InterXperience @ABFRL – by Utkarsh Gupta #70

Are women better CEO’s or Men? You must be overflowing with thoughts to answer this question, isn’t it? This was the topic of my GD, the first round of the selection process for ABFRL and this is where I believe my learning around the corporate world had taken the next step as I was about to be selected to intern with India’s first billion-dollar pure-play fashion powerhouse with an elegant bouquet of leading fashion brands and retail formats. A month later, my best friend and I were exploring the classiest innerwear and athleisure at Van Heusen Innerwear’s first exclusive brand outlet (EBO) in Baner, Pune as this was the brand I was to be associated with, as told to me during the interview. Yes, this was my brand calling as I really got hooked onto their product line and that was also the reason for my friends’ banter who could see the brand name popping out at times, from the top of my jeans.

Interview Preparation:

My preparation was specific. There were two areas I worked on – general awareness and my communication skills. Reading the newspaper each and every day was one crucial factor which I believe really helped me and is otherwise a must for an MBA student. It really helps you come up with ideas either for the GD, interview or for any day to day conversation. I focused on the trends in the economy, M&As and other major market events. To improve my communication skills, I engaged my friends in the hostel in GD’s and one to one discussions which helped me instill confidence. Other than that practice interviews and review of my answers to FAQs with seniors, organized by the Management Committee of SCMHRD worked wonders in this direction.

I don’t think there are any virtues more important than purpose and passion that can help you sail through the personal interview. I was able to convince the interviewers with my enthusiasm and initiative-taking abilities in conjunction to my life events and academic record. I strongly believe an interview is not a Q&A session but a simulation of a 3 AM conversation with your best friend as to what and why you intend to do with your career.

Internship Experience:

At Van Heusen Inner Wear and Athleisure, a major chunk of revenue is generated from the general trade channel that comprises of more than 300 distributors across India. My project was related to Supplier Managed Inventory and Collaborative Replenishment, wherein I conducted a need analysis and feasibility study of an Automatic Replenishment System (ARS) with distributors of men’s innerwear. This system could help them maintain appropriate buffer stock as per their secondary sales & assortment and assist them in placing orders of right quantity at the right time to the warehouse, thereby ensuring equitable distribution among all these channel partners. I also proposed the mathematical logic to be used for implementing ARS and a plausible deployment/ rollout plan.

Market research (both primary through surveys & interviews, and secondary through literature review) was an important aspect of my internship. I interacted with relevant personnel’s engaged in distribution and replenishment such as the warehouse team; the SAP team; the sales team including the RSMs, ASMs, & SEs and the distributors on the other hand. I  connected with SMEs from other ABFRL brands which indeed is a major advantage of working here as everyone is just a ping away! I also talked to people from the FMCG industry and from competitor brands such as Jockey and Enamor who have put ARS in use. Lastly, I validated my proposal with my mentor and some other stakeholders in order to fine-tune the ARS logic and overall hypothesis. This also included exploring the software(s) that could be used, ongoing process improvements and challenges to automation.

Key learnings:

As I reflect on the 8 weeks of my blink view at ABFRL, I will always be short of words to touch upon all the aspects that I was able to experience. I learned the dynamics of the trade channel and its dissimilarities from the retail channel. My interactions with the sales force made me realise how products are placed and distributed in the market. Further, I am lucky enough to work on a project related to automation in supply chain and replenishment planning, that too across the general trade channel in apparel retail where there is a lot of scope.

Advice to Juniors:

Some advice that I would like to give my my juniors –

1.Primary Research is a very crucial part of your internship, talk to as many people you can both before and during the internship.

2.You can always learn what you know you are lacking at but the knowledge and wisdom received from industry professionals will definitely go a long way in your career.

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