CQ FMCG_Luminaries| Mithilesh Pinjarkar| AB InBev

Interviewer: We have with us Mr Mithilesh Pinjarkar, to guide us on placement in AB InBev. Could you please elaborate your field of work and job profile?

Mithilesh: My role at AB InBev is that of a Data Engineer. I’ll be a part of the Logistics Data Strategy Team. I will be working on either Azure or AWS, whatever platform the company has. The work of a Data Engineer lies in between that of a Data Analyst and Data Scientist. So to be a Data Engineer, you will need to know at least one coding language, either Python or Java, some basic statistics and a specific language associated with the company’s platform; either Microsoft Azure or AWS. And to learn the Command-Line of Microsoft Azure or AWS, you can always refer to videos available online. This is what is my role in the company as of now. But as an intern in the company, my role was quite different than my role right now. My Intern Role was under the Logistics team and I was to improve the processes at the Mysore Brewery. This role was pretty similar to what is offered to the ITC KITES interns or HUL interns, where you need to go to the factory and they ask you to analyse the whole factory process/ industrial process and they ask you to improve upon those processes. I was especially working on Warehousing and had to travel from Bangalore to Mysore and back. I had to understand how the warehouse was working, from where the supply was coming, and to where it was going and I had to work on improving a couple of processes there. I had to do ABC Classification of Logistics there, I had to improve upon the counting process of the inventory and I should say it was more sort of a Consultant Role.

Interviewer: What are the different companies in this sector one may target?

Mithilesh: ABInBev is one of the largest FMCG firms in the world, but the roles that they offer in India are slightly different. The point is that the roles offered by ITC and HUL are more like a Field Engineer job. ITC/HUL sends you down to the manufacturing plant and asks you to manage/ improve the processes there. But it is not so in the case of AB InBev. AB InBev has three offices in India, all of them in Bangalore. The first two offices are the Capability Centre and the Analytics Centre, which are like the Analytics Hub for all the AB InBev Breweries across the world. So, the data from the breweries of AB InBev all over the world are sent to the Capability Centre and Analytics Centres, where they analyse the data and give insights and inputs to people working in those breweries outside. Apart from this, there is another office works on India Operations. But people who are hired from IITs, mostly end up at either GCC or GAC. Very few people go to the India Operations Office. But, the three of these are corporate offices and do not match to the roles at ITC/HUL. Therefore, AB InBev does not offer you the role of a Field Engineer during placements, however, during interns, I did get a role of the sort, I being the only one to get this kind of a role because they wanted me to work on Java, and I told them it would take me time to get acquainted with it, and so I ended up taking up this industry project. Also at AB InBev, I choose to take up the job of a Data Engineer because today wherever you go, Data is a necessity. Even if you have a Consulting Role, you will be needing Data as you will be working with company data, and if you aren’t willing to work with it, you will not be able to provide them with the right solutions. Also at AB InBev, there is a rule that after every 9–10 months people are moved across different departments/verticals. So, AB InBev, for the first two to three years experiments with their people, this is what we have seen during our internship also and even now, people are telling us the same on calls. This is not at all similar to the model that ITC/HUL follows, that is if you’re hired for a particular job, you will be going up the ladder in the same department. But, AB InBev is different. There is promotion also in that scene, but you’ll be moving across various departments and then when the company feels you are a perfect fit for a particular department, it puts you into that. And this is a very good opportunity because if you get the experience of 2–3 departments in a matter of 2–3 years, it’s the best thing you can get. Even if you want to exit the company, you will have various opportunities and options. But if you speak about the different companies in this league, I would surely count all the Data Analytics/ Data Engineering companies in the league of ABInBev.

However, I’d like to add that if you are preparing for ITC/HUL, you can also prepare for AB InBev, because after all, you’ll be working for one of the largest FMCGs of the world.

Interviewer: What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed?

Mithilesh: To be frank, I did not apply for a lot of companies during the internships. And I got a PPO from AB InBev. So, I did not sit for the placements, essentially. During the time of the internship, I remember on Day 1, I applied for 3 companies, which also included ITC and I got rejected from all three of them. There was also Blackbuck’s GD, after which I was refused. I actually had a third-year intern in ITC, it was off-campus, not a KITES Intern, and I was very specific right from the beginning, that FMCG is a sector that has a lot of opportunities and a lot of scope for growth, and there are a lot of things that you can do and experiment on, also, I won’t be working for a startup where the job safety is a little less, but for an established firm. I also was very motivated at the thought that most of the Data Analytics work that happens across the world, the majority of it boils down to these manufacturing plants. So, I was really inspired to work for an FMCG. The first actual interview that I gave was of ABInBev and that I cracked.

Interviewer: Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process. Could you please list down questions you were asked in different rounds of the interview, puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion that you think will prove to be helpful for the students.

Mithilesh: So, first of all, there was a test, which is there for most companies, but is not typical of FMCGs; FMCGs do CV Shortlisting, after which there is a GD. For ABInBev, there was a test, in which I remember them asking some SQL questions, some Quant and Probability Questions, and some Logical Reasoning Questions. The test wasn’t that tough, it was fairly easy because as far as I remember, I wasn’t that prepared and was also morally let down because I hadn’t performed well in Day 1/ Day 2. If someone is preparing for AB InBev, there is no kind of special preparation required. And the basic understanding of one coding language is more than enough. There were two coding questions, and I was able to solve one of them, the other I wasn’t able to solve due to lack of time. But when I saw the shortlist list, I could that there was a mix of people who had solved both the questions, who had solved just one question and who had solved no questions. It is because AB InBev also emphasises on one’s CV. And if you have an FMCG intern before AB InBev, that helps a lot. And you have experience with some really big brand; my friend had an intern at Philips; that helps too. The next round was a day after the test. This was the group interview round, which is a mixture of an interview and a group discussion. In this model, a question floats around, for example- what is your biggest weakness? and you need to answer the question one by one. And at the end of this group interview, you face a question that somehow relates to the group, that forces you to make a judgement on that particular group. Like we were asked questions like- if you had to choose one person out of this group to intern with at AB InBev, who would it be and why? And if you had to choose a person who would not do an intern with you at ABInBev, who would it be and why? These questions test a lot of things at once, like how best you can justify yourself and how strong your moral ground is. After this round, we had the interview round. Firstly, people whose CVs were leaning towards Data Analytics were interviewed. My CV had names like L&T and ITC, so it was far away from Analytics, although through my Electrical Courses, I did have some knowledge. My interview was the last one. The interview itself had two parts; they started off with CV grilling, and in my case, they were particularly interested in my ITC intern.

What was your project title? How did you obtain your data? How did you use the data? Which platforms did you use? What languages did you use? What were the solutions that you provided for the problems that you identified? What were the metrics that you used to qualify or select solutions for your particular problem? These were some of the questions they asked me. Then they asked a couple of questions that were ethical. Like they asked me- Can you share with us the solutions that you provided here and what were the results you got after using those solutions? I told I can provide you with the solution because that is something that is available online, but after using these solutions the results that I got, that involves a lot of confidential data, so I will not be able to reveal them. They were happy with my answer. During my ITC intern, I had to build a lot of Macros, so they asked me how I built all those Macros. Building a Macro can be just pressing a couple of buttons, but for those who work with VBA and edit Macros, Macro editing is actually difficult. On the same lines, they asked me if I knew how to edit Macros and use VBA and asked me a question about VBA which was easy, and was just to check whether I knew the syntax.

After they were done with this ITC grilling, they grilled me on my Placecomm work. After which, there were some HR questions. This was the last round, after which we got our results.

Interviewer: What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for?

Mithilesh: I had especially targeted FMCGs, and I did not apply for all companies that were coming for CDC. I didn’t want to go for software and I had very little knowledge of Data Analytics when I sat for my intern. For ITC/ HUL, there are two parts, the public speaking/ PoR part i.e, having a good speaking skill and a good number of PoRs, that gets you through the GD round and the other part is the core focus, which checks your core knowledge. ITC asks you a lot of good questions from the core part of your syllabus, so it is important to revise whatever you’ve learnt. For ABInBev too, the first part about Public Speaking and PoRs holds, including a good brand on your CV, or if you do not have a good brand, a couple of projects or so. The second part comprises of decent coding skills and a little knowledge of how the FMCG industry works. However, this is a general rule, that you should know a little about the company and the products and services that they provide. For example, ITC/HUL or even PNG for that matter have diversified into various other domains. But ABInBev hasn’t diversified itself and this is something that people applying for ABInBev are supposed to know. ABInBev is also famous for its acquisitions; it has acquired a lot of big companies. In general, it is good to have some knowledge about the company’s background.

Try to have a knowledge of at least one coding language, some Probability and some Quant. Do the course by Andrew Ng. You can practice Quant from websites like InterviewBit or Geeks for Geeks. Arun Sharma has a book on CAT Questions, which has fairly good questions for Quant too.

Interviewer: What are your views regarding the CDC internship and further placements scenario, in this pandemic period?

Mithilesh: We all know the scenario this year, that it is going to be tough for the people to get online interns and placements. Usually, people start preparing for CDC Interviews and Discussions, and those-two weeks of December and they neglect off-campus opportunities. However, for this batch, I would like to suggest that they should start their fight for getting off-campus placements this year, and if you have one off-campus offer in your hand, be it placement or intern, it will be very helpful this time because if everything goes South, you will still be having an offer in your hand which you can rely on. This time, the ed-Tech industry will be on a boom, but some other companies might withdraw themselves. So, I would suggest people to parallel-ly prepare for off-campus placements with their CDC preparation, focussing more on off-campus placements.

Wishing you all the best!

The Official Soft Skills Society of IIT Kharagpur.