The Moroccan experience started as soon as my plane took off for Casablanca: Arabic music in the background, traditional food, and mint tea. The moment I landed in Casablanca I knew I would enjoy every second here: lovely weather, warm people, and amazing landscapes! Everything was just perfect!
My first day in Casablanca was one to remember. After a good night’s sleep I woke up early in the morning, grabbed a fast breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, and headed directly to the beach. I even took a surf lesson in the afternoon, which turned out to be the greatest sport I’ve ever tried. Having tea at a beachside restaurant was a lovely way to end my day.
Monday was my first day at GSK. Redouane, the HR Manager introduced me and the other two interns to most of our colleagues and we had our first meeting with the HR Director. Next we headed to a conference room where Redouane delivered a very comprehensive presentation on GSK Morocco and North Africa, last year’s performance and future trends, local business and reporting structure, and recent changes at the Group and regional level. After lunch I had my first meeting with the Finance Director of GSK North Africa, Mohamed Hammadi. After describing the finance department and its personnel, Mr. Hammadi talked me through the main projects I would be involved in, with a focus on the three year financial plan for GSK North Africa, before explaining the workings of the markets in Morocco, Tunis, and Libya.
The next day I met my mentor, Mohammed Ben Abbad – Senior Financial Analyst – and we had an introductory discussion on the monthly financial reports, KPIs, and forecasts that I would have the opportunity to work on during my stay here. During the following days, I learnt about the three year financial planning process for the North Africa region. Thus I became familiar with the key steps required for a successful elaboration of the financial plan and I understood the importance of accurate budgeting for any business in general and for the pharmaceutical industry in particular. Having access to the main KPIs and financial reports of GSK North Africa and receiving continuous guidance on how they are elaborated and interpreted helped me improve my awareness of the characteristics of the local markets and understand the main threats and opportunities faced in each market.
At the beginning of my second week I was provided with an office next to my mentor’s. During the first couple of days Mr. Mohammed guided my training with regards to annual budget plans, profit and loss analysis, rolling forecasts, monthly and quarterly updates, stock and expenses analysis, and different performance measures. I became familiar to the format of each type of financial report and with the main formulas used in the process.
In addition to the compulsory e-learning courses I undertook during the following days, I had the opportunity to try my hand with several finance self-study resources offered by GSK, such as Harvard ManageMentor, The Economist-Intelligence Unit, Corporate Executive Board, PriceWaterhouseCoopers-Publications. Additionally, I studied in detail the company’s latest annual and corporate responsibility reports, the product portfolio and pipeline, and the most recent quarterly results (Q1 2014). Thus I managed to understand the main drivers of GSK’s growth, the main sources of revenue, and I had a deep insight into the company’s financial performance and future targets.
Moreover, my mentor provided me with a detailed explanation of the price reduction strategy which is being implemented in GSK Morocco at the moment. This strategy has a strong impact on the company’s financial results and needs to be handled with due consideration.
Towards the end the week, Mr. Mohammed helped me make appointments with the managers of the other departments in order to get a clear grasp of the overall business. This will help me familiarize myself with GSK’s business model in Morocco and North Africa and strengthen my understanding of the finance department’s activities.