“Congratulations! You have been selected as Management Trainee for the year ……..”
Finally!! After 18 years of education and some corporate experience, I was all set to become a ‘Management’ Trainee. I chalked a simple yet beautiful plan on how I am going to spend my days: Go to the office, get day’s work aligned with the line manager, socialize at the tea corner, do my work, give updates to line manager and in the evening come back home (In between, the line manager would have training sessions with me so to prepare me for the future!).
What actually happened was …. even more beautiful.
The day me and my fellow MTs joined RB Pakistan, we were handed over our tickets for a ‘Tour De Pakistan’: a program designed to make us work with our sales staff in the market and learn first hand the tricks of trade. We were shocked. Most of us had never left urban centres. The idea of us going to towns, both small and large, across Pakistan and working as Order Bookers (OBs) and Deliverymen (DMs) made us think of the whole plan as an effort to alienate us from the organization. But as we moved from city to city, from role to role, it became evident that this tour would be the most important part of our training.
Our first rotation was in Karachi, the largest Metro town in Pakistan. The idea was to understand the trade dynamics and how the biggest seaport affected the business nationally. The routine was difficult: reaching the distribution early and attending the thunderous morning meeting which ranged from being motivating to being threatening depending upon achievement of monthly targets. After the meeting, we used to accompany OBs and DMs to the market and spend the whole day in blazing heat in an effort to move towards achievement of our targets.
The stint at Karachi was followed by a trip to Multan: a tier 2 metro town. Multan is called the City of Saints due to number of shrines. It is also the hottest city in Pakistan with temperatures reaching 50C in summers. The time in Multan was probably the best time of our training period. Since none of the trainees had been to Multan before, all wanted to explore the city and know more about its culture, cuisines and architecture. The time in the Market was tough, but life after office was exciting. Everyday we went to a new shrine, heard interesting stories about miracles performed by saints (for example: a saint came to Multan from Afghanistan, riding on his lion and holding a snack as his whip ;)).
Next up was experience in small towns with major sales in surrounding rural areas. As part of the exercise, we went to Rahim Yar Khan, Sadiqabad and Sukkur. Even interesting was the ride to these towns as we were asked to arrange for the travel ourselves. We travelled by buses, trains and at time on rickshaws. The time that we spent helped us in two ways: understand how these small towns are different from the urban centres in terms of consumer and trader dynamics and see landmarks that we might not have seen otherwise.
Our last stop was Lahore, another urban town. Here, for the first time in three months, we had our first class room session with a Senior Regional Sales Manager who helped consolidate whatever we learned in our visits before.
Our three months visit across Pakistan, in scorching summer heat, and right down at the market place was a tough but extremely knowledgeable and interesting experience. Other companies may try to do the same but no one can do it the ROCKY style ;).
Three months in the field and we are ready for bigger and better challenges!!