Gayatri Dowarah exudes confidence as she sits in the well-lit PepsiCo cafeteria in Gurugram. The 24-year-old is a recent graduate from IIM Indore and has been working with the FMCG giant since July, last year. Having interned with the same company a year before, Dowarah did not have to consider another option because the work culture at PepsiCo made her feel welcome and gave her opportunities to grow.
In the nine months that Dowarah has spent in PepsiCo, she has already handled multiple roles. “As a management trainee, we spend the first 18 months in various stints. This helps us to learn about different roles, an overall view of the company and also helps us find what our key competencies are,” adds Dowarah, who has already worked through stints in sales and supply chain, and is currently with the marketing team.
Learning on the role
In 2017, for her two-month internship, Dowarah handled marketing for Doritos – the flavoured tortilla chips brand which was being launched. Contrary to the popular belief of interns fetching coffee and print outs, she was given the responsibility of organizing the launch conferences in six cities and all the communication for the product launch.
“When I joined as an intern, I remember wondering what kind of opportunities I will get. But PepsiCo made me hit the ground running. We had a three member team and while we did get a guide and a mentor, it was still a lot of responsibilities, which I don’t think I would have got otherwise,” adds Dowarah.
As an employee on the payrolls, Dowarah also has an informal buddy – assigned to her during the initial weeks. While the buddy helps her with everyday queries, getting to know colleagues and the office itself, for any work related doubts she can reach out to anyone – the open door policy ensures that freshers can actually ask for help from whoever is available, even if their manager is not around.
The two-day orientation for Dowarah focused on doing a deep dive into the business since she already had a preliminary idea of how the company works from her internship days. Inductions are different for freshers, interns and lateral-entry hires though – almost tailor-made to suit their roles. But while the orientation lectures can introduce the roles to the freshers, for better understanding and learning opportunities, they usually log on to the PepsiCo university. Dowarah, for example, used it extensively during her first sales stint where she was asked to manage a group of 30 people – all older than her. “While I knew my work, managing people was a new challenge. I took a few courses from the PepsiCo University on handling such roles. And that made me more confident about doing my job,” she puts in.
Some work, some play
The constant communication between various teams that Dowarah handles also is reflective of the no-silos culture that PepsiCo seeks to build and promote. On any given day, she can be seen talking to the R&D team, the trade marketing and sales teams as well as internal stakeholders among others. “This is one big difference between my previous stint in sales and present one in marketing. In sales, I knew how the entire day would go. For marketing, it’s mostly working on your toes and managing different things at the same time,” explains Dowarah.
Did she think it would be like this before stepping into the office herself? Like most students, Dowarah’s notions about the corporate world came from her college discussions. During her marketing stint, for example, she was responsible for the visual communication of a certain Lay’s brand. However, once she went into the market, she realized that a lot of stores didn’t have places to put up the posters designed for the campaign. “I had to adapt those posters to elements that could be hung . So while the basic training that I got in college remained the same, I had to tweak it for the situation itself,” she says.
The HR team also makes sure that freshers do not feel overwhelmed with work. During the orientation, there were harmless pranks, which built a bond between them – making it easier for the new employees to relax as well as reach out to the HR for any query. Along with that the various events, sports days and festival celebrations that are organized for employees all year round helps employees feel more connected to their colleagues – sometimes even those they have never met due to geographical constraints. Dowarah has already been involved in organizing one such cricket tournament for employees in Maharashtra.
“I have been pleasantly surprised here, because everyone is so open and approachable. We are also encouraged to pitch and implement ideas, ask questions. My suggestion for anyone joining the corporate world would be to voice your opinion and be heard,” she signs off.
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