Real Responsibilities or Fun and Games?
Some time has passed after my second blog entry and whilst writing this one I am closer to the end of my 6 week internship than I am to the beginning. Initially I planned to split the blog entry into two separate parts: work/responsibility related and leisure/lifestyle related. I believe that sticking to that plan is a good idea as I want this entry to be detailed to the interested reader and hopefully it’s going to be of some use.
Position, responsibilities and everyday work:
To recap some of the information mentioned earlier, I am Andrius Juozapaitis and I am currently working as an intern in the Global Business Development department of Samsung SDS in Seoul, South Korea. The department has recently been restructured: the original Strategy and Marketing department has been split into Global BD, Global Planning and Global Support. In general, the BD department is around 15 people, however it is expanding. Samsung SDS on a wider-scale is undergoing a massive re-orientation from a Samsung-Group facing business into an externally and globally focused IT integration service provider. As it is seeking growth outside of the Group’s premises it means that the development of internal resources which are supposed to ‘capture’ external business is very much ‘under construction’. To have around 15 people working with ‘global’ business acquisition is more reminiscent of a start up than a 12 000 employee company. Then again, given its unique ‘group-serving’ nature, it is not a huge surprise, especially given the fact that SDS is betting on the global Samsung brand, mainly influenced by Samsung Electronics’ consumer products, to fuel its global expansion.
The people in the department are responsible either for geographical regions, such as South America, China, the Middle-East etc. or business sub-areas, namely ‘Global Strategic Alliances’, which stands for partnerships with various local or regional players, established in order to attract and develop business opportunities. My personal geographical focus is Europe – no big surprise in here. However, things get a bit more complicated with regards to the specific project responsibilities. As the department has undergone a restructuring (quite a usual thing in Samsung in general from what I heard) and some of the people have been on business trips (Europe included) the ‘internship-project’ was not the only or main priority of my co-workers. After then induction the two of us were given a very broad scope of responsibilities: market analysis, competitor analysis, strategic alliance analysis and an attack plan for 4 European countries: the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania. This was supposed to cover two service lines: intelligent transport solutions (ITS) and digital space convergence (DSC – a term which Samsung SDS came up with themselves; it reflects fancy IT and design solutions merged into one service, or flashy touch screens and smart electronic appliances applied in library, museum or other spaces, such as retail banks).
As there were the two of us, we were first considering splitting the work in terms of countries but in the end we went for a service line split: Leena is covering the Digital Space Convergence line, focusing on the UK and Western Europe and for myself – I have the ITS sector in Eastern Europe as it is a less mature market and there is a lot of EU funded investment projects going on. I have also added a fourth country, even if partially, Bulgaria. Because I wanted to make my work as useful as possible, I tried to understand where SDS was at before I had begun my work. This means understanding what internal resources are there to conduct market research and seek out opportunities, how much cooperation can one expect between SDS and other companies within the Group, how useful were the meetings with European companies and municipal/federal representatives before I arrived in Seoul, what the ‘external business’ employees in the European office in London are doing and where do they currently stand… This has proved to be quite difficult. As time passed and I spoke with more and more people, I understood that the broad project scope given to us is partially a result of the fact that the ‘real’ expectations of the usefulness of our work are quite low. We are supposed to present and interim presentation and a final one on the last week, but apart from that, unless it is REALLY REALLY good, no one will read the report thoroughly as we are only ‘junior’ employees.
The idea wasn’t something I was happy about so I am aiming to do my best and understand where I can be helpful. After speaking with a colleague in the London office I understood what their interests are and had to find a way of combining their expectations and the expectations of the project supervisors in Seoul (naturally, these were a bit different). In terms of the real output, I have analyzed the European project funding, concluding that European Union structural funding is the most important and focusing on it. I’ve analyzed the Polish market for intelligent transport systems, urban transportation (fare collection and real time passenger information boards) and some of toll-road solutions around the area. I am currently concluding the analysis from the Czech and Romanian markets.
I had to present the interim presentation last week which was attended by quite a few colleagues including the Vice President. Having decided not to waste time on a separate presentation I have shown a few ‘working’ slides of my Report which are really data heavy (differentiating between report and presentation slides is very important). In a way, this may have lowered expectations for the Final Presentation but that is not the main point – I am focusing on the final output as much as possible and I am hoping to deliver a comprehensive analysis which would be as exhaustive as allowed given the time and resource constrains.
The fact that it is kind of an open and ‘loose’ project has its benefits and drawbacks: the positive side is that there is quite a bit of room for creativity and learning about the business or contributing in original ways, on the negative side, there’s no explicit training or guidelines attached to the analysis of research processes so everything is pretty much trial and error or learning by doing.
I guess this may suit some people more than others. Personally, I am enjoying it and given the current state of Samsung SDS, I wouldn’t expect a more formal project/responsibility structure in place. Hopefully, next year the interns can get the best of both worlds: both the creativity and room to contribute as well as some more formal teaching and development procedures in place.
Thank you for barring with me during this lengthy discussion: next entry – Seoul night life and other leisure time.