A Co-op Featuring Big Responsibilities at an Even Bigger Company
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What’s it like doing a co-op with Mars Drinks of Mars Inc., a company named the 20th-best multinational workplace by Fortune and sixth on Forbes’ list of the largest U.S. privately held companies?
Well, you become part of a team of eight people who work across the Atlantic Ocean, for starters.
Being project manager for the team based in the United Kingdom was just one of the many projects and responsibilities handled by Roger Kfoury, a junior marketing and legal studies major, while he worked as an innovation management coordinator co-op at Mars Drinks.. During his six-months at the company headquartered in nearby West Chester, Pennsylvania, that produces Flavia coffee machines, teas, coffees, and hot chocolates, Kfoury helped push products through the pipeline to development. He was the first co-op ever hired in that project management and global marketing role.
“I lead a team of full-time employees to do a small project on a current product, just to rework it and generate some value,” Kfoury said. “We ended up saving close to $70,000 a year moving forward, which was pretty nice.”
Because of the time difference between Kfoury and his team, he sometimes had to arrive at work by 7 a.m. to work with the U.K. office for four or five hours before noon, when everyone there went home.
To manage the team, Kfoury used his experiences from classes he took at Drexel.
“There were several Drexel classes put together that helped make that project on my co-op be so much easier and helped me be successful in it,” he said.
A consulting class from his sophomore year gave him his first taste of working with another large American division of a multinational company, Mazda North America. He learned how to use Gantt charts, timelines and to handle overlapping tasks.
An operations management course taught him the basics of working with inventory.
Kfoury also received some on-the-job training as well, though it was in an area he never expected to become an expert in.
“I went to tea and coffee school, where I learned all about how tea and coffee are produced and how to taste them and how to understand them,” Kfoury said. “That was all on top of my day job, too.”
For the first two months of his co-op, Kfoury participated in a conformance panel, where standard “cuppings” are performed to ensure that products meet the company’s gold standard. Three days a week, he tasted samples of the company’s coffees to ensure that the taste and quality were consistent. He also participated in sensory testing for chocolate produced by Mars’ M&M chocolate factory in Hackettstown, New Jersey, where he sometimes worked offsite because it was close to his parents’ house.
Beside the project management opportunity and endless samples of teas, coffees and candies, Kfoury stressed that the company’s culture and environment were the best parts of his co-op.
“It’s crazy that I worked at this massive multi-national company and it felt like a family business,” Kfoury said. “The global marketing team let me talk and work with a lot of the other teams that do the functions that I also want to explore. They let me drift around and listen and understand what other people were doing. It was very inclusive and very, very rewarding."
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