Born and brought up in Karnataka, Ashwin Shenoy's ambition was to follow in his father's footsteps, who he considered a self-made man. To pursue his dream, Ashwin graduated in electronics and communications engineering and ended up with a few internships in hand. To improve career prospects, he decided to pursue an MBA from the Goa Institute of Management and this is where an unexpected and life-changing opportunity came his way.
While at the management institute in his first year, Ashwin was introduced to MindRover, Tata Motors' unique case study competition that invites solutions to challenging problems from the best B-schools in India, but they could not make it past the first round. It was in his second year that Ashwin along with his teammates (Robin Garg and Arjun Gupta) decided to take a stab at the case study challenge, motivated by a year-and-a-half of business studies under his belt, a few internships offer and encouragement from friends.
Ashwin's case study was to increase community engagement, new sales and repeat purchases of the Tata Safari Storme.
When they were given the case study, the team first researched the Safari Storme community online. They, then reached out to Safari Storme owners who were part of the Tata Motor Safari Owners United League (SOUL) and those who were completely unaware of this company initiative. They conducted online surveys to assess loyalty programmes that would find favour with the owners. They also researched initiatives that were launched by other companies to get a feel of the market space. All this gave the team a greater insight into what customers really wanted from the company, and a better idea of how the company could engage with their target audience. Here's an example of the recommendations and initiatives:
- The team suggested that SOUL trips become a family initiative instead of a weekend getaway for a single guy. The team proposed an all-India road safari from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, with pit-stops becoming that had the potential to become a large and successful community-building event.
The challenging finals
The final presentation was a very memorable event, recalls Ashwin. When you find yourself in the top--five slot from hundreds of teams, to make a presentation to a panel of industry stalwarts, it's a matter of pride. 'We were against teams from the best B-schools in the country, the IMT team had had the opportunity to meet the owners personally. That surely gave them the edge, but most of the teams had ideas that were equally innovative,' he says, confidently.
MindRover had a very positive impact on his career. For Ashwin, who had had only a cursory interest in cars and bikes, 'It opened doors that I wasn't expecting at all. If not for this experience, I would have been in a different industry altogether.'
Next stop - Tata Motors
Tata Motors MindRover came as an unexpected change and landed Ashwin a job with the organisation. "Tata Motors gives me the freedom to do a lot of things,' he says. 'That gives me the power to be responsible for my own results.' Until he joined an automobile firm, Ashwin had scarcely taken note of trucks or other commercial vehicles on roads while travelling, but today it has become a hobby to take note of every truck that passes by. It has been one and half years at Tata Motors, after joining as a Post Graduate Trainee (PGT), and he is currently a Territory Sales Manager (LCVs & Pickups) based in Surat, spending most of his time among commercial vehicles and customers he says, laughing. First posted to Rajkot for a year, and now to Surat, Ashwin is getting a lot of hands-on experience. 'Gujarat is a very competitive state,' he says, 'and it is a tough job, but I'm learning a lot.' The MindRover experience has definitely been a life-changing experience for Ashwin.
As an advice for aspiring candidates applying to this exciting case study competition, Ashwin has a few words of advice, "The entire two years of your MBA experience shall boil down to this hands-on experience solving real life corporate problems. You shall thoroughly enjoy it, so give it your best!!"
Read the story of another MindRover winner here.