I am a second-year MBA student at IIM Bangalore (IIMB) and spent my last two months interning at Aditya Birla Group (ABG). A year back when I decided to pursue an MBA, I definitely wasn’t thinking of getting into General Management (Gen-Man). Below is a brief on what made me choose Gen-Man and my internship experience at ABG.
Road to the Interview Room
I joined IIM Bangalore, with work experience of one year in an outdoor marketing startup, with the conviction that Marketing is the field I would enjoy the most & would want to make a career in. At IIMB, I was introduced to the field of Gen-Man. The thought that most intrigued me about Gen-Man was that my role would not be limited to a single domain. Instead, I would get to experience multiple industries & fields. It would always keep me on my toes and never let me get too comfortable in my zone.
After an evaluation of my aspirations, it made more sense to me to be a bit flexible with my career plan and take this internship as an experiment into the unknown. Another motivator was the fact that I could still pursue marketing in the future, even in a Gen-Man role. Thus, I decided I would look for both Marketing & Gen-Man opportunities and decide basis the options in hand.
My preparation for summer interviews involved preparing cases (which you must do, no matter your field of interest), marketing concepts, and an active watch on the marketing strategies of companies. There was also a special focus on self-evaluation questions, which are common in Gen-Man interviews. Other than that, I started reading news profusely to be aware of all the latest happenings, which would help me in my Group Discussions (GDs).
After the GD round, I had interview calls from one of the best marketing companies and also from ABG. The unique thing about the offer from ABG is that, if you happen to join ABG full-time, you are prepared for a leadership role. The program is designed as such that after joining full-time, you get to work in 3 different companies of ABG in 3 different roles over one year. It allows you to get varied experience & to learn about various industries. After a year, one gets to join one of the ABG companies & role basis one’s interest & company’s evaluation. Hence, I decided to go for the ABG interview.
A. Clarity of thought; B. Confidence in voice. With these two in place, clearing any GD would be a cakewalk.
To my utter surprise, the interview started with questions from Class 12 Physics (I am an engineer by graduation), which I had forgotten entirely. After trying to give some answers out of my hazy memory, I politely accepted that I did not know. Probably then, started the real interview. Questions revolved around my career plans, what I knew about the company, ABG values - my values, and how I saw myself fitting into the company. The latter part of the interview went reasonably well & soon, I had the confirmation letter in hand.
A. Do read up well about the company before entering the interview room.
B. If you appear for the ABG interview, don’t forget to read up about the ABG values. ABG places their values in high stead.
C. If you don’t know anything, it’s okay to accept.
The Most Awaited Show
To the whole of MBA batch 2021’s sheer dismay, internships happened virtually amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last days of March, with one mail on my phone, my dreams of going to Mumbai for the upcoming two months & experiencing the corporate life in its full glory suddenly transformed into me doing an internship out of my room. While the task seemed mighty, mightier was the conviction not to let it impact my internship.
The project assigned to me was in the Digital & Tech domain in Pantaloons. Pantaloons is one of the biggest apparel retailer in India and is a part of the Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail (ABFRL). My project was on the launch of an Omnichannel model for Pantaloons. Though Pantaloons has a robust network of offline stores PAN India, its e-commerce business is in the growth phase & with the onset of Covid-19, it became critical to create a strong online-offline integrated business. My role was to manage the end-to-end development & deployment of the Omnichannel model. The project involved me working with several stakeholders and understanding their requirements. Additionally, I had to act as a bridge between the business & tech teams.
My Team :P
The project offered me immense learning in terms of intricacies of the e-com business and valuable experience of complete virtual management of teams. I also learnt how to manage a live project in total uncertainty. With the continually changing government guidelines impacting the model implementation, there was an immense need to be agile with the processes. Most importantly, there was a sense of ownership provided to me by my manager & hence I felt comfortable while tackling issues & while working with the teams. Also, since I was working from home, I had more time on my hand & thus, I was able to take up some of my interests, such as working on the design of the Pantaloons website.
One of the biggest misses of a virtual mode was connection & collaboration with fellow interns. Though we did connect virtually, it couldn’t cover up for not being able to meet 41 co-interns. Another of the miss was not being able to know about the ongoing projects in the company. While I got to know about some of the projects, because of my discussions with my manager, however, in a regular setting, I could have easily walked up to any desk, had conversations with employees, understood their work & talked about mine, and taken their inputs on it. Most of all, virtual interaction limited my learnings from the rich 6-year experience of my manager at ABG.
An Intern’s Review
ABG offered me the best possible virtual internship experience starting with the day of orientation to the day of my final presentation. The program, as promised, offered me multiple opportunities to develop as a leader. The project assigned to me gave me a sense of responsibility like a full-time employee. Along with it, I had freedom given to me by my manager to pursue different solutions to roadblocks I faced in the two months of my internship. As a part of the personal development of interns, various sessions were organized on multitudes of topics with top-notch leaders from within & as well as outside the company. We were also given access to virtual courses to help us understand the basics before we headed towards solution formation. The HR team at ABG worked relentlessly to ensure that we did not miss out on anything (fun parts included) just because we were working virtually & organized several competitions and meets so that we could connect with co-interns.
After the end of 2 months, I stand with a wholesome experience of an internship where I learnt a lot from my manager and team members even though I couldn’t meet them. I also made strong bonds with some co-interns. Most of all, I learnt the value of my family & friends. Though the lockdown was stressful for everyone, they stood with me during the times when I was stressed about work or about the future. I am deeply thankful to everyone who helped me stay strong and learn as well as perform my best at my internship.