PROLOGUE (THE FLASHBACK) - Being a doctor by profession and being the only doctor in an MBA batch of 300 comes with its own set of perks and challenges. And that’s why I think I was especially excited when Philips Healthcare came to our campus for its pre-placement talk. I had consistently worked with Philips machines in the past and I believe that your conviction in selling or marketing a product increases multifold if you yourself have faith in the product. I was shortlisted for the GD round and after clearing it, moved on to the interview which was both detailed and insightful. Having been in the shoes of the client before, helped me draw inferences and insights into what factors carry most weightage when marketing to different segments of clients. When the result came of my selection, I was overjoyed and on receiving the Pre-Placement Offer from Philips after the summer internship completion, my happiness has come a full circle.
CHAPTER 1 - THE WELCOME (RED CARPET) - The proceedings of our summer internship kicked off with a bang on 2nd April 2018. There were around 12 of us from all the top b-schools of the country. We bonded instantly and soon became a well-knit group who relied on each other consistently during our 2 month period. It is very reassuring to have people who are going through the same experiences as you and can understand your outlook. Our time together was filled with laughter, inside jokes, a lot of teasing and steadfast support for each other. We were welcomed by the orientation team with a lot of fan-fare which was followed by a thrilling treasure-hunt around the office and sessions by the business heads. We were given our projects and I was placed in the Patient Monitoring Vertical. I was stationed ironically at Kolkata, a city I had never been to before (inspite of my Bengali surname!!) and was excited to explore my roots and a new city.
CHAPTER 2 - THE GODFATHERS (MY MENTOR & GUIDE) - Before embarking on this summer internship journey I had heard stories from some of my seniors about how it was difficult to get time from the senior business leaders and how sometimes their projects had gotten stuck due to lack of communication. But my experience in this regard was completely different. I was very lucky to get a mentor who was always accessible to guide me and solve my queries and always responded when I needed help. He was based in Chennai and immediately gave me time so that I could get a very clear understanding of what the project was and what was expected out of me during those 2 months. I credit his clarity and guidance for the clear direction and the productive results that my project ultimately resulted in. My project involved a lot of data analytics (yes!! We doctors can do that too!) and I am grateful to my mentor for helping me understand the crux of the problem and start working towards the solutions.
My Guide was based in Kolkata and I was fortunate to work closely with him for my 2-month stint. He is someone I have grown to respect and look up to not only as a guide but also as a human being. His patience, work-ethic, optimism, humility, and sense of humour are something that I hope to inculcate in my professional life as well. However stressed out I was, or tired after multiple field visits, he always greeted me with a big smile and encouraged me to approach the problem from a fresh perspective. I am grateful to him for never spoon feeding me so that I could develop my own strategy for solutions.
CHAPTER 3 - KOLKATA (THE CITY OF JOY) - My experiences of working at the Philips Kolkata office are something that I will always cherish. The people welcomed me with open arms and soon I was given the affectionate nickname of ‘Doctor’. Any Sales and Marketing intern will tell you- the majority of their project workload depends upon the collaborations they do with other colleagues in the office and the data that they receive from them. I got stupendous support from each and every member of the Philips Kolkata office. Day or night, they were always ready to help me. A lot of my fieldwork revolved in or around Kolkata which also gave me the opportunity to see the city in a whole new light. I was enamoured by its vibrancy, its colour, its intensity, its spirituality, its pace, and its pulsating culture. It seemed to revolve around a rhythm of its own and soon I fell in love with this rhythm too.
CHAPTER 4 - FIELDWORK (GULLIVERS TRAVELS) - My project involved working with the channel partners of Philips and this led me to travel across the entire country meeting the channel partners and understanding the business from their perspective. Many times I was fortunate enough to travel with the sales team and the other times on my own. The business insights that I got from them went a long way in shaping my project and understanding the finer nuances of the business. Travelling across 11 cities and covering all the 4 business zones gave me a deeper understanding of the business and my interactions with the sales team and channel partners helped me come up with practical and actionable solutions. Travel was the best part of my entire summer experience and some of my favourite cities were - Ambala, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Gurgaon, Chennai and Hyderabad. A tip for future interns- always carry sunscreen and make sure you know a few words of the local language before foraying into the urban jungles. Or you would be forced to gesticulate like a crazy person and use google translate like I did in an effort to communicate with my uber driver in Chennai.
CHAPTER 5 - THE PILOT RUNS (TRIAL BY COMBAT) - post the encouragement and feedback that I had received during the mid-review, I started working on the Pilot projects that I had recommended to produce tangible results. With the constant support of my mentor and guide, I was able to run 3 successful Pilots which gave weight and credibility to my solutions. I would like to thank the entire Philips Kolkata team for providing me with all the support that I needed in this regard. Whether it was the passing of the budget or getting the necessary requisitions, I received help every step of the way.
CHAPTER 6 - FINAL REVIEW+ THE CEO ROUND (THE GRAND FINALE) -The day of the final review dawned and I remember waking up with butterflies in my stomach. I remember checking and rechecking my ppt several times to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. I was the last intern to present and was immediately put at ease by the judging panel. I was able to answer the questions put to me and the next thing I knew, the session was ending. We waited with bated breaths for the results and I was overjoyed to find out that I had been selected for the CEO round and would get to present my project in front of the Philips CEO. I started working hard to sharpen my presentation and summarize my project more crisply. During the CEO round I was very impressed by the depth of the questions I was asked by the CEO and the judging panel and by how they encouraged us to look at our projects and the business from a broader perspective.
CHAPTER 7 - MY TAKEAWAYS (LESSONS LEARNED) - My 2 months here at Philips have been a memorable experience filled with learnings, business insights, life lessons and a deeper understanding of how the corporate world functions. I learnt how important it is to collaborate with others and how to break down a bigger problem into smaller actionable units and provide practical solutions. I leant to deliver within a set timeline and to have clarity about the project and the expected outcomes. But the most important takeaway that I am taking along with me is the importance of persistence and respect. No matter how big or difficult the problem seems, if you continue to work at it strategically, you are bound to make tangible progress. Same goes for respect. If you treat your co-workers with honesty and respect, you will receive all the help that you require and make genuine bonds that will stand the test of time. I am very grateful to all the people at Philips for making my time with them memorable and will always cherish the bonds I made here.
CHAPTER 8 - ADVICE FOR JUNIORS (SOME GYAAN) - Before your internship, everyone will advice you to network incessantly in your new organisation. But my advice would be to rather form genuine connections with the people you come in contact with and ‘LISTEN’. You would be surprised by how much you get to learn if you genuinely listen to the people around you. Treat everyone with respect and focus on building honest relationships and you will be embraced by your co-workers as one of their own. And the most important advice - always be up for learning new skills. If a doctor with general practice experience can learn and deliver on data analytics, then you, my friend, can achieve anything you set your mind to!