One of India’s leading FMCG companies, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB), recently went digital to accommodate around 30 interns from the leading B-Schools of the country amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian wing of American multinational beverage corporation tweaked its internship programme to fulfil its promise at a time when many organizations in the country have revoked their internship programmes due to logistical reasons.
As Mr. Indrajeet Sengupta, Executive Director & Chief Human Resources Officer, HCCB puts it, “The pandemic seemed to have arrived to play spoilsport but we at HCCB decided to keep our promise by going fully digital! It was not only about living up to our values but also about their careers. But most importantly, we did not want to compromise with the quality of our programme that we have so diligently designed and developed. Doing the right thing matters to us.”
HCCB’s unique virtual summer internship programme encompasses on-the-job training, working on a real business problem, finding an end-to-end solution through online classes, interactions with senior leadership teams, online mentoring, data analysis, and project reviews. The online module of the internship also meant that the company had to make arrangements for providing access to company’s data and database while also ensuring security of the systems, data and devices.
This one-of-its-kind programme has been designed and executed to ensure a seamless transition for the interns from college to the corporate world, without visiting the workplace or meeting anyone in person. Here, the young graduates have the chance to engage with the leadership team at regular intervals including the CEO of HCCB, Christina Ruggiero. The virtual experience allows interns to seek clarifications from the leadership at any time of the day who are all ears to them during this process.
With the markets being shut, production at factories being halted and only select depots and distributors being operational at the start of the internship program, HCCB has customized its modules while ensuring a holistic internship programme that merits the learning experience at one of India’s top FMCG companies. For the interns, the detailed groundwork for analyzing the market was done using secondary research data. Regular reviews took place by project guides for fine tuning the outcomes, reports and recommendations.
The important lesson that interns got to learn from their experiences at HCCB was adapting to adversity, being flexible, and trying to control only what is under one’s control. For most interns here, their computer screens became a “home inside their homes” as they got an opportunity to interact with the leadership team and bond with each other online, thus instilling a sense of belonging.