to BPCL management and stakeholders.
- Meeting several new people every day from different walks of life has enabled me to deal with people from every class of society.