Volkswagen meets Nanyang Technological University
A recent collaboration between Volkswagen Group Singapore (VGS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) saw students pitting their skills against one another in a case study competition to win a trip to the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany and the chance to intern at Volkswagen. Aravindkumaran s/o Sabapathy, one of the winners shares his experience.
Hi Aravind, congratulations on winning the competition! Could you tell us more about yourselves and your teammates?
I'm a Marketing graduate from Nanyang Business School (NBS). In my free time I enjoy taking long drives because I find them really calm and soothing. My teammate Marcus Chan is also a Marketing graduate from NBS who's now working at SGX. He's a proud owner of a Tiguan! Michelle Ng is currently doing her final year at NBS and interning with CNBC Asia. She was never really a car fanatic, but she tells me that the competition has given her lots more insight into the industry.
What was the case study competition like?
The case study competition was amazing because it brought together two giants of their respective industries, Volkswagen Group Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, while encouraging university undergraduates to put their academic skills to the test. The competition aimed to build a bridge between the corporate and academic world. Students experienced the real-life challenges that companies face while VGS showcased its brand and imparted industry knowledge and expertise to the nation's future leaders.
What started as a regular school project turned into learning journey that brought us to the heart of the brand, making them realise what Volkswagen really stands for - a customer-oriented brand that produces the people's car.
Along with my team-mates, I felt more connected to the brand as I found out more about the work philosophy, functions, processes and operations of VGS, both in Singapore as well as globally. I no longer just look at the price tag of cars; rather, I appreciate the creation of every machine and vehicle. I found the competition to be fairly difficult, yet extremely interesting as it was the first time I was given the opportunity to propose strategies for a real-life case that a company was facing - in this case, promoting the Volkswagen brand to the younger generation in Singapore.
Sounds exciting! So what sort of ideas did your team come up with?
We went through several brainstorming sessions and came up with ways to reach out to the youth. While doing so, we had to ensure the strategies were aligned with the brand's direction. In contrast to school projects which are highly theoretical, we were challenged to consider the practicality of our proposals. In this time, I came to understand that it's not always just about having a good idea, but also knowing how to rationalise it, justify it and show proof of results.
That's great. We heard you even had the chance to pitch your ideas to the Volkswagen management?
Yes, I was nervous but also really excited! My team and I pitched our proposal to the Managing Director of VGS, Mr. Steffen Schwarz as well as professors and management staff from NBS. To our utmost delight, the panel was pleased with our recommendations and awarded us with the opportunity to visit Wolfsburg in Germany! The icing on the cake was when I was chosen to intern at VGS!
So how was your trip to Wolfsburg, Germany?
It was great! We started off with a tour of the Autostadt, the 'Disneyland' of the automotive industry. Along with our guide, we experienced the many aspects of this auto wonderland such as off-terrain driving, the car tower ride (which is an innovative mechanism used to transport and hold cars within a particular tower) and the museums. The highlights of the tour, however, were the two factory visits - one of which was at Wolfsburg and the other, at Hannover. We got to see where and how Volkswagen passenger and commercial vehicles are born. The impressive automation, technical expertise and precision we witnessed are really works of art. Who knew that it takes 6000 parts to make one Tiguan, or that a car's body is painted in just 12 seconds by the automated machines? The experience gave us a newfound appreciation for the cars and the brand as a whole.
What's it like working at Volkswagen Singapore?
I am truly honoured to be awarded the opportunity to intern at VGS. I am learning a lot because of the wide exposure to different aspects of the marketing function. VGS is a fast-paced and dynamic environment where I am exposed to many new experiences every day. As part of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) team, I have been heavily involved in organising customer events, which has opened my eyes to the meticulous processes to ensure events are enjoyable for customers.
I also help to manage digital content on the company website, and have learnt a lot about Search Engine Optimisation. It goes without saying that the process of coming up with the marketing proposal, which started this all, was something I'll never forget because it taught me how to bring theories to life, in a business setting.
What were the main takeaways from this experience?
This opportunity has provided me with a platform to develop and hone my analytical skills, whilst giving me valuable insights into the formulation of a marketing proposal. Similarly, the journey to Wolfsburg and Hannover showed me the rich history of the brand and taught me that it's not just about making or selling cars, but more about how a brand can go to great lengths to continually serve the customer in the best way possible.
During this journey, I've come to appreciate and respect the need to ensure everything is perfect for Volkswagen customers - this is the philosophy adopted not just by the brand but also the people working for it. Seeing that smile or hearing that compliment from a customer makes everything worthwhile. I find myself growing, both personally and professionally, with each task I undertake and I'm enjoying every single moment of my internship.