For Me, It Wasn’t A Cup Of Coffee, It Was A ‘Cup Of Opportunities’ – #RP’s Unique Summer Internship Experience
A solitary fantasy can transform a million realities – Maya Angelou
An awesome summer internship was one of my many fantasies that I had while preparing for MBA entrance exams; here is how it transformed into a reality.
A person with general management course having an inclination toward marketing and interning with Agrochemical company was not a usual thing. Every management student dreams about interning with top FMCG, Consulting or Financial Institution but I have been very eccentric in my approach so I applied for UPL summer internship and got selected.
3rd April 2017 was a very unusual day for me. My internship was at UPL House in Mumbai itself (A city of million dreams and possibilities). We had detailed presentation about company and right from there, I kept my mind open to learning most out of this journey.
I got an opportunity in the first week itself to interact with company’s Chairman & MD Mr. R.D. Shroff and Mr. Vikram Shroff (Executive Director Promoter).
Part I: Internship project
My project was to create a digital engagement strategy for UPL (India). My project mentor guided me on a different aspect of industry and company. India is a country of countries. Engaging values, mission, and vision of the company with Indian demographics were the task to tranquillity. In an era of social media, companies are rushing to push their brand to catch the eyeball of billions of netizens but around ~80% of them forget to strategize their engagement and understand the quantum of digital platforms. He asked me to go through few case studies pertaining to the industry and to create a framework for understanding the company and its business environment. The kind of attention my mentor gave to my queries and the way he made sure that I stick to the expected deliverables with a practical solution was commendable.
Learning: your simplicity and specific approach will drive the deliverables from a person sitting next to you.
Further, I had an opportunity to get inputs from Ms. Mariola -Global Communication Manager, Advanta Seeds (UPL). She guided me on how communication strategies work for different countries including UK, USA, Africa, Australia, Europe etc. This made me aware of nuances of communication models.
Next step was to seek inputs from the sales department. It is important in any business that break-even is met & further with Positive Measurable Returns on the cost incurred. My prior sales experience assuaged me to understand sales channel of this industry where bargaining power lies with distributors. The study of the field was crucial and gave me required insights.
Learning: Digital is not easy as it looks like, it can propel you any time either backwards or forward with an equal amount of force.
As the digital engagement is a buzz around B2B and B2C business. It is the need of the hour for B2E also (Business to Employees-internal departments). The interdepartmental engagement is crucial for any organisation. The most re-inventive minds are employees of any company. Every employee is the embodiment of company’s vision and values. B2E insights further enriched input data for final strategy.
The framework approach helped me a lot to get insights from various stakeholders. After primary framework inputs, I also had to take special care on legal aspects of the digital environment, the dynamism of digital world and with further inputs from the mentor took me toward execution of the project.
Part II: Exclusive Projects of Internship
The unique part of my internship was to work with S. Ganesan, VP at UPL Ltd.
I still remember his words “One has to keep learning unlearned and unlearning learned. This will shape you to your best.”
Let me take you to the brief experience on these exclusive projects
Branding and positioning Indian Agriculture
Our agriculture sector outpaces the other sectors in terms of world ranking. Our demographical and agricultural diversity is unique in the entire world. However, unfortunately, our strengths have never been communicated the way it has to be. My task was to suggest different ways to brand and position Indian Agriculture.
Transforming India into a leader in Agricultural Trade
This was a presentation before APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) upon their invitation to Ganesan sir to seek inputs on increasing agricultural export of India. Besides, they also asked for roadmap strategy to achieve $100 bn agricultural export. (By the way, India’s net agricultural trade is more than China.)
Doubling farmers income by 2022 – the way forward
This project brought me an experience for a lifetime. I was sitting at the same table with Ganesan sir and preparing a presentation. I was experiencing a live example of learning of unlearned and unlearning of learned. This project taught me practicality of economic concepts of demand and supply in inherently volatile agriculture market and the law of diminishing returns in the agriculture sector.
The INDIA TODAY AGRO Summit 2017 was an event where we had to advertise the UPL brand as a knowledge partner. I was part of communication team assigned for that event at New Delhi. Union Minister of Agriculture, Agriculture Secretary and many dignitaries were attending that event. I was contented to see the highest footfall at UPL stall during the event. I learned ways to communicate the brand story and seen the result with my own eyes.
Picture: Interaction with farmers at New Delhi
Data is ‘a new oil’ and I literally experienced it. These projects required extensive data mining and analysis. Our country has just embarked on digital platforms. Therefore, getting relevant and right data was the challenge of every minute. My mentor’s minute observations honed my data analysis skills and learned how to pick right data set for analysis and extract insights from it.
Learning: obtaining insights from data is more important than mining and analysing of data
Brand positioning in 27 minutes
One-day sir asked us to create brand positioning strategy for one of the products of UPL and time given was 15mins. The challenge of 15mins tested my mettle. I failed to submit it in 15mins but I submitted it in 27mins. I was cheery to see my logic and thought process matching exactly to the standard solution.
I am a proud son of a farmer belonging to a very small village in the state of Maharashtra. Agriculture has always been very close to my heart. My 13 years of experience in rural and 7+ years in urban, metropolitan city gave me an edge with a sound understanding of demographics and business opportunities. I was able to correlate it with the sector company operates in. This helped me to understand these projects thoroughly.
On a final note, this experience would not have been so successful without one person – Ms. Archana, Manager at UPL. Her guidance during the internship was invaluable. Ms. Apurva, a project teammate has also contributed equally to the success of these projects. Her attention to the details was amazing.
This was my cup of opportunities. Exclusive projects of my internship
I had to work day-night and even on the weekends, & I made best out of these projects. Very few management students get such opportunities during the internship and………….I am one of them
This experience has emphasised my belief in one of the core messages of a life, wherever you are, whatever you do, you should focus on your dream and action i.e. dreaction by doing things better.
Picture: On last day of internship, me and my project teammate got special thanks on display screen at canteen.
Here is the biggest and most memorable moment of my internship: An appreciation from CMD UPL ltd
For future summer interns:
To be exceptional, one should do exceptional things and should not have a fear of failure.
Take a risk to be unconventional and you will see hundred of possibilities out there.
Self-belief is such a strong feeling that takes you to the next level. Nurture it.
Read, Read, Read and Read.
Ganesan sir gave me very precious advice; I will pass it on for you
Never accept things as it is. Flip it around and see the other sides.
He also quoted words of John Mason “You’re born original, don’t die a copy of someone else.”