Summer Spent As The Marketer In The Retail Giant
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
It all started from August 24th, 2016.
One of the most substantial phases of any student’s Business-school life is the time where he endeavours exceedingly and at times still, faces it hard to impress the set of recruiters for the SIP’s (Summer Internship Program). After all the years of dedication, hard work and money spent on education it legitimately mandates a return. It would have been fun, closely observing every student’s rituals and beliefs change right before the placements and according to the company. Admitted! I was no exception in the bunch. I had my own set of rituals to follow, façade to portray those that had changed as I strained through all the CV reviews, Placement talks and Networking attempts, all that kudos to the hard work of the Placement Team.
The material task commenced after this. For someone like me, the fresher soul having nil corporate experience and an Undergraduate degree from an Institute which was Technological Institute but not the Indian in front of its name (IIT’s) the path becomes hard-hitting now. Marketing appeared fascinating with its magnificent combination of creativity and imagination, strategies and of course, the kind of magnetism of profiles involved to the field. While most of the batch echoed the profusion of pride after their Consulting shortlists, I was a satisfied person when few of the Marketing Profiles Company finally ‘shortlisting’ my CV for the next round.
It was only the time when Aditya Birla Retail Ltd., the leading organised Retail Giant of the country finally offered me an Internship after the compound rounds of interviews I realised what I would be getting into. The Pre-Placement talk resonated in my mind as the world of Marketing in Organised Retail (in India) is scandalously famous for long working hours, overstretched sales targets and improper work life balance.
I reiterated to myself no, I didn’t mind any of them. It would be an exciting experience, I hoped! The kind of experience and work you look back and feel content, and just appropriately fortunate to have gone through it.
A ship in harbour is safe— but that is not what ships are built for.”
— John A. Shedd
A week after I had finished spending the first year of the course in the comforting lap of SIMSR, I found myself in the new yet alienated place in the Southern part of the Country “Bengaluru” in the conference room of a Hypermarket having an area of more than 85000sq.ft. Usually, the first few moments at a new place with new faces around are always more hesitant than they are exciting. There was no scope for such moments here as the orientation program kicked off with the general introduction to the Industry and the Business along with the floor walk introducing me with various Division Heads.
One of the very first things that my mentor told me and the significance of which I realised during the course of my Internship was this:
“Marketing is an Enthusiasm Transferred to the Customer”
While I felt proud to have been tagged as a Marketing Summer Intern in Aditya Birla Group, the first few things that I did as a part of my job hardly involved any Marketing or the Strategy. The work was full of tiring floor work in the Departments of hypermarket to understand the nitty-gritty of business & collecting Data from the company database and compiling & comprehending them in an Excel sheet, presenting a story out of them through a PowerPoint, and finally running it through the Division Heads and Associates who were more or less doing the same, although at a sharper bound. The hours were manageable; a reason why Aditya Birla values are appreciated for its work-life balance. A lot more was there for me, it was only when I would know the true significance of the apparently unexciting work that I was doing that I would start gaining it better.
Initially, I was working with a big team of people looking after two projects; the first one from Operations Network part To Reduce the Merchandise Damages in Hypermarket and Second on the Digital Marketing of the Hypermarket Chains. While I was still finding out the crux of my work and spending time on the Projects I was assigned to, the team got a mandate to achieve the target of damage reduction in one month and to come up with the Initial Digital Marketing Plan within a month. There are these little moments that define your entire experience and this was one such occasion. The Manager examined my Interest and the past work and articulated me to take the lead for the Digital Marketing Project along without conceding the work on the second project concurrently. The excitement and the fun begin now. Not many things are more stimulating than being a part of a small dedicated team working on a project and I consider myself extremely fortunate for being at the right place at the right time. The usual floor work, Excel and PowerPoint work still remained, but it all started making more sense now. Work hours got stretched and yet that was agreeable.
“Love what you do and you will never work another day in your life”
As one of the key deliverables initially, my task was to Plan the Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy and Target Group and reduce the Damage Quantifiable. The deliverable got extended, and the task now got more challenging and fascinating. The next phase was to present on the Need of Digital Marketing Campaign in Retail and the Campaign Idea at the Digital Conclave at IIM-Bangalore. All of a sudden, I got exposed to the set of things that the Marketing Head of the Company himself was an in charge of. Every day was a challenge, and I would literally put my figures crossed before every week analysis of work and the Damage value.
This is where the realisation came. How it is all so easy creating a Marketing plan in class and working in an excel sheet and making a balance sheet of the company, but a challenge of altogether a different level to talk your plans with these sales & profit numbers with a fluency that emanates confidence and business acumen to someone who knows all that is to know about the industry.
Irrespective of what others say, to me this fluency which comes through sheer practice and knowledge and this is what makes a Marketer stand in the assortment of business. Marketing, after all, is not all about numbers. It is much evolved in the current businesses (emotions & values) rather than being a simple work of Sales Figures.
As it turned out, the experience at ABRL was a holistic one. The work eventually involved making and executing action plans to reduce Merchandise Damage and working on the excel and presenting Impactful PPTs, talking to some of the Top Management People of a number of Public and Private Companies, and of course the usual Data mining. The work hours were pretty manageable once the work started becoming meaningful. Working on Sundays has never stifled my spirits. The greatest strength of any company, come from the kind of work culture they cultivate on the ground zero level. I can certainly say that people at ABRL, irrespective of their positions, treated each other and the interns with a sense of respect.
It was the first time that I had a corporate experience. And it was also the first time that I got a pay cheque on my name. Tell you what, that feeling is illusory!
I’ll end this with the Quote based on Mahabharata,
Whether there be success or failure, there should be no despair, for success in acts depends upon the union; of many circumstances.