AbInBev (Operations Intern) – Nithin Kumar

“Time is traffic in Bangalore” – a co passenger in your typical Uber pool ride after missing your convenient company transport. There maybe enough reasons to sulk if it were a Monday morning but it’s a Friday afternoon and the Junoesque weather is so beautiful that it can make you forget the ways you would punish the auto rickshaw cult (having their life clock dependent on the meter was one in hindsight). The previous conversation obviously started with “The weather in Bangalore is as amazing as the traffic” (pro tip: Best conversation starter) and now these techie folks are “mphasizing” on ways to solve network traffic. Times like this where traffic can make your network as slow as Google’s TRex force you to stare at the clouds for inspiration. Thankfully I’ve found a really wonderful piece with an amazing prologue centered on my roots, It has satisfied and inspired me enough to finally put things down and maybe end your search for… (A me(h)ta level hint if you want to appreciate the above article the same way I did: Too meta) 

The lights of UB City and other tech parks are those small relaxing pleasures after work
The two things I love and hate about Bangalore: Autos and Gulmohars

Hey folks! I hope I can contribute, even though you may not feel the same if you are still here.

I am currently interning with Anheuser-Busch In Bev or ABI if you want to avoid failing the test of getting the name right and also delay the embarrassment on your first day. If you haven’t googled already, AB Inbev is your typical MNC which has everything to do with beer (Corona, Hoegaarden, Budweiser etc.). They are considered one of the largest “Fast Moving” Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in the world. They are also a company who have made their Global Capabilities Center (GCC) in an SEZ ( Special economic zone)where alcohol is strictly prohibited. It also has a GAC (Global Analytics Centre) where some interns have been posted. 

If you want to know the difference, please read last year’s article by Amey which I can only wish that I do justice. Keep in mind that the coming views are of a single intern who still has three weeks left to wrap up things.

The “Sorting”

So personally, I’d done a market research intern in my second year summers, which I found to be an extremely interesting and satisfying experience. Like all things in life when you find your comfort zone, I was rather more inclined towards getting a finance internship from the beginning. On paper I could have had a good resume and could have been shortlisted in most of the firms before Abinbev. But as these things go, Abinbev was the first company I was shortlisted in and I learnt it the hard way how subtle things like the way you present your resume matter when you are being “short”listed. It’s never a bad idea to take help from people who are either experienced or good at presenting things. Well this is all you can do till you get shortlisted. So please don’t neglect this and spend time on your resume. 

So on to the actual process. Please bear in mind that the process  in the previous year, which was the first time ABI had come for internships, was very different from the process in our year. We had to submit a video with an introduction and our motivation. This did not matter much as the video I submitted was as bad as the entire character development of Jaime Lannister; definitely worth erasing out of existence. There is a standard presentation that happened on an early September (1st) Saturday (sidenote: we got diaries for attending it) and we had a test immediately after the presentation. The test had two sections of coding and aptitude,  and there really isn’t all that much prep that is required as the coding test was pretty much like a CS 101 graded lab and the aptitude is something you don’t need to prepare. Well, maybe giving multiple tests for practice will help. The interviews were on the next day.

This was my first interview unlike others in the large shortlist. There were two panels who were taking interviews. The first panel had people who were testing basic statistics like T Functions etc.,  and then there was my panel. I was quickly scrolling through the very reliable “Sheldon” Ross when I was called in to a booming hello by the same person Maninder who had given the presentation. Interesting is the least word I could use for what followed as I was asked about my motivation (please don’t answer alcohol), weaknesses, and then I was asked to rate and analyze the presentation which the said highly experienced interviewer had given. Like every undergraduate, I  was maybe good at picking faults and this was not the only place it turned out to be helpful. So please avoid sleeping in the presentation. The entire interview was focused on having a comfortable chat more than an interview and things went way too comfortable when we were matching the things I mentioned in my resume to the projects they had in mind. I had some experience in visualization and finance, which led us to settle on a finance project based on the pricing of beer. Cheers! End of my troubles in 15 minutes (It might’ve been shorter).

The Eagle of Good Times

I have a pear in my hand, which are being distributed as part of the healthy propaganda of Yoga and fitness which our government is championing and this has got me thinking that an internship with ABInBev has a lot of perks. The stipend is one of the higher ones you can expect with additional funds to finance your first week of accommodation and travel. I had been mapped to GCC and there were a couple of video calls which were done to answer our questions and solve our doubts. We were supposed to receive our project charters in these calls but due to the fact that we were 60 interns with 16 from our institute alone we ended up receiving our project guides at least on the first day. Most of us got our project charters which were defined to a varying degree after the day long induction. The induction was amazing in the start (we had designated seats! :D) and I would like to leave it there. 

My humble office desk (notice the live screening of the world cup match in the corner)
The bar inside the office (don’t worry the bottles are filled with water and maybe that water tastes bad)
That’s enough insight (you may use the classified content in those dashboards)
Intern “swag” bags included some useful stuff like a bottle opener and a beer mug
Office decorations as part of the world cup (we had a bleed blue dress code on India’s match days)

To give some background about GCC,  it is a support office where most of the capabilities of all the global divisions are handled. Capabilities range from finance,operations, IT, security, operations, automation and a myriad range of support which an FMCG major might need. The culture of ABI promotes a corporate work environment with a fair share of fun. It would be despicable if I don’t expand on the fun as I lucked out by having three guides from two departments which meant that I had double the merry. Five treats (please do not reveal your age if you are underage like me), 4 fun fridays with double the dose of high spirits which ranged from lemon spoon twin (two people had to wear matching clothes) races to food competitions, World Cup frenzy, amazing competitions between two towers (basically how things are divided here) which included people dancing and acting (you guessed it right) drunk,…… I can’t complain on the workplace fun part.

The command center team after a cool ice cream treat on a pleasant evening
Eid celebrations had us forced into traditional wear (some argue that this is the crucial factor for a PPO)

Impromptu Scrabble games
Top dog eating competition
“Pondicherry has nice cafes” – a friend

Indian Pale Ale’ment

Interesting conversations which the company promotes will lead you to stuff like this:

There are two types of people in this world:

  1. Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

The very first thing you might’ve observed in the heading is that it says I am an operations intern which may give you a hint about how my dreams of having a finance intern might’ve ended. Like the ending of Avengers and everything good in life there will exist an ending like Game of Thrones. (You can expect twists in this third act)

My current project is to improve the collections on time percentage and increase the working capital which is the money a company can actually use. To put this into perspective ABI sells beer, bottles, coasters, etc. , something as bizarre as milk, and it even provides rents to bars but doesn’t take back the money on time. It instead counters this by doing even more sales. This finally raised concerns among the top brass which also means Serge de Vos,  who is the top boss in GCC, has a special interest in my project. The project seemed challenging and satisfied me initially but as are things, there are four interns who are working to counter the same problem albeit with different approaches. There’s predicting invoices which will be delayed using ML, trying to use risk analytics to reduce defaulters, predicting mistakes which can arise in our process etc and then there is mine where I have to directly drive changes in our current process after identifying the major defaulters. Not surprisingly and surprisingly Heineken who buys from ABI is in the books as a defaulter. 

To make my life easier I have been mapped to UK collections where I have been analyzing and driving changes that can be scaled across all divisions. This also means my work shift is from 12 p.m. to roughly 9:30 p.m. to coordinate with UK time. (An intern has a shift from 4 – midnight). These timings are as flexible as the dress code. A five day workweek does not leave much to crib when you hear your friends in other interns work on Sunday’s as well. In multiple aspects GCC is similar to a multinational startup which has all the problems associated with a startup which has had the brilliant idea to maybe use analytics like the other major competitors – Data is just two years old, multiple places where there are no set practices and routines, really old enterprise resource management and multiple problems associated with the volumes of data this company deals in. This company also follows an open office layout where you can walk up to anyone and ask for help. This is only if they are available as you can see multiple instances of people involved in day long meetings so as to streamline with global business requirements. (My own guides aren’t available now which is how I managed to write such a long article) 

This firm is a true multinational company where you constantly will interact with a lot of foreign nationals (who are very good at  every social skill under the sun) and learn the subtle ways of how culture influences work. My sponsor Michal (pronounced Mi – haal) for example is from the Netherlands. (His wink ™  and a quick smile style of leadership is just one of the things you can pick up). The corporate experience here is something which will definitely leave you divided. A lot of stress and time is put on presenting things so that you can explain to the business and coordinate. We have weekly presentations and a mid term review which has people from the top brass reviewing your performance. Inshort: There are too many factors involved before you judge a company so it would be naive to predict or have expectations.

To Be (h)er(e) or not to be (h)er(e)

The very first question I was asked after my review was the challenges I faced . One may extrapolate the number of challenges which I had cribbed but the surprising thing was that the committee liked the fact that I had thought and handled things. This company believes in ownership and the very fact that I cared enough to have a problem apparently is a true sign of ownership. 

So a couple of things before I lose my patience as I am done with my pear.  A lot of experiences will come in “pears”. Quoting my ever amazing guide here – “If you look for the light you’ll find it. But if you look for darkness that is all you’ll ever see. “. While it is always best to believe in one’s self, a little help from others can be a great blessing. The interactions with other interns always helped and sometimes the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else. A major part of my solution that I am proposing came from an impromptu  idea while helping another intern. To end things just remember that life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not. Don’t let all your plans get in the way of your journey.

2 years ago