After a year of theoretical training, MBA program gives us a chance to embark on internships in different companies. These internships are very imperative in nature. Especially for students like me, with no corporate experience, it gives us a very good opportunity to implement our classroom knowledge on the field.
I wanted my first taste of the corporate world to be challenging and there could be no better company than HCCBPL to provide that for me. Coke, as it is popularly known, is one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world. Getting to work for this company for two months was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
It started off well. I received an innovative project for market development. My work was to open a new channel for distribution for HCCBPL. The new channel was the distribution on tricycles, just like the channel used by ice cream vendors.
It sounded rather easy in my mind. Understand the ice cream model, make the model compatible for Coke, get a distributor to work for the company and start the test run. Well, within a few days into the project I realized how wrong I was.
Understanding the model was easy. I surveyed 30-35 cycle walas along with 10 odd distributors to know how they go about their work. Their margins, how they procure the product, how they maintain the stocks, average sales et cetera.
But now was the tough part. I realized that there are numerous bottlenecks to get this done. The margins were the biggest, the availability of distributors, the weather, stock outs were other issues.
Coca cola in itself is an institution of learning. Their success lies in their ‘constructive arrogance’. They don’t compromise and while negotiating, one will never find them bowing down. They will however, go out of the way to take care of their partners i.e. the distributors as they are their most important ‘customers’. They will make sure the stakeholders are happy but on the back of their minds, they never forget the points that differentiate them from their nearest competitors.
I learned immensely from my industry mentor there. He gave me full power to negotiate and make offers to the distributors on behalf of Coke. I was lucky enough to be present at meetings and learned a lot about distribution networks, hidden costs and most importantly, how to make business partners.
At the end, the test run was successful and hopefully, my project will come into implementation soon.
At last and by no way least, I would like to thank International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar to provide me with such an opportunity. I could not have asked for a better start to my corporate life.