We had the opportunity to catch up with Kishan Jani (DD-ED ’17) who is currently placed in ITC, India’s largest FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company. He speaks about his placement preparation and experience, the selection process and his work at ITC so far and the steep learning curve it offers in multiple roles.
1.How was your placement experience?
The placement days were as much grueling as the process can be throughout the semester, with continuous tests and interview preparation. I still cherish my placement semester and the ups and downs faced during that time. Making tons of resume drafts, solving puzzles, late night and early morning tests, preparing for interviews overnight. Our wing actually came up with a trend to celebrate every time when we don’t get shortlisted for interviews to keep us motivated. When I look back, those were some hectic but exciting days.
2.Tell us about your personal interviews?
I had only shortlist for one company, ITC in Day-1.1 (first day first slot) and fortunately, I could convert it. The selection process involved a group discussion and 2 interviews:
Group Discussion: They gave a plane crash scene on an island. We had 15 items and 8 survivors (GD group). Task was to rank the items in the order of importance, first individually and then discuss in group to rank it again. My strategy was to try to convince other members why your ranking is more accurate based on rational arguments.
1st round of interview (Tech + HR): It was around 45 minutes long. I was mostly grilled on resume projects and internships. I had couple of onsite/factory experiences that caught their attention. They also asked my favorite engineering subject and grilled me in detail about it. Some of the questions I remember, Ductile, Brittle materials? Methods to identify them, Failure theories, how materials fail?, What is CMM?
2nd Round Interview: This was around 20-30 mins. Again asked on some projects and my inclination towards working in a factory. They asked about my Final Year Project(DDP). I had another company’s offer so they asked why ITC over that? A takeaway from this: Conversational skills doesn’t matter much, your ability to communicate resume point matters.
3.How important are Positions of Responsibility, CGPA, and extra-curricular activities?
PORs: They are a must in case you are looking for consult roles. Even ITC gives weightage to PORs while shortlisting resumes and if you were a Core or in Executive wing, there are chances that your interview can revolve around it. But I felt majority of companies in placements didn’t give importance to PORs. In my resume, POR section was weakest and still it didn’t matter much.
CGPA: Well, again ITC has around 40% weightage assigned to CGPA while resume shortlisting. It does matter in most of the companies as well. I would consider CG above 8 will keep you in a safe zone. That being said, lot depends on your confidence & attitude in the interview. If you can convince the interviewer that your caliber is well above your CG, you are good to go!
Extra-curricular Activities: Good to have in your resume. But I feel they are mostly fillers unless you have exceptional one’s
4.Why did you choose this area of work?
I had an obsession towards Operation Research & Supply Chain Management, in fact I even did my DDP in Operations Research. I was looking for an operations role in an FMCG as you get to learn these things more there. ITC, being one of the highest paying FMCG was an obvious choice.
5.Job profiles offered by ITC?
ITC assigns roles across different verticals based on your profile and interest. Ranging from roles like running a factory(Operations) to setting up one(Projects)! Other roles can be New Business Development (Startup kind of role), Marketing role, Supply Chain and Process excellence.
6.What does your work involve doing?
I am working with integrated Agri Business Division (iABD) in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. First project assigned to me is to conduct a Market Research on a new vertical, ITC is thinking to venture. It is related to food testing and I have to come up with a preliminary strategy to enter into the market. Basically, I am evaluating a new business in its seed-stage by analyzing the 3 Cs: Customer, Competition, and Costs of Business.
7.How has your perception of ITC change from before the placement to within the company?
Two things that have changed:
- My impression of work culture. I used to think that ITC being a 100-years old company will have a rigid hierarchical work culture. But to my surprise, approachability across the hierarchy, at least in my Division, is truly amazing! I can access my Divisional CEO, as well as VPs at any time.
- My conception about work dominating my personal growth. ITC invests a lot on development on their employees. 4 months into the company, I have regular forwards about conferences and summits from my guide, encouraging me to participate in them. Even company spends for different certifications like Six Sigma.
8.What has your experience at ITC been like?
Starting from induction to till date, the 6-day a week is hectic but very gripping. I have traveled for more than 2 months, visiting factories, meeting numerous people.
People give a lot of respect to the IIT Tag. They take you very seriously even though you don’t really have much of the work experience. There are lot of IITians in ITC working on different projects. This creates a nice work environment to grow in!
9.What does ITC look for in its potential employees?
ITC looks for a resume having a decent overall performance (Academics, Projects, PORs, Sports, Internships). Good core fundaes and ability to manage & lead a team could make you a very strong candidate. Interviews are very friendly events, just try to be calm and confident.
10.What advice would you give to students sitting for placements?
With respect to ITC process: Be very confident and reason out every argument you put in the Group Discussion. Be thorough with your resume and some basic HR questions. Use diagrams to explain your projects during the interview.
In General: Group of friends preparing together can be a good idea. You could organize GDs among yourselves, take internal interviews, solve puzzles together, and motivate each other during placements. Students tend to make a very big deal out of placements, while in reality it’s just a phase. All of us have come a long way and few company rejections are not going to characterize anyone! After day 2 or 3, students start losing their patience and often stop applying to walk-ins. Please don’t do that, hang in there! Placements gets more and more random with time.
Authors: Priyanka Joshi (DD-ED ’21) & Vineet Gopakumar (BT-CH ’19)