As I look back at my first year with Reckitt Benckiser, I question myself on a fundamental aspect: Have I actually been successful here? Has the organization benefitted from a hand-picked management trainee as much as it has been the other way around? Am I soaring, or just merely brisk-walking the fast-paced career tracks that the company offers? Do I actually lead the race, or am I ‘just’ another runner? The self-analysis is a critical one, but if one aspires and dreams big, no inch must be left un-turned. It takes a short dive into the memory lane, to not only surface my contributions and deliverables in the journey so far, but also on how the dots finally connected and on how they delivered business value to the organization.
I never forget day one. Yes, day one. The marketing director called me in and, confident in my abilities, laid-out two possible paths. While the first allowed me to wet my feet and harbour upon basics for the first few months, the other put me up for a demanding challenge, this under his direct mentoring and supervision. I was asked to study, understand, analyse and fully deliver the annual brand plans for a local analgesic. I took the leap. For a management trainee, the jump was as real as it could get, and the faith from a company director was all the gear that was needed. It was a mere month later, I not only presented to the GM, but the plans were floated ahead to the region. While it may be normal for seasoned brand managers to play this game once every year, but for a ‘virgin’ management trainee, the sense of ownership instilled and the achievement bagged was magnanimous. But this was only the start.
As I then joined team Dettol, came in opportunities to comprehend real brand equity and analyze upon hard numbers that revolve around it in a cut-throat competitive landscape. Under rigorous, yet solid, management of my boss, I was pitched ideas to lead, execute and deliver. Honestly, with play scattered all-around the field and a lot of ground to cover, I would often question if I was actually running fast enough. Only later, did the dots connect for me to look back and realize. Over a couple of months, we had re-developed, launched and optimized a direct-to-consumer marketing campaign for Dettol to educate over half a million new-mothers nationwide on essential health and hygiene habits for their families. It was a beautiful program that felt good at the core. But beyond that, and from a professional perspective, I knew we had struck gold when I was asked to prepare a ‘how to do’ manual for the program. Our New Mothers Education campaign was benchmarked across the RB RuMEA region for regional markets to follow and implement likewise. Now that’s when you know you that you’re on track! A little later, team Dettol successfully partnered the global healthcare jewel with the Pakistan Pediatric Association on a national ‘Mission for Health’ program. The initiative was a huge one, yet prior to the launch I had been assigned to lead liaison. It wasn’t the easiest nut to crack, but the team had stood determined for a win-win partnership. And yes we did it.
In the final leg of my management trainee program, came in my rotation to the vital Sales/Trade Marketing function. A colleague had been working hard to establish a new and critical-to-business trade channel- the ‘Golden Store Program’, a trade marketing initiative for driving company sales and bolstering brand visibility across the top retail stores nationwide. However, the program had stood still and had yet to see the light of day. I was put up to lead the on-ground execution for the program nationwide, and to get the engines running. From zero to completion, after two months of hard work, under high time and quality pressure, and travel to all major urban and suburban cities across the country, the program now stands running. For me, I had stamped a ‘done’ on a long-awaited daunting execution.
Reflecting back, it’s satisfying to know that the hard work and sweat has reaped fruit. To know, that I have been at the forefront with the rest of the team in generating commercial business value for the organization. However, true satisfaction lies beyond this point. I believe that yes I’ve been successful because I’ve carved a niche for myself- an image where ‘Waqas’ is one of the team members whom the management can trust to pitch crazy challenges to; one of the team members who loves to come up with unique tech-savvy ideas; and one of the team members who, despite being a hardcore perfectionist, is also now flexible enough to strongly execute a ‘done rather than perfect’ solution at times of dire need.
It’s been a great one year with Reckitt Benckiser; and I’m now looking forward to level 2. Newer beginnings, newer challenges!
Tags: achievement, Brand Manager, Career, company culture, Core Values, Entrepreneurship, FMCG, graduate, graduate program, Graduates, ideas, innovation, Marketing, new challenge, Opportunities, ownership, taking responsibility