The feeling of winning HUL The Big Brand Theory was ecstatic, as our hard work was recognized by such a large Firm.
I took this competition as a challenge and wanted to put to test all the knowledge that I have gained during my MBA course. This competition provided an apt platform to showcase my skills.
The first part of our preparation was about knowing the current state of the company and market needs. We downloaded the 2018 Investor Slide decks of HUL and its competitors, followed by downloading the financial statements. This gave us the direction in which the company is planning to move and the thought process behind each step which Unilever takes.
Next came the category selection based on CAGR and consumption patterns. In which the choice should also align with Unilever’s current portfolio. After the category selection, we used Guesstimate to point out the consumer base and found the scope in EBITDA. Lastly, we had to see how these new categories aligned with the current portfolio and differentiated them from the rest of the clutter.
We spent close to 65 hours in the first phase and we got to know that we were selected for the Finale. The most challenging phase that I have encountered was to find the correct number from the reliable sources. We had a difficult time in validating the numbers for Natural beverages as the Newspaper published numbers were different from the ones in Euromonitor report. For EBIT calculation, we had to make a lot of assumptions which had to be realistic. And validating those assumptions was a difficult task.
We had a balanced team. All the team members had different strengths, which played a vital role to get new perspectives and helped us to foray into all the possible aspects for crafting a perfect solution. Yes, conflicts did happen but, it made our ideas and thinking process even stronger. We resolved the conflict by asking logic or the thought process behind each action or idea. Both the sides in the conflict needed to provide strong reasons as to why his idea should win.
I have a previous experience in Product Management. I brought in all the numbers, financials and percentages from various sources. Worked on numbers to calculate the Target segments Consumption patterns, Trends and Competitor analysis. Deepak has a strong command over the Digital marketing aspect, which made it easier for us to ideate and propose, positioning and campaigning strategies. Karthik has good knowledge over current trends and new product ideas. We had distributed the work into three blocks. I handled the Beverages segments end to end. Deepak handled the Make-up segment. Karthik handled the differentiation strategy.
There were a total of 15 teams in the Finale. Each team had to present to the panel for a time span of 6 minutes followed by Q&A for another 4 minutes. No team was allowed to see the presentations made by the other teams as it would give undue advantage to the latter teams, so it would be difficult to name a team that gave us the toughest competition.
The competition was well designed, planned and executed. The problem statement was crisp and very relevant and engaging. The judges were all ears to the propositions we had to provide and probed about the thought process that went into designing it. Unilever treated us like a senior level executive and showed us how well a large organization like Unilever treats its employees and guests.
It feels that I have done the best thing by participating in HUL The Big Brand Theory. The most important learning for me had been on how to find the right data. Preparing for this competition made me realize that there so much of relevant data lying right in front of our eyes, be it in Investor PPT or financial statements. And the only prerequisite is the patience to find the relevant data. One can get an ample amount of information of any listed company, just browsing through its Investor PPTs.
-Aditya Hemant Bal is currently pursuing MBA from Great Lakes Institute Of Management, Chennai. He has a work experience of 45 months as a Product Manager for Digital products in Reliance Jio. His role was centred around product management, product launch strategy to deliver on business objectives.