Sardarni, Smoke & Summers...

by Gurneet Kaur Bhatia on Thursday 16 August 2012, 9:12 AM | Category: Summer Internship Contest| View: 3388 views
 
 
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I interned with ITC's Tobacco division. As soon as the news of my division and the project came, all my friends, classmates and even the college local store friendly shopkeeper (who obviously gets to know more about all of us) seemed to have just one funda to give me whenever they saw me  “Gurneet….u need to try the product to understand it better…here take a fag” Huh!! The only scene that came to my Bollywood influenced mind that time was the one from the movie Sholay with Dharmender's famous dialogue “ In ku*** ke saamne mat naachna”. And me doing a self-talk saying “GKB is cigarette ke dhuyein ko mat fookna”. So with all this in my head I reach the city of yellow taxis and roshogullas: Kolkata. I would have loved to mention it as city of joy only if I would have experienced the same on my arrival. On the contrary, I was put by my beloved ITC in a guest house where there were other ITC employees none of whom I knew and all of them male and the grave concern of security hovering on my mind. I start making calls as to what can be done as this was totally not acceptable to me.  And this is what I get to hear from various sources and I quote… “ ITC does not believe in discriminating men and women. Tomorrow if you have to go in sales, you have to be open to this”, “ITC is a sarkari company, they would not even bother to change your accommodation” and “Aagey aagey dekho hota hai kya”.


With all this in my mind, I reach my office, the next morning. A land mark building near the mecca of Kolkata , the Park Street, I enter the HR's office. “Gurneet, you look sleep deprived”, the first reaction of the considerate HR. And I wanted to reply again in Bollywood style “Neend churayi meri..kisne O sanam…Tuney…Tuney”. But I rather chose to tell her the problem I faced last night and my inhibition in being put to that guest house. Within an hour my guest house was changed, no questions asked. After an hour of induction session with HR, where I was told how cigarettes are produced, stored, sold, stakeholders, markets, brands and what not I was introduced to my manager. And here the journey kick starts.  An 8 hour long introduction session to cigarettes (where in most of time I was dumb-struck with the question…so many brands, why didn't I ever see them??) I just ended up putting up a status message on Facebook “Cigarettes: you can love them, you can hate them; but you definitely cannot ignore them”

Minutes, hours, days passed…and how…WOW!! Before I write any further I would like to add a disclaimer that whatever I write in the next few paragraphs is totally my opinion and my experience with ITC. Kindly do not perceive that I have been paid to write all this. My internship experience in the Tobacco division of ITC was simply superb. Be it my project, my mentors, fellow interns, other team members, trips, final presentation, parties all just added to my fabulous experience. I had a project related to Brand Management domain and bulk of my work involved meeting new people…from brand managers to category heads, from research analysts to consultants, merchandisers, advertisers, designers, market research agents, production heads, quality heads, on and on and on. And this involved me travelling the length and the breadth of the country. Delhi, Bangalore, Bombay, Haryana were few places I toured.  Sometimes, I used to feel if all that I am being paid was to travel and talk.

As days passed, there came a phase where most of the interns turn great “gossip girls” (including guys as well). Yes, we all have something to crib about our internship with words like…”my project is not good”, “my manager is the biggest moron”, “they just don't know how to respect people from best B-schools”, “they don't have a PPI/PPO policy here”, “they don't share the data and expect us to work” and something like “I can't work cos' they stink here”. Even I had a share of this cry-phase too. And, what did I complain for? Fairly simple to guess, “How do they expect me to create a project report and presentation, for all this while all that they wanted me to do was talking”. Yes, this was a big question. I had no hope left in my project. I had all this while thought that my managers were some great fans of Homer Simpson and believed in his philosophy of “If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing”. But suddenly when they turned into the typical managers and expected me to give a report of my learning and insights, I was dumb-struck. So, I took recluse in whining and crying over this and joining the gossip gang.

But as Rajesh Khanna immortalised the words “Pushpa, I hate tears”, so did I had the need to stop crying and start working. Around eight days to go for my final presentation, I remembered the advice of my seniors who told me that internships somewhere follow the Pareto's 80/20 principle, i.e. 80% of the work is done in last 20% of the days. I followed that advice and started collecting whatever I had learnt. At this moment, let us take a pause and thank the Oh' so great Mr. Bill Gates for creating MS Excel and MS PowerPoint. It truly came to my rescue. Excel to add weight to whatever GLOBE/GAS that I was trying to put and PowerPoint to add the aesthetic value and to make the GAS more colourful. And it took some burning of midnight oil, a lot of consumption of coffee and yes just a 4 hour sleep for few days and things just started to shape up. Finally, I was ready with my presentation and my report.

The D-day arrived. The clash of the titans, I would like to call it. All big B-school stalwarts ready to fight it out for one big title “Sabse acha intern kaun?” All of us tucked in as our most professional self, with marketing jargons on our tongues, we all presented our case. For me, it was a reconciliation of the fact…in the end everything just falls into place. An appreciation of my work by the CEO and a recognition by managers for my efforts (if at all there were any, I doubt) really gave me a “vodka-high”. And then it was time for some real “vodka-high” as me and my fellow intern were taken out by our managers and team to a posh club in Kolkata to celebrate. A beautiful end to a beautiful journey. Yes, I love you ITC for knowing how to treat its interns right (not to deny I was one of the lucky few), for giving me freedom to be independent with my work, for making me meet some wonderful people and for giving me two memorable months of my MBA journey. I hope they accept this love of mine soon with a PPO, thereby giving me another reason to write an article to express my joy to have worked for ITC.

---GKB

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