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Tell us about yourself?

My story is a standing testimony to the famous phrase coined by one of the greatest leader–Steve Jobs- “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

12th April 2009
Engineering College–B.Tech, Biotechnology– Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, a loyal recruiter of the college, refused to come to college for placements due to recession.

12th September 2013
MBA College–NMIMS, Mumbai– Congratulations Stuttee! You have been selected for your summer internship by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL).

Yes, we always connect the dots backwards. My engineering background justifies my interest for this company and I am glad I got the opportunity to intern with DRL. I did not know what this internship had in store for me. But the will to perform and learn propelled me to prepare well in advance before I began the internship. This was fueled by the study material provided by the company, in advance, about the overview of the industry, its practices and brief background of DRL. I was sure of one thing- The journey will be exciting and enriching.

7th April 2014- I reached Hyderabad still contemplating about the place, office, work culture, city and its climate. Little did I know, next sixty days would become one of the most memorable days of my life.

What did you do as an intern?

My journey began from ‘The Leadership Academy’ at Bachupally. First two days were devoted to induction where overview of the company, its culture, beliefs, processes, businesses and the industry was given. One of the highlights of the entire internship was the dichotomy of its structured format. I knew well in advance what to expect the next day but at the same time I had the freedom to design my own path.

My journey became more interesting as I started my project. On the third day, I was introduced to my project guide, project buddy and other teammates from the division. Within one hour, I knew exactly what was expected from the project, its relevance to the company and what was expected from me. I remember my guide saying, “There are three ways of doing a project. One in which mentor does majority of the work, second in which the project is done by both the mentor and the student and the third where the project is done by the student, mentor just guides the process. Stuttee, I believe in the third kind of internship.” These lines stayed with me till the end. I had the freedom to give wings to my project, and my guide to direct me whenever I faltered.

The project was about finding market potential for a product in a disease through doctors. There were three strong pillars of the project-
1. To learn about the disease and its treatment options
2. To find out the market potential of the drug by DRL for the disease
3. To prepare a business plan for the medication

What was your approach? How much did you learn?

Initial one week was dedicated to understanding the disease, designing the research methodology and preparing a plan for executing the project. This is when I learnt what is meant by perfection. I prepared eight drafts of ‘Research methodology’- one page overview of the project- because my project guide wanted me to gain complete clarity of the project. “It is important to know the objective of the project clearly, only then can you do it successfully” my guide said. Even though I felt uneasy preparing drafts, I knew it is the most important step of my project. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

The project was challenging because there was very less secondary data available about the disease and its study in India. Much of the understanding of the project was dependent on primary research – meeting doctors and trying to understand the journey of the patient, treatment options and analyzing the incidence of the disease in India. This was the first time I was about to do primary research. The first day on field (9:00 AM), as I stepped in the first hospital, I got to know the doctor would be available in the evening. I waited for 10 hours for her to finish all her patients and as soon as she got free, I managed the courage to walk up to her cabin.

“Excuse me ma’am, I am a student and I am here to talk to you about a disease…,” as I started to speak. Before I could complete, she shouted, “I do not support any research. Please don’t waste my time”. I tried to convince her a lot but all in vain. I returned back thinking may be the next day will be better. But it was no different. Slowly after observing doctors, medical representatives from different companies and with little direction from my buddy, I learnt the tricks of the trade. I was adamant, persistent and unnerving. I knew it was important for me to learn this quality of sales- to be able to take rejection in right spirit and never lose patience.

After interviewing about 100 doctors in three cities- Delhi & NCR, Mumbai, and Chandigarh, today I feel confident that I can strike a conversation with anyone and get the information I want. This was the biggest learning from my internship. Constant encouragement from my guide and support from my buddy helped me continue my journey effectively. Review meetings, re-reviews and intermittent discussion ensured that the project was going in the right direction.

After primary research, I devoted one week to consolidate and analyse the data. Since the potential of the medication was huge, as estimated, I analysed the external factors which necessitates DRL to venture into this field and forecasted the future scope of the same. I also added more dimensions to the project through competitive bench marking, analyzing the distribution and promotional strategies of the medication and designed the Go- to market strategy.

Once I presented the analysis to my project guide, his questions left me dumbfounded .Even though I thought I had worked a lot for the project, I realised the loopholes in my analysis. He taught me the importance and tricks of presentation, reported my weaknesses, applauded my strengths and brought out the best in me. His reviews were so helpful and encouraging, that even though I had to make eleven versions of my final presentation I did not blink an eye. Yes, I can say I endeavored to reach perfection. My presentation finally had a proper structure, and clear deliverable for all the objectives. My recommendations were well appreciated.

31st May 2014– The day of my final presentation. HR head, Global Generics India head, Division heads and all the managers and leaders were present to witness and judge our work. I stood there, feeling proud of the moment, the last milestone of my journey staring at me; it was time to prove. With confidence and poise, I looked straight into the eyes of the elite jury and began- “Good morning. I am stuttee Arora from…”

Some stories don’t end, because they are still just dots connecting one another to form the story of our lives. This internship was another dot perhaps leading to a new phase of my life.