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Summer 2017

Summer Diaries: ITC

August 6, 2017
- Soumajit Sen

About ITC

ITC is a multi-billion-dollar Indian conglomerate which was established in 1910 as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India. Today its diversified business includes: FMCG, Hotels, Paperboards & Packaging, Agri-Business and Information Technology. It has a market capitalisation of over US $40 billion and a turnover of around US $8 billion.

Making it there

ITC has an entirely offbeat selection process to scrutinise and select its interns. The process commences with the company presentation and is followed by the display of the list of shortlisted candidates. The submission of the applications had occurred on their portal 2 weeks prior to the presentation. The presentation is followed by Group Discussion. The group discussion is a case study where your opinion with supportive arguments for the given situation matters the most. Group Discussion is among groups of 9 students each. The cases in general are hypothetical situations with certain alternatives following the situation. You are expected to arrange the alternatives in order of priority. For cracking the GD try to read the case study as fast as you can and start the dialogue. Initiating the GD, driving it to conclusion or even a sensible summary will fetch you brownie points. Next in line are two rounds of interview, the first is technical with the other being HR. The latter is taken up by the senior most professionals on the team.

The technical interview is to check your conceptual understanding of the subject and how strong you are with your basics. Be prepared with at least two subjects as the interviewee is always given an option to choose any 2 courses that he/she is comfortable with. For chemical, Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, Thermodynamics, etc could be the options. The resume will be discussed thoroughly and it is advisable to only mention projects about which you are confident. Be prepared to answer questions about your most recent internship/ project.

The HR round begins with a series of clichéd questions such as, “Tell us about yourself”, “Strengths and Weaknesses” and then gradually moves onto the tricky ones like say the implications of working in a tobacco factory or about working in remote locations (Munger for example).

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Workplace

Aim of the internship and domain of work

The projects at ITC are real world business problems which the company is currently tackling. The expectations from KITES interns is enormous and they reciprocate with the freedom the interns are given to carry out any experiment, contact any OEM, install any equipment and even design any machine. Any insights put forward by KITES interns are taken up with utmost concern and discussions are also held on the same. The Projects assigned are from different disciplines, ranging from supply chain, quality control, automation to Six sigma, Image Processing and Optimization. Most of the times it so happens that the projects are not related to your domain and it becomes mandatory to step out of your comfort zone to finish the task. As for mine I was assigned two projects, one being on quality control and assurance and the other on Statistical Process Control Techniques in the Foods Business Division on a product belonging to the brand Fabelle. In my project specifically, the major bottleneck was the shelf life of the product and the time it took for the micro-organisms to enumerate and for me to receive the reports. Yes, you read it right, this summer I was working on micro-biology. My approach towards the problem was using the Quality Control Technique to check on all the reasons which summed up to the problem and to come up with practices and solutions which confirmed quality assurance and control. The second project was on improving process capability for moisture variation which demanded control charts and step-by-step analysis of the process to deliver.

Reviews were held every week with the project guide in the eight weeks internship period and two reviews with the entire team which were presided over by the category head occurred, one at the end of 4 weeks and the other at the end of 8 weeks. The mid-review and final review are particularly important to track an intern’s progress and only on the category head’s recommendation will the project qualify for a review at the Head Office.

As for the offer, the intern-PPO conversion rate at ITC is around 45-50% and it’s best to not be optimistic and prepare for the worst. But once offered a job at ITC, the initial few months involve a lot of factory visits and travel.

Work culture

ITC has a dynamic work culture. It demands you to be on-the-go. One day you are at a factory and the next day at another (which is in a different city altogether) and since the company is expanding its FMCG market, the current scenario is intense. Every project being undertaken is critical to the company’s future and is the reason why when interns work on a project, it attracts the entire team’s attention.

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As for an intern’s week, I had a 6-day job since my project demanded that the majority of my time be spent at the factory. The factories have strong management practices such as the 5S’ which are carefully adhered to. Everyone at ITC is always pumped about work and always come up with innovative stuff. During my internship tenure, I also had the opportunity to visit Life Sciences and Technology Center (LSTC), Bangalore, the R&D HQ of ITC which has state-of-the-art facilities.

People at the place

We as interns at ITC are allotted a “guide” who works along with the interns on the project in addition to their day-to-day tasks. The guide is always there to help the intern with any doubt, query or regarding any clarification. The entire system is transparent. Data is shared with the interns during their tenure as required providing them with all the resources necessary in completing the project. This time a new concept of a “buddy” was also introduced who was necessarily not from the same category. Buddy had the responsibility to help the intern with any kind of issue, be it personal or to get a hang of the system protocol in addition to helping with the project if need be. I had a buddy from the biscuits category despite interning in New Category (Chocolates). Everyone at ITC is extremely helpful and easily approachable including the unit head.

What’s to love about the place

The most awesome and motivating part about ITC is the way they treat their interns be it the stay, travel, induction programme, etc. It’s a dream come true to work as an intern at ITC. It all starts with a 3-day “Mind Over Matter” induction programme at Bengaluru during the month of April. The entire induction programme along with the stay is arranged at ITC Windsor, a classic of the ITC luxury hotels chain.

At the start of the tenure we were summoned to the head office of the division we had been allocated and I had a chance to interact with the senior members including the CEO of the division (in my case Foods). Then since my base location was Bangalore, I could commence work the same day. I was made familiar with all the departments and incorporated into the factory dynamics. Although difficult to roam around during the internship tenure, Bangalore is a pretty happening place especially throughout the weekends and enough places to chill out. The weather in Bangalore is admirable with cool breezy winds and rain showers almost every day. All in all, it was a remarkable journey to cherish throughout.

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Summing up and key takeaways

The two-month tenure at ITC is a huge value-addition to any intern. Irrespective of the outcome, there is a lot to learn and apply within these 2 months. It might be difficult to scale your thinking but solutions presented with impacts to the business are always commendable. Life will be a bit difficult during these two months and sometimes you might feel demotivated but perseverance is the key to everything.

As for the recruitment part, those individuals are preferred who display out-of-the-box thinking and therefore the term ‘Mind-Over-Matter’ is given importance. They look for candidates who step out of their comfort zone to achieve or those that have strived hard to work towards their goals. I would advise the candidates sitting for ITC to keep your calm when appearing for the interviews and the group discussion, and also to be clear and confident of what you have mentioned on your resume.