12:00 AM, December 01, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:52 AM, December 01, 2016

A Talk with the Trio

Conversation with the people behind Battle of Minds

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On the November 17th issue of SHOUT, you learned what the champions – of Battle of Minds 2016 (BOM) – are made of. Last week, we sat down with those who had a lot to do in creating the champions. We met Saad Jashim, HR Business Partner - Marketing and Talent, Jawaad Bin Hamid, Learning & Sourcing Executive, Human Resources, and Shish Swapnik, Key Accounts Officer, from British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB), and a hearty conversation ensued.

So why does BATB value young talent? Saad believes in moulding and growing new talent, right off their undergraduate programmes. As someone who has been with BATB for a decade, he knows the value of giving exposure to a young, bright mind. 

“It's easy for a new graduate to absorb what we teach in our professional life. It works both ways – because we are eager to give them a career path and they are intrigued in starting a professional journey. This also reflects in a statistic –“80% of all our senior leaders are from those who we hire as graduates”, he adds.

As for lessons, what do these young professionals learn at BATB? Of the three, Shish is the youngest at the organisation. He mentions how the guiding principles, which are followed by heart in all locations of BAT's operation around the world can have a consistent impact in the person's mind.

He says, “To realise our values – Enterprising spirit, Freedom through responsibility, Open minded, and Strength from diversity – makes us a global family. It teaches us to be bold in facing challenges and grow simultaneously by working together.”

Saad decides to share what it was like for him in his early days at BATB. “From day one, you are in charge of yourself. BATB tells you to own up to your responsibilities and empowers you to do so. This creates a difference early in our careers, because we learn from our successes and failures – and really makes us ask who we are and what we can do.”

BOM is the pioneering business competition of the country. The 13th edition of this contest recently wrapped up with Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka clinching the trophy of the winners. The participants form a close connection with BATB officials as many of them take on the role of mentorship for the competition. So, what do they look for in their protégés? Jawaad takes the mic.

“As a BOM alumnus, I'd say it gave me an idea to what I am made of. It showed me my strengths and challenged me. The job market is constantly evolving so it's very important that you know what you're good at, and be better at it. Likewise, we wanted to see the strengths and skills in an individual. That's why this year we asked 'What are you made of?' and chose it as our tagline.”

We ask, what about the ones who are still trying to find their own path in this competitive world?

“It's okay to be confused, I'll say. As a young professional, one should more importantly focus on the opportunity at hand. Check the climate, values and culture at where you work. Set up meetings, talk to people and take a look around rather than jumping on the bandwagon of fancy designations and cool benefits. At the end of the day, this will be a world that you and only you will be creating,” Saad explains.

 “A young professional should have a vision and know what he or she can bring to the table. They have a point to prove, to create a difference wherever they work and so they should really understand the essence of it all,” they say.

This year, the teams of BOM had to work with restaurants in Dhaka with a goal to boost sales. They developed innovative sales campaigns and introduced new items on their menus. SHOUT caught up with Labib Tarafdar who is the owner of Madchef, one of the participating restaurants. He told us what was it like trusting a bunch of kids running his burger joint:

“It was both a learning and beneficial experience for us. We received a good treatment from BATB throughout the process of the campaign and it helped us broaden our horizon to a newer set of customers. The kids put in a fabulous effort of putting their theoretical knowledge to practical applications and that shows in the results.”

Back to the BATB people, and Saad answers on behalf of them all for this last question: as an organization, what are the gaps between an educational institution and the corporate world?

 “Our educational institutions are doing a stellar job in providing graduates with the right competencies and knowledge. The area to work on is in providing real practical experience for students. Universities should partner with organizations so that students can apply the knowledge they are receiving to a real world situation which would help cement the knowledge better. Localization of content and making it contemporary would help make it more relevant to the students. Platforms that provide lessons and seminars from professionals and organizations can help bridge some of that gap too.”

What we pride ourselves in the most is our passion for innovation, allowing us to relish the opportunity to create something new, and everybody follows that winning formula. That is exactly what makes  Battle of Minds a pioneer and premier in the industry.”

Kazi Akib Bin Asad is a Sub-editor at Shout who likes to travel and collect puns from all over the world. Follow him and his adventures on instagram.com/akibasad

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