It is the wee hours of the morning and I feel sleep deprived. This feeling is shared by all my fellow candidates, those coordinating the placements and many recruiters as well, some of whom have travelled from far places to be at the campus in time. Everyone knows that this is how the summer placement process goes on TISS HRM and LR, commencing before sunrise and concluding before the sunset. The roll call is taken for everyone around this time.
After a long wait, I am ushered inside the room to face the recruitment panel of Kraft Heinz. I am asked many questions about prior experience, demonstrated skills in the past and my understanding of the FMCG industry. While I fumble at some questions, I answered the rest with confidence. I was asked to wait outside while the panel discussed my responses. After a few minutes, the verdict was out. I was selected!
As soon as I returned home from the gruelling day, I started looking for seniors who might have interned at Kraft Heinz before me. I could find no one as the company had visited our campus for the first time for summer placements. Fast forward to October 2018, and I receive the news that the Indian business of Kraft Heinz has been sold to Zydus Wellness. I became anxious about the impact of this news on my internship. I heaved a sigh of relief after I received a message clarifying that the internship would go on undeterred in the face of the acquisition.
The First Day
Finally, the starting day of the internship came and I was excited to begin the journey. To my surprise, a display card introducing me had already been pasted on the front door. This has been a long-standing tradition at the place. A display card introducing the new employee is pasted on the front gate on the day of joining of the new employee so that it becomes easier for everyone to make acquaintance. The same tradition was followed for us summer interns as well.
The company had taken only five people as interns. Hence, it was easy for us to mingle among ourselves. The first week was dedicated to orientation, market visit, and project briefing. The new employee orientation slides were shown to us in the same manner as it is shown to a new employee. This was followed by a briefing from all the function heads including sales, marketing, operations, finance, and HR. We were also briefed by the respective brand managers about the four brands held by the company which are Complan, Glucon D, Nycil and Sampriti ghee. We also received some cool welcome gifts.
The market visit was the most interesting part of my first week. Heinz follows a three-tier distribution system which starts with the carrying and forwarding agents, followed by stockist and wholesalers while the retail outlets are at the bottom of this system. A DSR operates from the distributor point and visits the retail outlets like chemists and kirana stores to get orders and collect payment. Each day, a DSR has to complete a beat assigned to him/her. One beat typically consists of around 35 outlets.
The DSR, to whom I was assigned, had his beat at Ghatkopar. I tagged along with the DSR as he went from shop to shop, pushing his products. I admired how he dealt with successive rejections and pushed ahead with his targets at the same time. I pitched in with calculations wherever shop owners demanded to know what margins could be on a specific number of units. After a gruelling day, we were able to achieve the day’s target.
Getting Started With The Project
After spending an entire day with a DSR and his SO, I had a fair overview of how the ground level sale is done. I briefed my project mentor about the market visit. She told me that the market visit formed the first step of one of the objectives of my project. This was followed by a project brief. I was supposed to perform a skill gap analysis of Sales Officers and then act as a project manager for the pilot run of the new learning management system. I also had to create content for some of the modules. I had never done something like this before so this made me a little nervous.
The skill gap analysis part required me to go on more market visits and bushfires. A bushfire is an activity when people from the office go out in the market with salespeople and attempt to achieve increased targets. All these trips to the market were an exciting opportunity wherein I roamed around the streets of places like Worli and Lower Parel to the Cheeta camp at Mankhurd. Some of these beats were 10 km long and tested one’s stamina and will power. These market visits were followed by telephonic interviews with Sales Officers and Area Sales Managers at other geographies. After the second week, I was able to collate all my findings and then present the areas of skill gap along with the corresponding remedial measures.
A lot of the remedial measures involved virtual training on the mobile platform followed by classroom refresher sessions. In line with this, I had to collaborate with our LMS vendor to create a mobile-friendly onboarding module. This part of the project turned out to be more difficult than I had expected as I had to move across different departments and get the relevant information available for content creation. This required a lot of thinking on the feet to quickly identify the people who could be central to information flow in each department and then quickly make acquaintance with them to get the information in time.
As soon as I got over the initial inertia, I was able to navigate freely inside the organization to get the right information at the right time. At the end of the third week, we had begun to convert all the information in a dynamic and engaging video format which a new employee could go through even while on the move.
There are several proprietary analytics tools and software that the company provides to the sales employees in order to empower them with data. A part of my objectives was to make ready reference video tutorials for these as well. This was completely new territory for me. The first step in this was to get hold of the SMEs and get an understanding of these tools. After due deliberations with the SMEs, I was able to chalk out a tutorial plan. To get this plan into action, I went through some video making tutorials on youtube and got hold of the screen recording and editing software appropriate for this job. As I did most of this activity at home, my home had become a fully-fledged recording studio replete with microphones and script readers.
Content making in this manner is a tedious, yet fulfilling task.
Now that a part of the onboarding module had been rolled out, I could run a pilot and drive up adoption. I invited all the new joiners of the last month to go through the onboarding content. The response to this pilot run was heartening as whoever started the course, went on for 100% completion signifying that the content was engaging. During the pilot run, I also created a system of dashboards and updates with the help of which, the HRBPs and ASMs could identify the lagging geographies or functions and take steps to drive up adoption over there.
The final leg of the project also involved designing a communication plan for the full-scale rollout of the LMS. At first, teaser posters were created to get people’s attention and create a buzz. Second, infographics would be released in order to disperse knowledge about the different modules of the LMS. Lastly, employees’ interest in the LMS would be maintained with the help of mailers, newsletters, and leaderboards. I also collaborated with a freelance artist to create a mascot and a logo for the LMS. Merchandise like t-shirts and caps printed with the mascot were also planned.
With so much happening all at once, I didn’t even realize when I reached the final week of the internship. The day of the final review came and I was given a chance to present the work done during my internship to the Sales head and the HR head among others. My nervousness before the presentation turned into relief when after the presentation, I was appreciated by both the Sales head and HR head for putting things in place which would have a clear impact on business.
The best thing about my internship was that I was exposed to the sales function in good measure along with my home function of HR. I also got a taste of how the digitization of processes and the move to digital is driving down costs and increasing efficiency. The organizations that get headway in this will have a clear competitive advantage over the others. At a personal level, I ended my internship with the satisfaction that I would be leaving behind content and systems that would add value to the target employees in their daily activities.
And it's a wrap!