The Internship to ‘Bank’ Upon – Summer Saga at HSBC

The story begins on one fine day, at 6:30 in the morning I receive a mail saying ‘You have been selected to the final round of Summer Internship selection process. Please report at 9:00 AM SHARP!’ It usually takes just 30 minutes to reach college from my place, but those who stay in Mumbai or have committed a crime of coming here during heavy rains can understand   that it’s not just 30 but you should preferably avoid looking at your watch and pray to the almighty to reach there in time. My case too was not different.

After some arguments and using 4Ps (Please, Please, Please and Please) to the auto rickshaw driver, I finally made it before 9:00. The day began, the process began and by the end of it my journey began with the bank. The HSBC!

The journey began with the induction of all the selected interns at The Oberoi, Mumbai (with Queen’s necklace in front of you and King size dreams to the back of your mind; the place is indeed a chosen one). The day began with the training and introduction of the HSBC culture and values followed by the interaction with the India Head of the division. The induction becomes even more special if it is your birthday and people celebrating the same are as big as HR heads, India Head of my division, sitting for lunch and having informal discussion with you! And while you are on your way back, you see Jonty Rhodes (Yes, it was IPL April and entire Mumbai Indians Team was staying at Oberoi) and shake hands with him!!!

Day one of my internship again came as a pleasant surprise when my project guide (Who is SVP at the bank) was waiting to greet me in the lobby. Within next 30 minutes he helped me to relax  ( I confess that I don’t have any work-ex and I was scared by the shiny corporate bay and serious faced honchos working there). He introduced me to each and every member on the bay, when I realized the people were amazing and lively, bubbling with energy and ready to help an Intern like me whenever I needed them no matter their designation in the bank. Call it generous, call it down to earth or call it talented, yes they are!

(This view is taken from the window next to my desk on the 25th floor)

My project was ‘Business Development through market scoping of sectors and finding lending opportunity for the Bank.’

With presence of SME is considerable in Mumbai, my objective was to scope these businesses sector wise, and to recommend a sector or companies that can be targeted for lending opportunity. The scoping involves both in terms of new client acquisition for first time financing or shifting the existing banking setup of the client to the HSBC. So the project  was a mixed bag of finance and sales for me. Sounds interestingJ

The HSBC also nurtures buddy culture (My buddy was a VP at the bank) who will not only guide you about how to go ahead with the project development but actually channelizes your efforts to achieve the optimum. And yes, sometimes takes you to the lunch as well! The first week went in training and making me familiar with the environment. My guide and buddy meanwhile where briefing me about the scope of the project and the expected deliverables during small breaks and short sessions over breakfast and evening snacks.

My objective was to find and shortlist a few companies from the sectors allotted to me wherein we had opportunity for business development through lending. Though I had collected data from secondary research, I wanted some ‘Aur Dikhao’ from my side. I talked to a few industry experts and Industry associations from all over Mumbai to get some more and reliable data. The next phase was financial analysis of these companies. HSBC being a global organization has a framework for its business operations. Which makes the process standardized but the product localized. I had to do analysis based on these parameters prescribed by the bank to further shortlist the companies. It might sound easy here, but for me it felt like an amateur keeping a goalpost against penalty kick of Lionel Messi. How can he do it?? But came to the rescue were my guide, buddy and every single person on the bay. No one made me feel like ‘Itna Bhi Nahi Aata??’ Frankly sometimes it wondered me how a person can be so cool minded while explaining a concept (notably more than once).

I gave first 3 weeks for the analysis and short listing the companies. By the time I was quite gelled   with the culture now and had a very good time in the office. I strongly feel that the open door policy that I experienced helped me a lot in real sense to learn at any time from anyone     (literally). I never expected that I could talk to the trade expert at the bank just to know what an LC is and how it LCBD works or the forex expert about how hedging works and which are the options in the forex trade. The place becomes even more conducive and boosts your productivity when an SVP, regional head and India Head sits in your bay, and you can go directly to anyone of them to talk and get guidance. These 3 weeks were not just learning in terms of products and technicalities of the bank but an opportunity to see how a person at ‘that’ level works, how he talks to other people, his attitude.  It won’t be incorrect to call it complementary course of personality development and soft skills inculcation.

The next 3-4 weeks were hectic and grueling. This time I felt the taste of reality. Cold calls, walk ins and meetings began and began a real learning. I was directly meeting to the directors and the top decision makers from the companies. It was thrilling to meet them and talk to but burdensome at the same time not to make any mistake that would affect adversely to the bank. I met highly educated people from IIMs to the 7Th grade drop out. Both were handling the businesses equally well and weren’t they successful? Indeed business acumen is a passion and not just a   degree! HSBC being a global organization with brand recognition, people were ready to listen to me. But there were some instances where I could not decide whether to laugh or cry, see this conversation

Me: Hi sir I am calling from HSBC

He: from where??

Me: Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.. HSBC.

He: H–C hoga(He is referring to the Indian Bank having similar nomenclature)

Me: No sir, its HSBC.

He: Aisa bhi koi bank hai?

Me: Yes sir. We are in 84 countries and present in 29 cities of India

He: Jakar apne boss se pooch, H–C hi hoga

Me: Sir I work here. Why would I lie?

He: Disconnects

Such experiences were intriguing sometimes, but these actually helped to hone my skills up of talking to any random person. I must say that today I have gained enough confidence to talk to a person, initiate the communication and break the ice to have a decent discussion.

What I learnt??

Business is not cold, hard or mechanical; it’s a passion and inner drive to make something new.

No matter what your intended specialization is; every single specialization has its links connected to every other (in my case it was Finance and Sales). And rather than single specialization this mixed bag is more interesting. The more you learn the more you realize that how less you know.

An effective deal is locked when one is connected to the other. And by connection I do not mean email or social network. Digitization can hasten the communication but cannot strike the cord of emotions. Personal talk can make wonders.

I must say, these 8 weeks taught me a lot. (If you are still reading this article, as I said in the beginning, being a fresher) It was totally new culture for me. New in terms of responsibility, ownership, culture, values, deadline and deliverables. For any concept I was ‘ OK  I know,Hota hai’. This organization inculcated so many things in such a less time so that by the end I was like  ‘Aisa bhi hota hai??’   The organization considers every individual as a member of the big HSBC family and strives for his development. No matter that individual is ST, MT or a person on senior position. I remember my regional head coming to me and saying, ‘I know 2 months is very less time but do learn as much as you can. Go and talk to anyone you feel can help you. I want you to work for the bank but I also want to give some value addition from our side. These 8 weeks should not be remain you in the form of completion certificate but an experience you can utilize or at least cherish for the years to come. ’

Need I say more??


Ankit Redkar