Sahil Puri’s Quest For Perfection At Nestle – An Internship Experience
The summer internship is one of the most important phases if not the most important phase of MBA life. For some, it is the first ever venture into the corporate world, for some, it is their first venture into a domain that they aren’t sure of and these are just some of the expectations that people have from their internships. Whatever be one’s expectation, one thing is for sure, everyone wants to put their best foot forward, with the best of their smiles. I too planned to do the same but with the fate had other plans for me.
I was the happiest kid on the Earth post getting an internship in Nestle. I found my calling in marketing at the age of 19 and from then, the more I dwelled into marketing, the more I fell in love with it. For a chap like me, Nestle totally made sense, considering the long history of brilliant communication that Nestle has been coming up with, the sheer size of the company globally and with how every country has a different view towards business in the very same domain of food and beverage. So, prior to the internship, I got one week off from the institute and I used that to read up as much I could about not just the India operations, but also the way Nestle was working globally. This is one thing that I strongly recommend for every intern serious about his or her internship. This way you just don’t understand how historically the company has been operating, but also what vision does the management has for the coming future, this helps an intern align his or her expectations with that of the company.
Now, it doesn’t matter how big the brand you are working for, it doesn’t matter what the revenue of the company is, after all, every company is made of people, and based on the collective effort, the company either goes up or comes down. For me, every person that I met at Nestle, gave me more time than what an intern usually gets. Everyone around was helpful, everyone around was interested in what I was doing and helped me connect with those who could give me a better view of how I should be carrying my project further. I genuinely consider myself to be lucky to get the mentor that I got. He helped me a lot, and when I say that, I mean it too. He discussed the pros and cons of all the approaches that I could think of, or he could think of. He was one of those who never took it to his heart when I came up with something different from what he said. If I could logically convince him of something, he would accept it, and this worked both ways. He also never treated me like an intern, but always as an employee, with due attention being paid to what I have to say or what I was thinking. Despite being busy as he used to be, I can say with confidence that I used to get at least half an hour of face time with him daily, and this itself speaks volumes of how the work culture and work ethics of the company were. And I don’t say it for the sake of saying it, every employee I worked with was of the similar nature.
My project was in the sales department and dealt with finding the size of the prize for every category and every brand under Nestle for 53 towns. Now, the sheer size and the scale of the project was overwhelming at first, but I took it as a challenge to do it and to do it well. The whole of the two months was spent with me trying different approaches, different ways of doing the calculations, doing something, then undoing it, and then again redoing the whole thing again. This is how, after umpteen number of iterations and approaches later did I manage to reach the approach that I finally presented. The whole of my internship was filled with highs and lows wherein on some days I was sure of me going on the right track and then on some days, I feel that whatever I did was of no use since I managed to come up with a better way of doing the task at hand. The key for me was to just keep on going. You can either stop, and see the soup you are in and then give up, or take it on yourself to correct yourself and still manage to meet the deadlines. All of this equated to my spending on average of 12 hours in the office, but I kid you not, I enjoyed every minute of it. The sheer insights that I got of how consumers behave across India for a particular category are genuinely amazing now that I look back at it.
During this internship, I had sworn to be at my best no matter what. Since the project I got was so interesting and I could see as to how my project and my submissions would fit into the company’s quest of being the best, I hopped on to the journey that Nestle was on. I was thinking of my project day in and day out, with just one agenda on my head, how can I do my project in the best possible manner. With the sheer amount of thought and time that I gave to it, I managed to complete the project deliverable in one month itself. Post which, I started dwelling into exercises of how my project can be complemented further, for which, I started doing calculations that dwelled deeper into how Nestle could capture the opportunity for every category and every brand. Post doing that too, I didn’t settle down or got comfortable, I then dwelled into how this opportunity capturing process can be monitored, for which I came up with two dashboards which will be used from Area sales manager and from them will flow to the top officials in the headquarters.
This internship stint made me realise that there is no end to the road of perfection, you can go on and on and still never reach the stage where you can claim to be at the best. But the sheer hunger for it, the sheer dedication for achieving it, can make people do things that even they did not know they were capable of doing. I pushed myself physically, I pushed myself mentally, I was battling a lung infection during the first month of internship, and borderline depression the other. Still, despite all the things that could bring me down, the sheer hunger for being at your professional best made me forget all the things that were wrong or could go wrong and made me focus on achieving the very best that I could during the two months at a company as coveted as Nestle.
When you fixate and being at your best, only good things come out, I managed to learn so much about consumer behaviour, about brand performance measurement, about company operations and what not. My highlight of my time at internship was those 10 minutes post my final presentation, because during those 10 minutes, I felt like whatever I went through during the two months, whatever hours I put in the project and the sheer amount of sweat and blood that went into the project, all of it was worth it. Post my internship, I was recommended for a PPI by the sales head at Nestle. Sadly, the HR doesn’t have the policy of hiring referral interns, but despite that bummer, I can say without any doubt, that these two months at Nestle were nothing short of being stellar. And I can proudly say, that despite the sheer number of odds, I managed to be at my best and deliver to the best of my abilities and capabilities. For me, just that is not short of a win.