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Shobhit Shekhar is a 3rd year Undergraduate pursuing a B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Material Science.
This is Shobhit Shekhar, soon to be fourth year undergraduate in Metallurgical Engineering and Material Science Department, IIT Bombay. I am about to share an account of my experience with M H Alshaya, here in Kuwait .
Alshaya came to campus for interns for the second time after a gap of one year. But the process is rather simple. They shortlist based on their requirements(assumed to be initiatives, read as PORs and internships). There is no CPI cutoff. Speaking personally, I along with some others were shortlisted based on our presence in the PPT. So your interest and enthusiasm counts. It was followed by a group discussion after which we had to go through a personal interview. We were asked resume based and generic HR questions such as ‘ Why do you want to work for Alshaya?’, ‘ What are your expectations and apprehensions about Kuwait?’ and so on. I would recommend being frank about your thoughts and expectations as they value honesty. After clearing the personal interview, your selection is finalized.
To be honest what with all the unrest in the region, I was a bit apprehensive about working in the Middle-East. But frankly, Kuwait is very stable and safe (at least for all the white collared workers :P, some say even more than europe, given the current scenario). There are a lot of expatriates working in Kuwait. It is a small country, so the places you can travel to are rather limited. Having said that, Kuwait city is a coastal city so there are beaches galore. Sailing is a way of life here.There are the Kuwait towers which is a famous landmark with great views and a famous restaurant up in the tower.
Then there is a sea city- Sabah Al Ahmad – that is a prime location for sailing . The pristine water there is a sight to behold. There are shooting ranges equipped with high end real guns that you can try at relatively cheap prices. Shopping complexes and malls are central to life in Kuwait, and the Avenues mall here is a mini city by itself. It has to be seen to be believed. The majority of the internship was during the Ramadan period. So all the eateries are closed in Kuwait from sunrise to sunset. You are not allowed to eat or drink in the public eye. This took some getting used to but since most of the time was spent in office, it was hardly noticed.
M H Alshaya
I imagine the company is unfamiliar to most of you like it was for me. So I’ll give a brief introduction. M H Alshaya is a multinational retail franchise operator of prime international brands across divisions such as Fashion & Footwear, Home Furnishing, Health & Beauty, Food etc. across Middle East & North Africa (or as we call it MENA), Eastern Europe & Russia. It generates annual revenues of around $5 billion, as of last year. It is a part of the larger Alshaya family conglomerate that has interests in real estate, automotives, technology and other investments.
M H Alshaya is diverse. In an age of high rises, Alshaya took over a wide range of warehouses and remodelled them into modern office space. Over 2500 employees work at its headquarters, so it’s rather easy to imagine its size. Division size varies, there is no predefined standard. The company provided fully furnished and serviced apartments with seaside view (read as happiness). So there are no complaints on that end. Company vehicles are there for our our travel to and from the office.
The culture of the organization varies from division to division. Some were traditional like HR, while some were non-hierarchical and open like digital marketing. The biggest selling point of working here has to be the sheer diversity of its workforce. Southeast Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Eastern and Central Europe, Western Europe, North America. There is no territory untouched, it seems. People with different skillsets and cultures, varied perspectives work together. So each day can be a great learning experience. The company is big, so the processes can seem slow at times. Bureaucracy can be expected given its size and the location of its headquarters in the middle east. But the company is modernizing rapidly, so these are exciting times to work at the company where you can help in its transformation.
The work is rather varied. They do a 3 month long annual planning and budgeting exercise of which staff cost planning is an essential component. My task was to talk to various stakeholders in this process, identify gaps in the process and make appropriate recommendations to fill in the gaps. Other interns had to do stuff like space optimisation, stock optimisation, forecasting, automation of dashboards, data visualization and statistical segmentation, catalogue of top influencers etc (basically lot of grinding on excel and ppt for most of us; R and PHP for others). Within 2 weeks of being here, we had to go through some case study, group discussion and HR tests which would form part of our assessments along with our final presentations.
Outside the Office
One major issue was food during our internship. Alshaya has Starbucks & Potbelly outlets on its campus along with a cafeteria that serves a buffet lunch from various cuisines. There are pantries in every office that serve free Starbucks coffee too. But they were closed during Ramadan period. After some initial discomfort, we got used to the change as Alshaya allowed its employees to eat their own food inside the staff canteen. This meant extra half hour effort in the morning to prepare some lunch. But it wasn’t much of a hassle as our work periods were shortened to 6 hours.
This was a great exposure to corporate lifestyle. The motto at Alshaya is ‘Think Big. Act Small. Be You.’ It was great to see this at play everyday. Apart from this, working in a team, making new friends and visiting new places were a
Scenes from the sea city and the welcome ceremony
Great experience. My greatest takeaway from my stay here was the experience of working effectively with very diverse people. Now I am counting the days left for the end of my stay and eagerly awaiting going back home to share our summer experiences amongst friends.