Rural bond…

Jun 24, 2014 | Posted by admin in Student's Speak   No Comments »

Rshi Ahuja, a rural management student at WeSchool, Mumbai, on working in the rustic belt and learning that one size actually doesn’t fit all..

I got the opportunity to intern with Pidilite Industries Limited — the largest adhesive manufacturer in India and the makers of Fevicol — thanks to the efforts of my faculty members at PGDM-rural management (emerging economies) and the career management cell at WeSchool, Mumbai.

An engineer by training, I used to dream about landing a corporate job but the rural management programme helped me redefine my career goals. I was selected for Pidilite’s “rurban division” after a group discussion followed by two rounds of personal interviews with the divisional and human resources heads of the company. The rurban division deals with the sales and marketing of products in rural areas, covering towns with less than 50,000 people.

The project assigned to me was to implement a sustainable distribution model for the company’s products in towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants. It was a challenging task for the company to reach out to these places. Even if they came up with a distribution model in one state, it would not work in another state.

My first task was to evaluate a model that the company had implemented successfully in Uttar Pradesh and present my observations. I also had to come up with a new model which the company could implement in states where the earlier model did not fit. The second part of my internship was spent doing research in Karnataka and implementing the new model derived from the lessons learnt in UP.

I was expected to travel to different rural locations every day. I would travel by bus or train and go about my task of gathering data. This job was really exciting as every day was different. I was continuously travelling and meeting new people. Every day brought new experiences, resulting in immense learning about how business is carried out at the ground level in rural India. On the weekends, I would collate the data and, in my spare time, visit some nearby tourist spots and chill out.

The most important thing I learnt was about the customers’ behaviour in two most contrasting regions of India. In Uttar Pradesh I found the people very helpful whereas in Karnataka even a simple communication was an issue due to the language barrier. I understood that one would have to act differently in different places. I got a better understanding of the complexities in business situations and learnt how to do business and handle distributors in different parts of India. I also learnt about the distribution networks of other fast moving consumer goods giants such as Hindustan Unilver Limited and ITC Ltd. I learnt that “one size doesn’t fit all”, especially in the Indian business scenario. Every person in the country has to realise this sooner or later in order to survive and grow. My internship taught me that whatever one learns in a classroom is different from ground realities. That doesn’t mean one needs to hit the ground running because your education prepares you to face the world. Gathering data, which was the main objective of my internship, is becoming very complex. Understanding and handling the field dynamics is a major challenge for most companies.

I would like to tell my fellow students to be open to any challenge that comes your way. Be ready to travel, work those extra hours, and just enjoy whatever you face! Do not get bogged down by the projects assigned to you, pump life into a seemingly dead project and see the result. Even if one is assigned a data entry job during internship, effort should be made to find better ways to enter that data.

My summer internship project was selected among the top 10 in an all-India competition organised by the Rural Management Association of India, a premier industry body devoted to furthering the cause of rural marketing. It was a great experience to stand before an audience comprising corporate leaders, academicians and fellow students from leading institutes and present the knowledge gathered from my internship.

My performance during the summer internship resulted in a job. I am looking forward to working with Pidilite Industries Limited as a trainee in their sales department and continue to work hard and learn more (and earn more as well!)



7am: Reach the bus depot to catch a local bus. Buy a pack of biscuits and water for the road. As the buses are never on time, I sip chai at the makeshift tea stall to kill time. Board the bus finally at 7.30am

12pm:After a long and bumpy bus ride, followed by another in a Tata Ace auto shared with 20 people, I reach the distributor’s warehouse

12.30pm:I hitch a ride on a salesman’s bike to meet the dealers, talk to them and fill up a questionnaire

2pm:Lunch at a roadside dhaba

2.30pm to 5.30pm:Meet different dealers and collect required data

6pm:Take a bus back to Lucknow

10pm:Reach home at the end of a long day

10.30pm:Have dinner and start planning for my next day out in another rural setting

As told to Avijit Chatterjee,The Telegraph


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