Monthly Archives: December 2014

Interning @ Future Brands —A MYRAcle’s experience

My summer job was a short term experience that provided me a real insight into what it’s actually like working in a brand management firm for a career of my choice. I was interned at Future Brands, Delhi. Currently, I am a management student at MYRA School of Business, Mysore. My institution helped me to escalate my market opportunities and to intern with one of the leading conglomerates of the country. Dr. Nagananda Kumar- Executive Director, MYRA found my skill set suitable for brand management and thus suggested me to write to Future Brands expressing my interest working with them.

Why FUTURE BRANDS??

‘Future Brands’- is a subsidiary for Future Group of companies and is one of the leading houses in the country for brand solutions. I have always been excited about brands as a customer and this was a real time opportunity for me to know about them! As soon as I was recommended for Future Brands, I went hurriedly through the company’s web-site and its presence in social-media. What I found there was real attention-grabbing!! ‘Future Brands’ doesn’t only provide solutions to nationals and multinationals but also create and maintain their own brands. The subsidiary establishment is an owner of almost 85% brands of Future Retail. Apart from these, it also provides services for Indian and global companies on conceptual and operational brand challenges, helps them to recognize consumer insights and provides brand strategies. In simple language Future Brands supports these companies to succeed in business through insights & knowledge-based brand solutions.

Along with me were five more of my MYRA cohorts, interested to intern with ‘Future Brands’. Most of us matched the same interest and were ardent towards the learning experience yet to come. Our curriculum vitae was now already shared with Future Brands. One fine day e-mails popped-up from Mr. Atulit Saxsena; Chief Operating Officer; Future brands, who asked us to position a Skype Call the same evening. As informed the on-line call meet took place exactly at 6:00 pm the same evening. All of us were equally excited for this meeting. The conversation started by introducing each-other and unfolding about each-other’s strengths and weaknesses. After an exhaustive discussion, and analyzing everyone’s strengths; Mr. Atulit, suggested our team to author a book on ‘Private Brands’ and its scenario in the Indian Market. We were a lot more excited now. Come-on!! Which management student would say ‘NO’ to such an opportunity!

We were required to report at Future Brands office, Delhi on 21st April 2014 and thus all of us were likewise excited and well stable at the destined place by the previous day. The first day at Future Brand’s office was incredible. I never saw such a cool office in my career, or had ever imagined of. The culture followed at Future Brands was totally different and new to everyone in our team. More than cubicles the office people preferred large conference halls, where all of them can sit together and discuss on any project. The environs around the office was much different than other work places. The office was full with an energetic mix of Brand strategy and management expertise who take on brand challenges in various categories of products.

The first couple of days were intensive and a lot of coffee was required (good thing coffee was free!). Our initial days were spent with secondary research and exhaustive discussions with brand managers and experts present at Future Brands office. The idea was to acquire perfect knowledge about our individual areas of research for the book. The other eight weeks ahead led us to primary research; visits to various outlets across the city, surveying retailers and consumers, and online/offline meetings with various project heads. These meetings provided us real time inputs supporting our content. In the meanwhile we were also drafting our reports with the ongoing research. The last one week was spent with adding additional contents, designing, proof reading, layouts, and template groundwork for the book. Mr. Atulit used to guide us on our works done on a day-to-day basis, which facilitated us to structure our notions in a better manner.

At last I would say, interning at Future Brands was gratifying, challenging, and a total learning experience. For someone like me with no brand management background and a limited idea about the field, my internship experience was like learning a foreign language. Nevertheless, practice and a lot of reading helped me grasp the basic concepts of Brand management. There’s was no better way to acquire these skills without jumping into a corporate environment.

Amaresh Panda

PGDM 2nd year

MYRA School of Business

 

Immersion Learning Model @ MYRA – musings from Lisbon, Portugal

65 days. That’s how long it has been since I landed on the shores of Portugal to continue my MBA at the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics. It’s safe to say that every day in Europe has been nothing short of awesome. Working with people from all over the world, getting to know them, their culture, their priorities interests was truly exciting, all in the span of one trimester. It has truly justified the phrase of ‘time having flown by.’

I had taken four subjects in the first trimester and four in the second one. Catolica Lisbon School of Business and Economics follows a traditional educational model of having multiple subjects running in parallel in the course of a trimester, something that a vast majority of the B-schools follow. MYRA School of Business on the other hand follows an immersion model where a deep dive into one subject is done over the course of 2 weeks.  In a span of 6 weeks we had completed 4 subjects which would correspond to 3 subjects at MYRA. It was truly a learning experience as I had been exposed to both models of learning and was very little to choose between the two as the benefits from both models were different in their own regard.

The understanding of a subject when you study it continually for 2 weeks is very deep. You just have one subject on your mind the entire 2 weeks. There is a greater degree of interaction with the faculty and more focus on a subject. The immersion model runs the risk of students tending to forget the subject once it is done. Relating the knowledge from one subject to another is often a problem, especially if two or more subjects from the same domain are spaced apart in the course of a year. If subjects are arranged in a logical order to ensure a link between subsequent subjects, the immersion model would eliminate its one primary risk.

But in the traditional model when you are studying 4 different subjects, your mind has to manage 4 different processes running in parallel and unless we find a way to tackle the subject matter based on the toughness of the subject, the chances of certain subjects being ignored are very high. There are advantages in the traditional model too, since many subjects are running in parallel all the concepts are fresh and if you have taken subjects that are linked with each other you can easily apply concepts from one subject to the other.

Every subject in a management program has a project and the weightage for this is almost half of the final exam, therefore they play a very critical role in determining your final grade for the subject. The advantage in the immersion model with projects is that you work with only one team till the subject is over. You can take time to get to know your team and have enough time to uniformly distribute the work. But in the traditional model you have to parallel work with 4 different teams that is almost 20 different people. While an immersion model offers you the chance to get to know a team in depth, the traditional model challenges your multi-tasking skills. Team skills being tested at MYRA and multi-tasking skills at Catolica have given me a more complete experience in handling teams.

As students the most important benefit of the immersion mode is seen with regards to the final exam. One final exam every two weeks is much better than 4 exams in 4 days. Since the exam is so close to the course starting you have to plan every day very well. One day of unplanned partying can make or break a course. You are forced to study whatever is taught on that day on the same day. If you don’t feel like studying, the mere sight of your peers putting in the effort force you to hit the books. One may feel here that once a subject is done you might forget it completely but that’s not the case because in an MBA, every subject is linked and you will be looking back to concepts in other subjects throughout the year.

Ultimately, it depends on the student to decide which model is suitable, based on their strengths and weaknesses. But with MYRA’s faculty line up and the structure in which subjects are organized, one can be sure of having a unique and enriching study experience.

Bharath S

PGDM 2nd year

MYRA School of Business

 

eCommerce is Still Commerce!

When I joined the technology oriented Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for my PhD two decades back, I discovered this new technology called email using which I could contact all my friends in other schools for free. I was so excited by this discovery that I called home that night (at $1.60/minute) to report this to my parents. Today, students sitting in my class can verify every word as I speak using Google/Wikipedia and order any book I mention on Amazon — overnight delivery, of course. Such has been stunning progress of the e-world. The eCommerce field, particularly the B2C variety is the most buoyant sector of the Indian business landscape today. A recent study by E&Y valued B2C eCommerce in India at nearly $10 billion/year but growing at a blistering 50% per year. The key drivers being rising disposable incomes, increasing broadband connectivity, the mobile platform and business innovations by market players (COD delivery, etc.).

Expectedly the field has attracted many players—from home grown Flipkart to international players including Amazon, and the current super-nova, Alibaba. These span soup to nuts players such as Flipkart to specialized vendors such as Pepperfry. Indeed, no week passes without some big news from one or the other – if it was big plans by Amazon last week, this week it is the Softbank investment in SnapDeal. These players are also making news for their splashy recruitments from leading B-Schools.

The business press is agog, with discussions about the chances of success of these players perhaps rivaled only by discussions about the national cricket team in the upcoming World Cup!

However, it is prudent to remember that despite all the excitement, eCommerce is still essentially Commerce and not exempt from the basic principles and practices driving commerce. The e- component provides certain capabilities to the vendors to reach and service customers and also has created certain expectations in buyers. Success of a vendor would depend on harnessing these capabilities to meet basic business requirements as well as enhanced expectations from customers. Based on my experience at some of the top companies in the world, I’d include:

Product Mix: Given the characteristics of an eCommerce business, it would be tempting to offer everything to everyone. But this should be conditioned on the vendor’s capability to fulfill these orders. The backend supply chain for mass market products is vastly different from those of long-tail  products.

Pricing: As in all business, offering the right products at the right price is critical. Currently, most vendors, especially the big ones are offering deep discounts to capture market share in the hope that buyers will be sticky. This may have created an expectation in customers of ever-low prices. Clearly this is not a long-term sustainable strategy.

Marketing: The online media including social media makes a natural fit for marketing eCommerce offerings. However, this also requires that most of the population have broadband access – not yet in India. Hence those players who best leverage a mix of online and offline media for marketing would fare best. I repeatedly impress this upon my students in the course on eCommerce that I teach at MYRA.

Customer Experience: Nothing can ensure that customer will not return as a page that loads very slowly or a site that returns some inane error after you have filled all order details including the 16-digit card number. Hence, great companies pay a lot of attention to this factor – for example, at JP Morgan Chase, for customer facing web pages, our mandate was to ensure that page loads in 7 seconds or less as research had indicated that anything longer will result in visitors browsing away.

Order Fulfillment: Ultimately, it all comes down to order fulfillment. Delayed delivery, mis-delivery, non-delivery, all are killers of customer loyalty. As vendors shift to a marketplace model from stock and sell model, this gains additional importance since a player’s credibility depends upon the capabilities of suppliers.

Customer Interaction: Managing customer interaction including enquiries, product information and grievances make the difference between one-time and repeat customers. Online tools greatly enhance a vendor’s capability for a deep customer engagement and must be leveraged. Companies such as 3M and Honeywell where I spent couple of years leverage their eCommerce sites to make available the most detailed information on their complex technical products – something simply impossible in the paper world.

The above is sufficient to show that eCommerce must cover the requirements of basic commerce and more. What does all this mean to an MBA student?

For an MBA student being recruited by an eCommerce player, it is very difficult assessing the employer in terms of their future growth, survivability and so on since few publish verifiable financial and other metrics. But you can evaluate them on factors such as those discussed here to assess the desirability and possibility of success of the employer given your aptitude, career plans and aspirations.

dr-s-h-rao

Dr.Sudhendar H Rao

Professor of Information Systems

MYRA School of Business