As a second-year Marketing and Strategy student at York University’s Schulich School of Business, Ashni Raythatha was facing endless possibilities for her career. At this point, her only work experience was as a lifeguard.
Should she choose finance, accounting, marketing…or something else? She couldn’t decide. “I just knew that I liked working with numbers, analyzing problems and interacting with people,” she says.
That’s when she spotted Procter & Gamble’s Sales/Customer Business Development Summer Internship job listing, which described a different kind of role than the sales job stereotype Ashni had come to expect – one which allowed students to become important members of the team, work directly with P&G’s customers and contribute to the growth of the company’s well-known brands.
“I thought it sounded super interesting and challenging,” she says, “so I decided to apply.”
Getting through P&G’s rigorous hiring process
The hiring process was also challenging – Ashni was required to submit an application, and then complete two online assessments.
From there, she participated in a first-round, behavioural-based interview at Schulich, as well as an in-person Reasoning Test that measured her reasoning skills using numerical, logic-based and figural reasoning questions.
Finally, she was invited for a final interview at P&G’s head office in Toronto and they hired her for the summer as an intern for the blades and razors category at Canada’s largest discount department store. “I was so excited!” she says.
As Ashni would later learn during two internships and a full-time job with the company, P&G is a very results-driven company. Her involvement in student groups at school, including a consulting club and a not-for-profit organization where she managed a team of 15, impressed the P&G representatives who interviewed her.
Learning about Customer Business Development
Ashni’s first summer in Sales/Customer Business Development (CBD) with P&G involved a lot of training, data analysis, hands-on learning and working closely with her manager, who would take her to visit her retailer’s stores about once a week
“A lot of the base learning is done at the store level – taking pictures, learning how everything works – but I was also working on projects where they took me into the retailer’s head office to do sales,” she says. “It’s pretty amazing how much responsibility they give as an intern. They give you real work!”
Working in CBD at P&G is almost like being a small business owner within a larger corporation, Ashni describes – you’re responsible and accountable for the success of your category and retailer. “You do this by coming up with creative solutions for new initiatives, such as in-store feature plans or displays for your products, and working in collaboration with the retailer’s buyers at their head office,” she adds.
All of these elements and more can affect how much of P&G’s products are purchased in-store by consumers, hopefully resulting in stronger revenues for both the retailer and P&G.
Coming back for more
“I knew right away that I wanted to come back the next summer,” Ashni says. The work, her co-workers and managers, the company’s Intern Network, social events, and professional development are just a few of the reasons she decided to return. “P&G doesn’t view you as being there for the short-term, either – they invest in you.”
She worked as an intern for the feminine care and deodorant category at the largest supermarket chain in Canada that summer, doing similar work as the summer before but with a little bit more responsibility and autonomy.
“I had to create a whole new presentation to get the retailer to bring some new cosmetics initiatives in-store,” she says. “It’s an art, really, taking the data you have and presenting it in the right away. That’s what I really like about CBD – it’s such an exciting feeling to make that sale.”
Ashni loved her summer internships with P&G so much that she decided to enrol in fourth-year courses that would help her in her work. “I took a lot of marketing courses and also a few finance courses because of my managers told me that having a very strong numbers background would help my career at P&G,” she says.
Starting a career in CBD
After graduating in June 2012, Ashni took the summer off to do some travelling and then returned to P&G permanently in September as a Category Development Manager for the hair care, skincare, deodorant and body wash category at Canada’s largest pharmacy chain.
“This is a little more strategic. You’re trying to sell P&G products, but at the same time you’re also trying to help the retailer’s whole category grow,” she says.
“It’s kind of like being a consultant: I might suggest that they run more of a certain type of ad that does extremely well, or change the price point of a product, or pair two brands that perform better when they’re featured together.”
Learn more about P&G’s Sales/Customer Business Development careers from:
- University of Toronto political science graduate Adam Halim
- Queen’s University commerce graduate Jane Traversy