My name is Tatiana Pechagina, I am a student of Internatonal Business program. In the third year of my studies, I took a practical training as an Administrative Intern in the Obelis s.a. company, Brussels, Belgium. Obelis European Authorized Representatives Center (O.E.A.R.C.) is a company providing European Authorized Representative services and “EU Responsible Person” services aimed at Non-EU & EU Manufacturers. Since early 1996, in response to the EEC mandatory requirement for non-European manufacturers to appoint an Authorized Representative established within the European Community, Obelis s.a. launched O.E.A.R.C.- Obelis European Authorized Representative Center. Obelis operates as one of the largest regulatory centers in Europe today, providing CE marking advisory services & Authorized Representative services for Medical Devices, In-Vitro Diagnostics and other NEW Approach Directives (aimed at the CE marking) as well as “EU Responsible Person” aimed at Cosmetic services. My training lasted for 6 months, from January till July 2018, and became not only enriching and useful, but also a really enjoyable experience.
First of all, the practical training process was very well-organized. Obelis s.a. has a big experience of taking Erasmus interns and runs a wonderful training which supports smooth integration into the company’s operations. It was important for me as this training was my first work experience.
In relation to my tasks, I would divide them into two categories: supporting an ongoing business processes within Administrative department and completing a so-called Bad payers project. Concerning the first task, my everyday responsibilities included:
1) Support Administration department on client management;
2) Manage client accounts, documents and binders offline and online;
3) Support Administration department on managing contractual arrangements with suppliers/customers;
4) Arrange department files electronically as well as uploading documents to shared software database and Client Management System;
5) Provide additional support to all Obelis departments, if required.
In terms of the Bad Payers project, this part of my training requires some additional explanation. Due to the nature of Obelis’ business, the majority of the company’s clients are located outside the European Union. In some cases, it creates problems in establishing a smooth, uninterrupted communication flow with them. The problem becomes especially severe when clients do not receive outstanding invoices – or do not pay them on time. Another problem partially caused by incorrect contact details is inability to reach some clients in order to get an update on their current status towards Obelis. Some companies start their cooperation with the European Authorized Representative/Responsible Person (the role of Obelis) before obtaining the CE marking, which is required to start the sales in the European Union. These clients get under the “Freeze mode” package: they do not pay monthly fees towards Obelis until they get the CE marking. However, the Freeze mode can be valid only for a limited amount of time – after that, the client should be contacted in order to activate the account or extend the Freeze mode. The clients under Freeze mode are considered by the company as “noncontributing clients”, and their number should be decreased in order to increase Obelis revenues. For this reason, it is important to reach out these clients timely in order to update their status.
In Obelis, Administrative department is responsible for reaching customers, informing them about outstanding fees or expiration of the Freeze mode package, and collecting the payments. Throughout the project, I supported the department in reaching these goals. First, I contacted all clients with outstanding fees by phone, informed them about the payment due, learned about the reasons of non-payment, agreed on the scheduled payment date, and then followed-up with emails in order to encourage them to pay, Second, I contacted the clients under Freeze mode, found out the current status of their CE marking, the scheduled audit dates, and offered them the most suitable solution depending on their situation.
Throughout the project, I was constantly involved in B2B negotiations with multinational clients, which allowed me to develop international communication, negotiation and presentation skills and improve abilities in providing excellent B2B customer service. I had an opportunity to enhance problem solving and analytical skills as well as understanding of the nature of regulatory business practices. Thus, the project provided an excellent practical experience and allowed me to develop a number of transferable skills, beneficial for my future career.
All things considered, I find the practical training experience not only fruitful for my development as an expert, but also useful for the understanding of my future career path. Besides, I believe it is a strong point of my CV, which has already helped me to get a job that I enjoy now.
Author: Tatiana Pechagina