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.

A 2400-year-old HR Theory that Builds Empires

When we talk about the origins of modern management theory, we often start the curve from F.W. Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, authored about a century ago in 1909.

The evolution of the practice of managing people since then has gone through various stages, from Labour Welfare to a more organized form called Personnel Management, then to Human Resource Management, and now, to ever-complex, empathetic, and most-strategic People Management.

Managing human resources or people is mainly based on the edifice of motivation, the stimulus you provide to a person for doing a particular job, and staying loyal to you.

This simple-to-use yet hard-to-master concept of Motivation is utilized in all organizations today, by taking inspiration from various motivation theories, Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory (1943) being the most popular of them all.

Now, what if I tell you that there’s a centuries-old management theory that not just discusses the concept of Employee Motivation but also structures a complete HR cycle. This theory was authored about 2400 years ago (yes you read that right!). It holds its relevance even today – and will probably continue to do so forever. The theory is given by India’s pride Chanakya, one of the most advanced and brightest minds known to have ever existed. The theory is:

Sama – Dana – Danda – Bheda

Most of us might have heard this string of words plenty of times before but never really knew what it meant.

It means, 

Collaboration – Reward – Punishment – Separation: The entire HR cycle summed up in 4 words

Here is a short description of each of these four “Upayas”: –

Sama ~ Collaboration: It implies finding the right person for the right job and then ensuring a mutual win-win situation by aligning his or her individual goals with the organizational goals. The employer must make sure that every person in the organization feels like an integral part of the larger team. An efficacious collaboration requires attentive listening. If a person feels that he is understood by the people around him, his problems have ears, and his struggles have supporters, then he will be there for you when you would need him the most. This is the foundation stone of every relationship and any cracks left unfilled during this process can vandalize the whole ecosystem in the future.

Dana ~ Reward: At the end of the day, all conversations boil down to this – the monetary and non-monetary compensations one receives in return for loyal services to an organization. Salary, bonus, increment, promotion, wellness benefits, medical insurance, housing facilities, vehicle, stock options, personal assistant, etc – everything forms a part of Rewards and Benefits. It goes without saying that an underpaid employee would never work to his full potential. Interestingly, studies suggest that even an overpaid employee is a complacent liability for the company. So, it becomes crucial for HR to strike a healthy balance when it comes to Rewards & Benefits of the workforce.

Danda ~ Punishment: Now this serves as a discipline wand, a motivator but of negative nature. While the high-performing employee enjoys the reward, the low-performing faces the brunt of the management in terms of verbal backlash, pay-cuts, demotions, or even expulsion. In every organization, performance appraisals reveal a bell curve of employees’ distribution, where 70% of them are found to be average performers. Fear of Danda ensures that these employees do not deviate towards the category of Non-Performers and continue to match the outcomes with expectations.

Bheda ~ Separation: This involves parting with an employee in the form of voluntary or involuntary retirement, resignation, or expulsion. It is rightly said that change is the only constant. The people, whether you like, love or hate it, cannot work for you forever. They will leave you when a better personal or professional opportunity comes across their way. For HR, it is important to take this pragmatically and ensure that the HR cycle keeps on running smoothly by not shying away to collaborate with new people and focusing a great deal on their training and development.

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These words of wisdom that continue to guide people-managers are the doctrines that helped Chandragupta Maurya build his enormous empire in 300BC. Even today, with the right essence and execution, these can empower each one of us in building our own!

– Savinay Goel (MBA Batch 2020–22)