Global Challenge 2014: GSK Finance internship, Morocco – Blog 2

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My third week with GSK was very exciting! I had the opportunity to undertake meetings with representatives of different departments in order to understand the overall structure of the company and the operations of its business units. First I was introduced to Naoual Benyezzar, the Business Planning Manager. She delivered a short presentation about the Marketing Department and responsibilities of the Product Managers and explained the need for close cooperation between the Commercial, Marketing, and Finance departments. Then we went through some of the main KPIs that Naoual prepares and key statistical tools used for analysis and forecast. Thus, I learnt that one of the most important tasks of the Business Planning Manager is to analyze market information, facts, news, and trends with a view to provide reasonable foundation for the financial plan figures.

In addition, meeting some of the Product Managers at GSK was a great opportunity for me to gain valuable knowledge on the main product categories, key facts and news about the local and international drug market, and GSK position in the Moroccan market. For example, as Tender Sales represent a very large proportion of the overall turnover, I learnt about the procedures that need to be followed when an invitation to tender is received from the public health sector. Moreover, I became aware of GSK’s main competitors, namely local companies that pursue low pricing policies.

I had an interesting conversation with Mustapha, the Respiratory Product Manager in which we discussed the main drivers of the respiratory drugs market and he provided me with some guidance regarding research I may wish to undertake. Mustapha also delivered a short presentation on GSK project to replace the current product with a more efficient one in the coming couple of years.

On Friday I visited the HR Department where I had a meeting with the North Africa HR Coordinator – Redouane Nhami. He shortly presented the main stages of the GSK’s HRM process, namely recruitment and selection, performance management, reward management, and training and development methods. In addition, Redouane provided me with several study materials such as leaflets, procedural papers, e-learning, and other online resources. Thus, I managed to get a good grasp of the company’s HRM process which is aligned with GSK’s strategic objectives. Everything I learnt also helped me with a personal project as I used GlaxoSmithKline as a case study and concluded that the company is an example of good practice in human resource management.

I had a really nice and relaxing weekend with my friends from Casablanca. We went to Dahomey Beach on Saturday, a lovely place about 30 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and spent the evening having ‘nous nous’ coffee. Sunday was the first day of Ramadan and I was invited to have ‘ftor’ (dinner) with the family of one of my friends. It was a wonderful experience that helped me become more aware of the Moroccan traditions, religion, cuisine, and welcoming spirit.

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As the first Ramadan week has started, the teas, coffees, and delicious lunches at the office are all gone. Moreover, the working hours are shorter now and the atmosphere at the office is a bit different. However, I managed to settle into the new environment quickly and carried on with my meetings. On Monday I had a meeting with Akram, the Demand and Logistic Manager. I gained a good grasp of the Supply Chain Department which is essential for a pharmaceutical company given the fact that people’s lives depend on the availability of medicine in the market. Akram made a short presentation of his main duties, such as raw materials and final products management, elaboration of KPIs like forecast accuracy and stock coverage, and reporting to the Group. He also introduced me to a cost reduction strategy implemented by GSK at the moment and presented the main activity areas that are considered in this respect, such as transport and stocking expenses.

Afterward I visited the Commercial Department, where I had a very instructive discussion with Yassine, the Sales Administrator. Apart from being one of my very good friends in GSK, Yassine helped me gain a deep insight into the workings of the company particularly from the perspective of the commercial side of the business. He presented in detail the distribution chain from importing raw materials and finished drugs to selling drugs to pharmacies and final customers. I also became aware of the main issues caused by the large market share difference between GSK’s distributors in Morocco, especially in the context of the current price reduction policy.

On Friday I had a meeting with Mostafa Fathallah, the Financial Accounting Manager. After introducing me to the key accounting practices, which proved to be a great refreshment of my accounting knowledge, he explained the structure of the company’s internal accounting system – SUN. Then I had the opportunity to learn about the reporting process and I got a good grasp of the UNISON system used by GSK. Mustapha taught me how the financial data is introduced in the system and how the main financial reports are generated.

All the insights I gained during these weeks are essential for my understanding of GSK operations in Morocco and of the main threats and challenges faced by the company.
I spent the weekend sunbathing, strolling along the coastline, buying souvenirs from ‘old Medina’, having midnight coffees with my friends, and eating the best ice cream ever – Olivieri. I totally recommend it to everyone who visits Casablanca!

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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