Career Series – Nidhi Gupta: P&G – A sneak peek into FMCG

As a part of our on-going Career Series, we are covering the experiences of several recent alumni who joined various companies and universities after their stay at IIT Bombay. If you are interested in contributing a piece, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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Nidhi Gupta
Looking two years back, I clearly remember myself being quite clueless about what I wanted to do in life, which job would be better for me, which one would I enjoy and numerous other questions when placement conversations started dominating the mess tables. Well, it’s not as if I have had an epiphany now. I believe its a gradual process. At the same time, writing anything close to ‘dos & don’ts’ for placements is quite difficult, because there is no single super formula that works universally. Its very individual specific – your interests, your career, your priorities, your likes etc.

Before starting off, I’d like to give you a brief background about myself. I graduated from Mechanical Engineering (CIM, Dual Degree) batch of 2008-13 and got recruited by Procter & Gamble through Campus Placements. Its been close to a year and a half working with P&G. I had done internships in diverse backgrounds when trying to to build a profile (core, non-core, social, foreign etc)

When preparing for placements, you had the option of pursuing higher education as well. Why did you opt for a job?

There are generally two options – Job or Further Studies (MBA/MS/PhD) and add the third these days – Start-ups 🙂

I had clearly ruled out PhD because I don’t have the aptitude for research and I didn’t have a very strong interest in a particular field to pursue an MS. As far as MBA is concerned, I was convinced that it made more sense to pursue it after some professional experience. I wanted to give myself more time to have clarity as to what to expect from MBA before blindly getting into one of the B-Schools and then asking myself the exact same question which I had asked two years back.

And about start-ups, I frankly never gave it a thought. So in the end it was about getting a good job.

Being a DD is super helpful! All the B.tech friends just turn in to help us with all the trivial little doubts which I would have thought twice before bombarding a senior with those questions.

Why specifically P&G? (Why not a job in a core company or any other IB/consult?)

Being a DD is super helpful! All the B.tech friends just turn in to help us with all the trivial little doubts which I would have thought twice before bombarding a senior with those questions.

I didn’t know what exactly I wanted. Out of the infinite things that placements offer to choose from, all I could safely decide for myself was that I didn’t want to code. After attending almost all company PPT’s, buddy talks, talking to friends & seniors, and more fundae here and there, I unconsciously made a list of companies that I would ‘target’. However this list had practically everything under the sun (minus software)- consult, FMCG, O&G, banks etc etc. So yes, I didn’t quite have a clear idea where I wanted to go.

As the shortlists were out for various companies, with whatever information I had I prioritized my prep around the requirements for the companies which I really wanted to work at. I was targeting consults while simultaneously preparing for others. So as is evident, P&G was my second choice.

So coming back, the profile ‘is’ quite techno-managerial. Common sense, in-depth understanding of end-to-end processes(which happens over a period), ability to ask right questions and keeping an open learning attitude is all what is needed.

What has your work profile been like?

The first thing that struck me with P&G profile was the word – techno-managerial. I (and many of us too, I think) thought it to be kinda cool since it matched with what I think I wanted during the placement phase – as little core a.k.a tech as possible and as much non-core a.k.a managerial work as possible (minus coding).

P&G doesn’t just look for exceptional academic credentials. They have quite a unique hiring procedure. The psychometric tests, the interviews are all designed in a way to recruit the person that would best fit in their culture and at the same time help their business grow (whoa!).

So coming back, the profile ‘is’ quite techno-managerial. Common sense, in-depth understanding of end-to-end processes(which happens over a period), ability to ask right questions and keeping an open learning attitude is all what is needed.

There is no specific training program right at the beginning as the company believes in learning while doing. The role for which P&G recruits from campus is basically Engineering or Operations. However, there are opportunities beyond this after completing a couple of assignments.

Putting it simply, the differences between the two profiles are:

1. Engineering(is a very wide term)- It involves projects undertaking new technology initiatives, capacity expansion, automation, savings, productivity etc.

2. Operations – It’s like running a manufacturing plant (a part of it obviously). Meeting production requirements, troubleshooting shop-floor breakdowns etc.

There is no choice offered in the first assignment and it gets decided based on the company’s requirements and the individual’s profile.

How is the work culture like at P&G?

I work at the Blades & Razors (Gillette) site. It was earlier a separate company prior to its merger with P&G in 2005. I have had the opportunity to visit other sites and can say that the Gillette site is definitely unique in itself.

It is a very mature organization. There are technical experts who have been working in this field for more than 25 years. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm and drive among the technicians towards their work. Post merger, the site is undergoing some very significant changes, and it is interesting to see such changes live.

There are good & bad days. There are arguments. Total mismatch in working styles. Feel a bit lost sometimes in the myriad of things happening at workplace. But in the end it’s the experience that counts. And, it is good.

There are good & bad days. There are arguments. Total mismatch in working styles. Feel a bit lost sometimes in the myriad of things happening at workplace. But in the end it’s the experience that counts. And, it is good.

The most important aspect of working at a manufacturing site is that one is able to physically see the results of efforts put into the work. This feeling itself is quite good

Do you have any specific advice that you would like to offer to students sitting for Placements this year?

  • Campus Placement is just the first of the many things to happen in your entire 30-40 year career.
  • Plan a career not just your first job. Career planning is not an overnight thing. Learn at every stage.
  • Take risks and believe in yourself. You will learn few things about yourself/others the hard way. Embrace changes
  • There is no dearth of fundae. Just be smart enough to filter the right stuff.
  • Don’t Ctrl-C Ctrl-V career paths of others. Each individual is different. Make yourself unique.
  • The most unexpected things will/might happen, accept it and move on.
  • Challenge yourself regularly and move out of complacency.
  • And very important – Keep Calm & Party Hard 😀

Hindustan Unilever Limited, ITC, Schlumberger, Reckitt Benckiser, Shell and several other companies also recruit students from IIT Bombay regularly. Keep following Insight for more interviews written by alumni working in different sectors.