In summer of 2017 I had an opportunity to complete a practical training at the company located in Saint-Petersburg, Russia called “Ychebnaya mebel”. Originally, they were manufacturing school furniture and supplying it through city and district orders on the auction. I was employed at a time they introduced a new product line for the different market – conference armchairs for middle-class, premium sector. “Mebeletta” was the new brand that the company’s CEO wanted to promote to the Finnish market and at the same time to extend brand visibility in the Russian market – and that’s was the task proposition I was hired for.
When I got more acquainted with the task, my learning expectations and goals were primarily attributed to the following focus areas: improving sales skills, expanding knowledge in marketing and finding out about the aspects of Russian – Finnish relations. My practical training period started in May and at that point, I began from creating marketing material in English to come and speak with Finnish retail chains. For the first month, while I was in Jyväskylä, I have been involved in segmenting the Finnish market for the purpose of finding a market niche for the company’s product line which included analyzing the existing structure of furniture retailers in Finland, making several “cold calls” for finding potential clients, compiling e-mail lists and meetings with representatives of retail chains. Out of Finland, I was assisting the marketing department in Russia with the promotion of the conference chairs to the premium clientele. I had a chance of trying myself in a variety of tasks during the second half of my practical training ranging from participating in the design of the logo, creating the structure for the landing page, copywriting, translation, market strategy planning, brand development and social media marketing.
Backup from university
However, the most exciting part of the practical training was participation in the business-acceleration conference for entrepreneurs of Saint-Petersburg and Leningradskaya oblast which focused on fostering the development of SME in the region. “Mebeletta” was one of the participants. Speakers from different backgrounds came to share innovative methodologies in management, marketing, strategical thinking and leadership. During this conference, I was responsible for completing the given case studies, participating in the activities and establishing a network for company’s future cooperation by meeting with potential clients and managing communication in international meetings in person and by phone.
There is one particular aspect of my conference experience that I want to mention here that directly relates to my studies at JAMK. Speakers at the conference came from different backgrounds, including Russian retail chains, governmental market entities and even Skolkovo business school. Their pitches encompassed such topics as Design Thinking, corporate governance, market entry strategies, motivation factors in HR, types of leadership, value chain management and more. These very same topics were the ones I have already got acquainted with during my 1st year of studies in JAMK and I did not even expect that the issues brought up by the speakers would so much coincide with the issues we have been previously discussing in JAMK’s IB lectures. Thanks to such previous discussions back at university, pitch trainings and deep subject learning with a practical focus, I was able to make a contribution to the conference and participate in the talks on a variety of business-related topics. Entrepreneurs and business owners who I had a chance to talk with were surprised to find out that JAMK has such an approach of training their students in terms of bringing up practical sides of business development onto the table and focusing on acute topics and internationally acclaimed methodologies. I tried to communicate this approach to them and according to the final impression I got, they became quite interested in the Finnish education and apart from my practical-related tasks I have also been consulting them in this area.
Syncing in with the gained knowledge
The practical training gave me a number of different opportunities to implement knowledge gained during studies at JAMK, mainly from the perspective of Marketing Communication and Digital Marketing, Project Management and Data analysis. I also practised integrating self-management practices learned at Management course during my practical training as I was combining remote work with work in the office which implied a certain level of responsibility, task allocation and time-management.
“Mebeletta” became one of my first truthful in a sense of task volume work experience and for sure, it has been a very valuable experience for me which I believe laid the foundation for my future career. Firstly, I gained practical insights in marketing and management as I got acquainted with real-life examples of how businesses operate and communicate with each other and understood particular aspects of business development in Russia. Moreover, freelancing experience provided me with understating of a certain level of credibility and responsibility that employers expect from the workers, in that sense, I feel more ready to take on projects which might require distant participation. When it comes to creative thinking and problem-solving skills, I also had an opportunity to exercise them: I was creating several logos plus brand concepts that: adhere to a premium customer segment in Russia, coincide with wishes and visionary details of the employer and at the same time do not prevent current company’s customer base from recognizing existing brand.
Reflecting now back through the overall practical training, I came up with a conclusion that having a bigger picture in mind during first steps is crucial in order avoid wastage of resources due to improper timing and copying of the tasks from the workload. Again and again, I understand how important it is to proper time the stages of a project, otherwise improper phase-timing will inevitably lead to irrational usage of other resources, human ones as a matter of fact.
All in all, “Mebeletta” was not just a company with a practical training I completed, but it was a very valuable source of practical knowledge and business insights I gained from my own experience and from the words of people working there. There are some that I want to share in this blog which I believe are not necessarily attributed to the business area I was working in, but can be related to business life in general:
– Being open-minded and at the same time a good listener: it is essential to identifying the right flow of information in the conversation and to support the discussion with what is relevant and what might be a source of potential interest to your listener.
– Finding a balance between what you think is good and what your employer thinks is, establishing a compromise. This compromise is the foundation in the working relations as by transforming the input shared to you by the employer into the output with a certain proportion of your thinking and contribution develops such relationships further.
– Creativity is a challenging thing to direct in a certain direction, nevertheless, it is a certain skill of managing creativity that enables to bring up ideas and fresh thinking to a certain case.
– Sales are not made by e-mail, neither by phone, they are made during meetings. Whatever the business, it always comes to person-to-person communication. I want to make a particular emphasis on this one because communication is often the unseen driver of any business development and on the other side, most of the problems in business do not come from resource-related aspects, but from blank spaces in communication between employer and employees, business and suppliers, business and customers.