Here is an anecdote of my internship journey into the vibrant world of fabrics at Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail, erstwhile known as Madura Fashion. Many wouldn’t know but the group owns a powerhouse of brands including Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Forever 21, Peter England, and Pantaloons to name a few. I joined the organization as a Marketing and Sales intern.
The selection consisted of a 3 step process including a CV shortlist, Case Discussion, and Personal Interview. After making the cut in the CV round, we were called for 2 rounds of case discussion. I examined the case with a holistic approach, took into account all possible scenarios, and stated assumptions wherever necessary. After having laid the structure to the case, I suggested short term and long term approaches, evaluated alternatives, and even suggested a contingency plan.
The Personal Interview round was a mix of HR, role-related, and general questions. This is where the marketing concepts I learned in the first term came into handy. I took the time to understand the questions, thought out loud, and walked the interviewers through my thought process while attempting to answer. What worked for me was that I carried myself with confidence and maintained my calm even when I didn’t know the answer. If you get stuck, communicate clearly, ask the interviewers a minute to think and summarize your thoughts, and then proceed with a smile.
Amidst the unprecedented times with the outbreak of the pandemic, there were several inhibitions in my mind on how the internship will pan out. The Talent Acquisition team at ABFRL restructured the entire process to help us navigate through the remote internship which rekindled our spirits.
Everyone was trying to adapt themselves to the new ecology which was Microsoft Teams. The virtual induction had us interacting with various team leaders who walked us through the organization, their values, and an understanding of the Retail Business at Madura (trade models, operations, supply chain, brand experience, customer-centricity, etc.)
My project entailed identifying markets for further expansion in tier 3 and 4 towns, research on consumer trends and focus segments, gathering market intelligence to prepare a business case for proposed areas, and proposing store opening plans for one of the brands of Madura Fashion.
The scope of my project included diverse deliverables since it involved a mix of Primary and Secondary Research, Town Mapping using geographical intelligence systems, identifying the Sales Potential, and devising a Mathematical Model to take the decision whether a store should be opened in a marketplace or not.
The first month of my internship had me meeting with my mentor who provided me with an in-depth understanding of my project, framing research methodologies, and setting goals to accomplish the project deliverables.
A major part of the project consisted of gauging market potential in these towns, which turned out to be challenging at first since I was not allowed to visit these towns. To gather this information, I relied heavily on Google Maps and geographical aggregator systems such as MOI, CMIE Report, etc. which helped me identify the established property indicators such as the number of colleges, banks, restaurants, gym, and other retail outlets etc., in each of the proposed towns.
I was also required to interact with business professionals, a specific set of consumers, and external stakeholders to gather insights on consumer evolution, employment opportunities, asset ownership, and other special economic activities in the town. These interactions were an eye-opener for me, since I was talking to a specific set of consumers whose lifestyle was dramatically opposite from mine from which I made some really interesting observations. It was insightful to see how much information I could gather just from interviewing people.
Additionally, I also worked on Customer Acquisition for an existing store and suggested channels for marketing plans keeping the current scenario in mind. I immersed myself in this experience and even worked as a Customer Care Associate for one day where I was tele-calling consumers to tell them about the latest offers at the store. Based on my interaction, I prepared a script that could be used by the employees at the store during their targeting activities.
At ABFRL, I felt like an employee, whose opinions were equally heard and valued. My mentor helped in nurturing my ideas before putting them into action. The regular feedback provided by him helped me strategically align my project as per the organization's expectations and enhanced my understanding of the Retail Operations. Being given freedom on the project made me feel more responsible and stay committed at work.
These two months were an unparalleled experience and I witnessed how throughout these two months Aditya Birla Group proved itself to be an organization with a winning culture which instilled in me the attitude of ‘Aaj kya karna hai’ instead of ‘Ab kya hoga’.
Here are the top 3 things which worked for me:
- Planning: Since my project consisted of diverse deliverables, I divided my project charter into daily accomplishable tasks which helped me stay committed.
- Constructive and timely feedback: Knowing when to ask for help and guidance has been a key success parameter during this internship. The guidance from my mentor was pivotal in helping me identify the crux of the business objective and consistently improving my outputs.
- Learning Agility: If anything at all, this period taught me that one needs to be quick on their feet in terms of adapting to change. The project required me to come up with a mathematical model, which needed to be coded on Excel using the software language. I took up the challenge and did a short-term course on VBA coding, picking up things on the go and successfully implemented it.