Pranathi Amula’s Induction To The PepsiCo Family

I woke up, frantic to realize it was just 5:30 am. My first day to summer internship. It wasn’t my first internship. Nor was it my first job. Then why was it that I was scared I would get late? Maybe, it was because it was one of the biggest brands of the world. Of my world. And whenever I think of it, I literally, like literally pinch myself to realize it is not a dream. But maybe a dream come true. Maybe a boon was given free? I don’t know… I just had to sleep again.

Induction Day 1

Monday, 3rd  April 17

6:45- now, maybe I should wake up. Else, I would definitely be late. I went upstairs of the very cozy and warm guest house to wake up my fellow interns. And then time flew past like it had no regards for what a tornado my mind was hosting. It actually didn’t. we had the cabs waiting for us. Like their very own version of a convoy. We were 26 interns and had 7 cars inline ready to pick us up and drive us through the streets of Gurugram to take us to the headquarters.

I again had to psych myself about how I was standing in one of the leading brands of FMCG and also one of the market leaders in the food and beverages industry. PEPSICO. The name that resounded in my head, like it was on a TV Commercial, was actually my summer recruiter now. I was going to be working with PepsiCo for the next two months as a summer intern. Phew! How it seemed an impossible thing coming true.

We were greeted by a very warm HR Ms. Poorvi and led us into a meeting room which was a mini paradise in itself. Goodies goodies goodies! We did expect a bit of pampering, given that most companies indulged in intern satiation as the new trend. But this was a bit too much. We then had a simple intro session where we told our names and an adjective about us and why. It was a re-introduction of most of the interns than what we had back at the guest house. Poorvi then again tells us we have a coffee break. We were then introduced to Ms. Pavitra Singh the Talent Acquisition Head, who then walked us through what PepsiCo was and has been since its incorporation and ensured we had one funda grilled right into our brains and hearts that we were not only going to be evaluated by the company but we were also supposed to evaluate the company. So as much as we thought it was a privilege to work for PepsiCo, it was a privilege to them too. They cherished this interaction as much as we did. This was a one of a kind feeling that the company ensured sunk into our 26 excited brains. One of a kind feeling which found its way direct into the hearts as soon as we heard it. We then had a hardcore marketing session with the beverages category head, Mr. Vipul Prakash. Whilst he emphasised on performance with a purpose as the main motive behind the company, he also allowed us to interact with him and have a peep into the newest and unreleased commercials of his few very coveted brands which were on a pathway to revolutionizing the consumer behavior. We then had a very fun filled lunch break where we had to introduce ourselves to At least two tables at the cafeteria, I was stumbled to find Mr. Shiva Kumar, CEO PepsiCo sitting there in the normal cafeteria and having his lunch with three other employees. I had to literally confirm with my fellow intern to believe my eyes that a CEO of an MNC and a leading company would be sitting at a normal table in the cafeteria and have his lunch. Yes. It was him. I went up to him and introduced myself and boy, was I truly mesmerized. He was as humble as knowledgeable he was. Post lunch, we had a session with the nutrition category head, Mr. Vineet Sharma, where he explained the nuances of Nutrition brands of PepsiCo and how the company was slowly positioning itself to concentrate of the nutrition wing and strengthening its footholds in the markets. Mr. Shiv, CEO PepsiCo had an hour out of his busy schedule taken out to just address us and make us feel like home. Not only had he spoken to us about various facets of an intern life, he also let us virtually shadow him by talking us through his day and work schedule and life instances. It was a power packed hour and half interaction which ended on a subtle note with high tea with him

We returned to the guest house at around 8 pm to find another networking session planned out with the management trainees on how to deliver our best in the internships and make the most out of the learning we were going to get in the giant of Sales and Marketing FMCG company. Because its people make and break the company cultural bonds and to be a right fit is imperative.

Although it was a very eventful and a knowledge overloaded day for all of us, I personally felt very relaxed that all my anxiety was converted into excitement, and I was looking forward to these two months of my life which will make my bond with PepsiCo stronger and firmer as we go along together, in tandem.

 

Induction Day 2

Tuesday, 4th April 17

Today was an early start to a rather fun day. painting, interview and fun all in a perfect blend. At 7, we went to a government school to paint the walls. We were playfully divided into 4 teams and given a space each to paint the “save water save life” slogans of the PepsiCo campaign. Although we started on a skeptical note of whether we would be able to pull it off, we had created quite a masterpiece and also had team logos tattooed. It was like a ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ morning for all of us. A very innovative and useful way of building up a team of diverse 27 interns and allowing them to break the barriers of various regions, various colleges and help them become a one entity, i.e. of PepsiCo interns. And we had put in our heart and soul into winning that competition. And where we were done, we had the over-the-top feeling when we ate breakfast post and that we had totally earned it. Literally our bread and butter. Somehow, although all body was hurting, it had a satiating effect that we had worked our way through to the breakfast. The latter half of our day was packed with an interview session with all the big names in the company. An introduction session with a lot stored in for us.

Induction Day 3

Wednesday, 5th April 17

The previous day being on a lighter note, we had back to back leadership sessions in the day and we were completely psyched for a power packed day. Whilst we were addressed by the CFO on the nuances of finding a perfect work-life balance, we were also told how intricate sourcing model of PepsiCo works by the supply chain head himself Mr. Nitheen Pradhan. He unfolded how complex and sophisticated details can get to make move and sell a bottle of Pepsi or a tetra pak of Tropicana. He also explained the further goals and a sneak peek into the supply chain based strategies of PepsiCo in the next 5-10 years. Although it was exhilarating to know all of it, the magnanimity of operations was soon dawning upon us followed by the respect towards the company for flawlessly pulling it off. We then were briefed by Mr. Bana the security officer at PepsiCo and he told us to attentively talk to him about any issues that could occur while we are working in any company for that matter. After a sumptuous lunch, we had a briefing by the agro-division head at PepsiCo who was doing all the contract farming sourcing that is required for the Frito-Lays division of the company. All this to facilitate a win-win situation so that the farmers also could have their share of PepsiCo’s profits. Coupled with this session was the corporate communications director who briefed us about the various campaigns that were driving the “performance with purpose” initiative of the company and establishing the water positivity of the company in the minds of the consumers simultaneously. This session, in particular, refurbished our love for the company and elated each one of us to be a part of such a selfless and loving company. Amidst all these knowledge sharing sessions, we also had a fun short treasure hunt which helped us burn all the extra calories we had accumulated with all the amazingly delectable snacks and pastries we were being fed from the past three days. ALL IN ALL, a complete package day for learning and fun. Another day passes by, making us yearn and wait for the next…

Induction Day 4

Thursday, 6th April 17

Although we have been given a disclaimer that it is going to be a tough day ahead, it only hit us when we were neck deep into it. Leadership sessions back to back. Legal and Public Relations heads came and explained on why they play a crucial role in the organisation which dealt in plastic packets and glass bottles. Till that point, one never gets the nitty-gritty involved in the trade and in how many ways things can go wrong in one way for a brand and how it can tarnish the hard work of many individuals working towards the brand.

We were also briefed by Hr.-Sales personnel who was the acting link between the markets and the corporate personnel and had the worst and the best of both worlds. Ms. Bhavya told us how there was always a tough rift between the customer executives and the sales representatives and how it is solved on an everyday basis in the markets. She also threw light on the variation of discounting rates between modern retail and traditional trading points and a balancing act between them.

We were then warmly greeted by the Lays division country head Mr. Dilen. And much to our surprise, an hour long session felt like a joy ride. Filled with jokes and quirky remarks, he never made us feel like we were talking to a person that higher up in the organisation of such multi-million dollar brands. His session obviously deserved an applause and was totally worth the one hour delay we had on our lunch break.

We then had our projects given out by our HR Campus talent acquisition lead for India. I was posted in Hyderabad. Although I did not fully understand what my project one-liner meant, I was excited about working in my birth city. I was going to not only work to deliver my best but I would also leverage the language advantage I have got.

We then had an address by the Head HR of PepsiCo India. She was very terse and crisp about what the company worked like and what she expected us to have out of our two-month stints. She taught us how to be ourselves and make the most out of our stay at PepsiCo.

There was a corporate dinner wherein all our mentors were introduced and we had to interact with them one a tier 1 level. Since my project was based out Hyderabad my mentors were also in Hyderabad. But I got to have a face to face hour and a half discussion about marketing and sales stints of a decade-long which Mr. Rajrishi had in the various locations of the country. It was a very valuable discussion on the lines of sales and distribution which gave me a basic platform as to what can be done and what is going on in the region upon which I was going to work. A pPlethora of information filled, we returned to the guest house with a content heart and a smile on our faces.

Induction Day 5

Friday, 7th April 17

Today was a market visit to one of the distributors of PepsiCo in the segment of premium products, i.e. Tropicana Quaker oats and Himalayan water. Incidentally, this was also the day which had the area sales manager coming and having a meeting with all the sales representatives and fixing up a realistic target to achieve. Although we had a glimpse, only a 3-hour walk in the streets of Chirag Delhi and a 6km long stroll alongside the salesperson to visit the 30 retail shops made me realise that a sales job is way beyond a flowery talk and a fancy utilisation of a phone software. It is more about being able to take those Nos and bear those shooing away that every salesman gets in between of an order that the retail shop places. It is about being able to judge how much a person can stretch his limits and where he needs to stop. And to be able to gauge the capacity of the person talking and optimising it to the max.

Although a lot of it was absorbed, it really becomes a tough job to express it through and say how much I have learnt in the day.

Induction Day 6

Saturday, 8th April 17

A visit to one of the Varun Beverages automated bottling plant was today’s agenda. Although a plain vanilla agenda, we had a lot of fun in the 4 hours’ journey that we had to make in the bus, which included dumb charades, sumptuous snacks and a great visit to the fully automated plant. A tiring day yet a day full of fun frolic and lessons to learn.

The whole of the induction week was a very innovative and a fun filled way of wedging us into the tough corporate world filled with challenges and problems that are going to look us in the eye. A perfect start to what might be a very rough patch to pass. But hey! At least we will face it with all the might we have! We will scream right at it with our valour. Scream until we get it done our way. We get it done the PepsiCo way!

On the Whole: 

My internship, 7 weeks further on was filled with so much and more fun, constant deadlines, rush against time to finish my set targets, to exceed expectations set on me by my mentor, guide and PepsiCo itself! I had various 8-12 hour days, yet, never felt tired or exhausted, simply because, I enjoyed my work throughout. The customer meetings which wanted me to travel throughout Hyderabad extensively, taught me various nuances of the trade and helped me mend my ways to get a perfect sale. Working with a team of 4, I felt more like an employee and more than an employee, more responsibilities were entrusted to me. At first, I was scared of disappointing the expectations but I did finally manage to get a green flag from my dream company and I am so glad I have put in those extra efforts.

PepsiCo is one place which values their summer interns not only because it values its talent but also understands that what goes around, comes around. A company embedded with values, love, fun and challenges all along the work day, PepsiCo proves to be an employee’s haven.

 

PRANATHI AMULA

Pranathi Amula, IIM Kozhikode

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