What I gained from SP Jain’s Industry Interface Projects – An Interview with Manoj Babu Vegi (GMBA 2020)

Industry Interface Projects are an integral part of the postgraduate experience at SP Jain. Over the years, SP Jain has partnered with multiple companies across the globe for these projects, with our students working as their consultants, finding actionable solutions for real-life business challenges.

What has the student experience been like while working on these projects in the world’s leading business capitals? Find out in a recent interview with GMBA alumnus Manoj Babu Vegi (Senior Manager – Service Operations, Aditya Birla Capital).

Q. What was your experience like during the Global Immersion Project in Dubai?

Manoj: During our Term 1 in Dubai, we worked on a Global Immersion Project (self-directed project), where we were required to research an existing business problem in the UAE (preferably Dubai), analyse data, and provide recommendations accordingly. I have a great inclination towards organic farming and healthy eating and so, I chose to conduct my research on an organic e-retailer (Organic & Real.com).

Having a self-directed project like this in Term 1 played a big role in pushing me out of my comfort zone. I had to reach out to the client myself, get appointments, understand their business, and find out how I could help them. Writing a research paper was not something most of us had done beforehand. For the first time, I was conducting market research, approaching strangers for surveys, conducting observation analysis in shopping malls, using statistical analysis tools, and also writing a research paper. Dr Shital Vakhariya (Sr. Manager -Industry Interface Projects – Dubai), and Ms Krishna Priya (Manager – Industry Interface Projects – Dubai) was terrific support for us throughout the project. With her help, I could also meet industry scholars and get inputs on organic farming in Dubai. During this project, I got to learn a lot about the business practices of Dubai.

The beauty of this self-project is that you get to explore the market you like and it helps a lot in breaking the initial inhibitions.

Q. What was your Term 2 project in Sydney like?

Manoj: In Sydney, our client was Greenstone Financial Services (GFS), a leading financial aggregator. We got the opportunity to work with the CIO of the company, Mr Sanjeev Gupta. We were quite elated to know that, if done well, this industry project could make a great difference for GFS. The scope of the project was market and product expansion. Australia is quite a different and interesting market to research on, and our academic mentor,  Dr Nicholas Hamelin, helped us a lot with the research. The population is quite scattered and work-life balance is highly prioritised. This project helped me understand how much work cultures, choices, and preferences could differ from region to region. This is a project where you get to work with great minds (In my case, these were my peers – Kunal Golani, Ashwani Thawani, Upasana Thapar, Nikhhil Agarwal, and Zubin Moidu). An amalgamation of such minds often invites healthy discussions and results in new and creative solutions. Project Management is a crucial key to yield great results in such cases.

Q. What unique learning experiences did you have during Term 3 in Singapore?

Manoj: During Term 3, we worked on a team project with DELL Technologies, Singapore. Our industry mentor, Mr Sandeep Bhuyan (Global Commodity Manager, DELL), was very helpful in accommodating all our queries related to the SSD industry and giving us the required freedom for doing our research. Our academic mentors, Dr Rajiv Aserkar (Professor & Head of Logistics and Supply Chain), Ms Dorrin Uma (Academic Manager – Global Logistics & Supply Chain Management), and Ms Sanjukta Srivastava (Deputy Director – GIP, SP Jain) helped us understand the business culture and work practices in Singapore. Inputs from both our mentors helped us in completing our research and providing quality recommendations to the client.

 Q. How do you think the Industry Interface Projects added value to your SP Jain experience?

Manoj: Industry Interface Projects (IIP) are one of the best things that happened to me at SP Jain. The projects are structured in such a way that the learning from one term’s project will add value to the next one. They give us an opportunity to understand the market better, work with corporate clients, work with some wonderful brains, build new contacts, and learn a lot about business. I come from an IT background and for someone like me who is generally associated with coding, these IIPs come to the rescue. Working on these projects has given me a chance to explore the business side and apply my MBA concepts in real time. I am frequently asked by industry colleagues to speak about these projects. Doing these projects in the 3 top business cities of the world has also enhanced my CV and often grabs the attention of interviewers.

The availability of academic mentors at SPJ is also a big boon. They are always available and approachable, and this truly helps in addressing the bottlenecks at an early stage. The format of working with students from different specialisations is a great idea as everyone has a different perspective towards the same problem and we then tend to look at the problem with a 360-degree approach.

Q. What tips would you like to share with the future students who are preparing for their IIPs?

Manoj: One thing that would always help students is to research about the city in which they would be doing their next project. It helps gain some insights about the demographics and certain other areas. The corporate client and the respective project information are provided to the students by the academic mentors beforehand. Students could use this time to research the company and the topic before the first corporate meetup. I would suggest students utilise the availability of the academic mentors at SP Jain. They have rich experience in handling these projects and their inputs are always of great help!

Q. What kind of skill set students should develop to work effectively on these projects?

Manoj: Data analytical capability, mindful Listening and presentation skills would be some essential skills that would help the students a lot in these projects.

Wish to learn more about the Industry Interface Projects at SP Jain? Get an overview: https://youtu.be/jBEdakDusLM

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