After eight months of intensive MBA coursework, running helter-skelter from one corner of the campus to the other, attending courses and company information sessions, joining team meetings, and submitting assignments before their deadlines, I came across a golden opportunity: a consulting project internship at the Shanghai Metals Market. As the number one provider of metals market intelligence within China across the metal industry chain as well as finance and investment sectors, Shanghai Metals Market was keen to engage MBAs on an internship basis to help them leverage their current industry position and strengthen their global customer acquisition strategy across India, Russia and Latin America
Unaware of the initial expectations and agenda for our first day, I assembled with my fellow CEIBS interns MBA2017 Carlo Alfredo Bouroncle Egoavil, and Ekaterina Mishustina, and we quickly exchanged some ideas about the industry and the company’s successes to date, lest we might have to answer some related questions. Much to our surprise and relief, in our first meeting, Project Coordinator Sophie Cao (our main contact) gave us an overview of the Metals Market which included the whole value chain and related processes, as well as their customer acquisition strategy. She also laid out what she expected us to deliver as part of our consulting project internship over the coming months. The smart, young and confident Sophie told us she was sure that the solutions our team arrived at through competitor analysis, customer outreach and market surveys would help contribute to the company’s continued success. So no pressure there then!
Filled with energy and enthusiasm for our new endeavour, we wasted no time in asking about the company processes. We were also assured that since we still had to cope with rigorous MBA classes, strategy projects, and case competitions, we wouldn’t be have too much research and deliverables thrown at us right away. Finally, we had made the first step on our journey of working in China.
For our second meeting we were given an overview of the Metals Market’s banking and financial institution clients, the customer acquisition and retention policies and the country-specific challenges it faces both culturally and in terms of product specifications, when getting deals signed. Well prepared with our list of questions, we wasted no time in throwing them at the team. We were later joined by the company’s Vice President who also expressed his high hopes that this project would produce effective results. We were amazed by the level of transparency, honesty and trust they treated us with, and this only encouraged us more in wanting to make the project a success.
In later meetings we engaged with the sales team, who shared with us how the product sale lifecycle varied among customers from different countries and sectors, as well as the repurchase rate and the key limiting factors which, in their opinion, inhibit clients from signing deals and lead them to switch to competitors. They shared with us information to help analyse why conversion to the paid subscription in emerging markets were lower than in China. This information, together with our research, is helping us to develop a concrete and implementable strategy for customer acquisition. For example one idea we came up with is to develop innovative, customized reports to help strengthen client retention.
We also discovered, much to our delight, that cultural differences and diversity between the interns and the staff, which often affects communication and work culture, turned out to be one of our primary strengths in making this project a success. Our first year of the MBA journey is coming to an end and there is no better way to end it than with our very first “China Depth” work experience.
MBA2017 Sneha Das