An Internship Experience at Agri-Tech Startup and how it converted to a PPO

PPOs are a major aspect for B-School students in securing a qualified and exclusive offer from companies that they wish to work for in the future. The idea to convert your Summer Internship into a full-fledged Placement Offer is not easy but not impossible too. This article provides a better glimpse of what one needs to keep in mind while looking to secure a PPO.

Agrigator, which is a seed-funded Agri-Tech Startup, is involved in Supply Chain and Logistics stream for providing a B2B Marketplace between the Producers and the Buyers. It was duly catering to HORECA outlets (Hotels, Restaurants, etc.) and FPIs by transporting food grains directly from Farmers and related sources, leading to a reduction in transaction costs, time, efforts, and simplifying the operations of such an unorganized system.

Keeping yourself in such a position, there are a few things that you can follow to slowly chart yourself and the learnings you receive in due course. Firstly, it is important to completely familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the concerned organization and the sector that it functions in. Usual ways include following Annual Reports, Sector-Specific News from verified sources, Online Government Resources and Databases, and interaction with Industry Experts and the employees of the organization themselves. This will build up a robust base for you to understand your line of work for your project

Next, you must continue to interact with your assigned mentor or individuals who work in the same fields/organization to also understand the core competency, relative competition, domain-specific business strategies, and business models. This will ensure you are now settled enough to understand the assigned problem statement for the project and the outcomes/metrics that will measure your performance for the same.

Post this, it is time to directly jump into your project and use your acquired knowledge and resources to design a flowchart of your activities to arrive at a solution. This will involve a preliminary plan to proceed, important parameters to focus upon, following up on previously devised industrial practices, framework analysis, and carefully constructed notes on emerging trends and developments in the industrial market.

To make things easier, communicate with various stakeholders and experts that provide a concise view on the strategic feasibility, implementation, and impacts that a step of approach creates to resolve different issues. Gradually, clarity evolves to choose the optimal way to proceed that provides or maximizes the utility of the defined outcome. Typical meetings or regular brainstorming of ideas can greatly reduce doubts and little hiccups that you encounter on the way. Therefore, don’t rush to obtaining a solution without confirmation and thorough research of facts to avoid last-minute crisis. These little things go a long way to ensure that your final presentation is well received by the majority of stakeholders that reflects the ways and values the company aligns itself to.

Last but not the least, be prepared with anticipated questions and doubts that you are likely to face regarding the work you have done, outcomes achieved and the notes on the Final Presentation you will present to the concerned officials. It is no wonder that your Presentation skills should be excellent with the concise textual matter but supporting visual reports and facts that enforce your views and looks to the proposed solutions concerning various scenarios.
Keep a cool mind and be confident. The rest is on your meticulous way to manage your time and efforts to the fullest.

Getting a PPO depends not only on how well you did, but how well you reflect your skills and knowledge to be part of the company!

About the Author:

Som Samantray, a Chemical Engineer by qualification has pursued MBA (Marketing and Data Analytics) from IIM Kashipur. He has been part of various student bodies like the Econs-Economics Club and TEDxIIMKashipur. He is a fresher and is an ardent reader of books and novels and a blogger. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

FPM Perspective-Qualitative reflections of a Quantitative Researcher

Being a civil engineer who pursued an MBA in Operations Management, followed by enrollment as an FPM student in the Operations Management area, I had always classified myself as a person who was more (or only) inclined towards quantitative research. I always recognized and was fascinated by the power of numbers.  

Then, in January 2018, We, a group of 15 research students, entered the qualitative research methods class. Some of us were excited about the qualitative aspect of research, and some were absolutely disinterested; I am ashamed to admit that I, then, belonged to the second category. I later realized that I had been keeping a blind eye towards the ‘dark’ aspect of numbers. I, in no way, wish to belittle the quantitative – orientation of research, but qualitative research is beautiful in its own way. The qualitative research articles, if well written, provide a vivid image of the phenomenon that leads the audience to discover deep meanings of human experiences.  

I now understand that a good researcher should learn about both paradigms. The qualitative and quantitative approaches have distinct and complementary strengths. Both come with a different set of challenges and require different skills to overcome those challenges. For example, as a qualitative researcher, I can always adopt a grounded perspective where I do not need to identify the dependent and independent, nor do I necessarily need to propose hypotheses. My primary responsibility as a  qualitative researcher is to capture individuals’ hidden meanings and explore the phenomena’  possibilities, but it is easier said than done. The experience is like deep-sea diving; we know we are looking for something, but we do not actually know what we are looking for.  

During this journey, I came to realize the beauty and power of text. Sometimes I can feel the ‘dryness’  associated with the numbers in quantitative articles because numbers in no way explain the human feelings that should have been captured. I now recognize and appreciate the mental and emotional strength of qualitative researchers because I believe that risks and concerns are more significant in qualitative research, mainly because of the researcher’s level of involvement with the research process and the participants.  

If I am asked to clarify my stand regarding which type of researcher I would classify myself, I will find myself in a great dilemma. I would instead argue that one should appreciate the different values which are drawn out of the two different paradigms. A researcher who has familiarized himself with both the frameworks may develop a more profound intellectual capability. Reflecting on my learnings over the past years, I can conclude that I have developed more patience, and my inclination towards sheer objectivity has reduced. I have indeed developed slight but noticeable acceptance towards subjectivity and abstraction. I have grown to realize that there will always be things that can never be measured or analyzed quantitatively.  

Today, almost three years later, my qualitative exposure surely helps me reflect on the quantitative work better. 

About the author:

Taab Ahmad Samad is currently a Ph.D. Student (Operations Management) from IIM Kashipur. He is currently working in the field of crowdsourced logistics. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Rakesh Kumar from PGP ’12 on clearing the CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) exam

APICS (The Association for Operations Management) CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) program is the only certification of its kind in the field of operations and supply chain management

PGP ’12 student, Rakesh Kumar, recently cleared CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) exam. He shared his insights on importance of CSCP and approach that is required to clear it.

1) What is APICS CSCP Program and what is its scope in today’s context?

APICS (The Association for Operations Management) CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) program is the only certification of its kind in the field of operations and supply chain management. CSCP becomes even more important with enhanced role of supply chain management in success of business in prevailing cut throat competition, changing technological and economic dynamics. Accordingly this certification or designation is subject to renewal after five years as it becomes outdated after that due to obvious reasons like change in the ecosystem, technology, etc.

CSCP program requires prior work experience of two years as eligibility criterion along with bachelors’ degree. CSCP has only one exam, which consists of three modules (listed below) each having equal weightage-

  • Supply chain management fundamentals
  • Supply chain strategy, design, and compliance
  • Implementation and operations

All these modules expose you to the essential terminology, concepts, and strategies related to demand management, supplier planning, sales and operations planning, and more.

2) Who should pursue this program? How does CSCP add value to a regular MBA?

CSCP program is essential if you want to acquire comprehensive understanding of supply chain management right from the supplier’s supplier to end customer. This program becomes very relevant if you are interested in making carrier in operations field and to be specific in supply chain consulting or ERP systems.

CSCP helps you in enhancing your knowledge and skills in the areas like risk management, sustainability, SRM, CRM, ERP, six sigma, lean production, and continuous improvement, etc. Not only that it also enables you to comprehend and compare various practices and tools against each other at one place which is not the case with regular MBA. In regular MBA the things or courses are taught or learned in fragmented manner depending up on the availability & timing of the electives. Further CSCP program exposes you to various challenges, best practices, trends and developments of supply chain industry in a consolidated manner.

3) Do you think the popularity of the CSCP is growing? If yes, what advantage do students have in placements if there are already many people having cleared CSCP exams?

Since its inception in 2006, more than 13000 professionals in 77 countries have earned APICS CSCP designation, which is pretty much an indicator of its popularity in the business world.

In India companies across various sectors like IT, FMCG, consumer durables, consulting, etc. do spend money and time to make their employees undergo this certification. Hence having CSCP certification (along with at least two years of work experience) distinguishes you as an industry expert with specialized, high level knowledge and skills. It indicates that student has an ambition to make a carrier in this particular field. Strategically speaking this gives you an edge when you are doing MBA from an IIM as after completing this certification, you will be having most sought after combination i.e. an MBA from a college like IIM and CSCP from a body like APICS.

4) How should candidates prepare for CSCP considering academic rigor in MBA?

Here is what I did/suggest –

  • When to take exam?- APICS Exam is conducted every 3 months (March, June, September, December). To leverage the exam to the max during the final placements, I decided to take the CSCP exam just after completing my summer internship and not in first year. I made the decision keeping in mind the following points:
    • Knowledge retention while facing the final interviews.
    • Extended validity of the certification after graduating, as the certification is valid for only 5 years. Taking the certification in first year would have lead to wastage of 1 year of certification during the second year of academics.
    • To be ready with the scorecard so as to include it in my profile at the onset of campus recruitment season given that it takes one month to get the score-card/result.
    • Avoid clash with academic rigor, although it’s a risky affair considering the fact that if you don’t clear the exam in 1st attempt you will have to wait till September for a retake and it will be already November by the time you will have your certification/score in hand. So one might want to consider taking this exam in March rather than in June.
  • What to study? – CSCP study material provided by APICS is a must as most of the questions are based on the concepts/ terminology mentioned in those modules. There are many useful references in these modules for those who want to study some concepts in detail. As far as the exam goes, I believe the given study material is sufficient.
  • How much to study? – Ideally two readings of APICS content is must. First reading should be done with the motive to learn in general, while the second reading should be focused towards passing the exam.

In a nutshell, a candidate should be ready to spend at least 100hrs towards the preparation. If you are taking the exam with academics in parallel then you should start at least two months before the exam so as to have a reasonable spread of the load. The week before exam is “the showdown week” where you must put in more number of hours and take as many practice tests as possible.