Summer Internship at Pentair Gulf Valve FZE: A Sales Saga (well, sort of)

This is an experience of a recently-finished first year student of IIM Indore PGP UAE batch of 2015.

It was with much relief that I stepped foot inside the sales office of Pentair Gulf Valve FZE in Sharjah, UAE, some 55km from my place of stay in Dubai. Relieved that the air conditioning was set to 295K (the engineering background never does go away!). I had arrived to start my summer (and I mean summer) program as a sales and marketing intern. I met my manager, we discussed among other things his brief sojourn at IIM Ahmedabad for an executive course. Finally, we got to some intern business – what exactly I needed to do during my brief 3 month spell at Gulf Valve.

Pentair is an international conglomerate which specializes in water solutions. Gulf Valve is the primary producer of valves in the Middle East and is a fully owned subsidiary of Pentair. They mainly cater to the oil and gas, power and process industries. In addition, they are the only company with an accompanying manufacturing facility. So, the sales department is essentially selling in-house valves.

Back to business, my role involved 3 independent tasks –

1) To prepare Pre-Qualification documents for 2 major clients in the oil industry

2) To analyze 4 years worth of sales data and advise Gulf Valve as to which clients to continue doing business with

3) To analyze lost orders and prepare questionnaires to put out to their clients to better serve their interests

My initial feeling was that that I was getting in way over my head. Until I surveyed the environment around me. Most of the folks at Pentair are either Malayali or Tamilian and the top management was European. Being a Tamilian myself (born in Tamil Nadu, raised in Karnataka and a fan of Kerala), I felt right at home. The first task involved getting to know the entire valve manufacturing process in the plant, easier said than done.  The European bosses were extremely nice if you talked to them about football (this being the World cup year and all), and you supported a European team (I’m a Germany fan myself). You are expected to know a lot of technical details, which wasn’t that much of a problem for me because of my background as a Mechanical Engineering major. The second and third tasks involved nothing but Microsoft Excel. But here’s where the knowledge gained in the Excel workshop at IIM Indore worked like a charm. The pivot table was literally my best friend.  At the end of the day, I got the job done and the results were impressive, even to me.

A word of advise to future sales & marketing interns – data collection may seem like an extremely trivial chore but it is the single most important thing of all and the slightest mistake might have you looking for a needle in a haystack. The focus should always be on getting it right the first time. Lord knows I learned the hard way!

All in all, it has been a very satisfying experience thus far and I say thus far because I still have a few days left. I’ve made plenty of friends (most of them, albeit, in no small part due to the World Cup but who am I to judge). I look forward to finishing up and embarking on the second stage of the IIM journey. Good luck to all IIM aspirants. Auf Wiedersehen!

Santhanam Balaji

Santhanam Balaji is an alumnus of IIM Indore UAE Campus. He is never far away from trouble. He is also a big sports (esp. tennis) enthusiast and is happy that Fred Perry's ghost has been exorcised.