The Conversation was conducted by the Corporate Relations and Placement Committee, IIFT Delhi for ABGLP Woo ME Competition Season 2's Second Round.
We at IIFT Delhi got a chance to talk to Ms Uma Somireddi, Leadership Associate, Aditya Birla Group and got to know a great deal about her and her association with ABG. Here is the snippet of the interview that left us with valuable learning and a great deal of positivity.
IIFT Delhi: Please tell us about yourself and your role at ABG.
Ms Somireddi: I have pursued B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur (2010-14) and got placed in Vodafone India, where I worked for a year. It was then that I realized I should move on to the business side of things because as a part of my Vodafone experience, I also got a great exposure to sales and retail which piqued my interest. I moved on to work with OYO in a leadership role as a Micro Market CEO. During that time, I realized pursuing MBA would help me further to push my interests and hence I decided to join IIM Kohzikode (2017-2019). I am a very outdoorsy person and love -playing basketball. I even played in inter-IIM tournaments. I also love to sing and dance.
Coming to my role at ABG, I started working as a Leadership Associate at ABG from June 2019. Getting into ABG has been quite a journey. In the first year at IIM Kozhikode, I was shortlisted for the Aditya Birla Group Scholarship. I represented my college at the national level along with three others for the final interview post a series of tests. I was offered a PPI and interned at ABG for my summers. I also received a Pre-Placement Offer from ABG post my internship. The journey so far has been very enriching and is getting exciting for me as I am progressing in my role.
IIFT Delhi: Tell us about your personal and professional growth through the times you interned with ABG till now that you have started working with them.
Ms Somireddi: I had an amazing experience during the summer internship. I got a chance to interact with many higher executives of the company which gave me a lot of perspective. I worked for the first time in the retail sector and had tremendous amounts of learning in the 2 months. Working here helped me understand how conglomerates function and the amount of work that goes into maintaining the synergies between each one of their firms. ABG is diversified into many industries like finance, fashion, metals, mining etc. and I am looking forward to work in some of them.
IIFT Delhi: What are the challenges you have faced during your internship and your two months into the company? How did you overcome them?
Ms Somireddi: I come with 3 years of work experience and hence I am a bit aware of how corporate functions. But a new place, a new culture and a new environment, will always come with a new set of challenges and difficulties. During the internship, we are expected to learn things on the go and also complete the tasks given to us. It is not feasible to approach a senior a hundred and one times, asking him/her about every little thing. And it becomes quite challenging. But slowly, I realized that it was only through building cordial relationships with everyone, be it my colleagues or seniors that I could learn so much. So it is not always about getting our work done, but also about building trust and harmony with everyone which shall become our strength and help us succeed in the longer run.
IIFT Delhi: Now that you have worked for two months at ABG, can you brief us about the work culture there and how can it help you in building your path to the future?
Ms Somireddi: ABG ensures that everyone joining the Leadership program works across 3 companies in the first year and gets a flavor of how the companies and the Group function as a whole. The leadership style in a finance firm will be very different from that of a fashion or cement industry firm because of the varied challenges each of this industry possess. And we as LEAPs get to experience all of this right under one roof right from our first year at ABG. Currently I am working with Birla Sun Life Insurance and the people here are very inclusive, receptive and are quite helpful irrespective of their rank or position. Both the group companies that I worked for maintain a commendable gender balance. The group values everyone’s time and makes sure that we are offered with challenging roles and are learning continuously.
IIFT Delhi: Any closing thoughts to MBA aspirants about life and career?
Ms Somireddi: I think when in college, most of us are driven by one big goal: get placed in the company or domain of our choice. And in the process we forget to see the bigger picture. It is good to have a domain of preference but at the same time we shouldn't miss out on great opportunities that come our way. I heard from some of my peers and seniors that they went ahead to work in fields that were never in their top choices, but today they seem to be enjoying and are prospering in that field. So it is very important that you take bold risks at least in the beginning of your career and don't shy away from them. You never know, that might be your true calling. My suggestion is keep your options open and don’t restrict yourself, because that will close the doors to learning.
We would like to thank Ms Uma Somireddi 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.