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Updated: May 13th, 2022

Executive Summary

I have had the privilege to work for Exide Technologies Canada Corporation during the 2013 spring work term as an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op student from… University. Exide Technologies Canada Corporation distinguishes itself as among the leaders in making and selling lead-acid batteries. The company also recycles the batteries. Exide Technologies’ operations are structured into two major divisions; transportation and GNB. The transportation division produces automotive, heavy-duty, marine, specialty, and niche batteries, while the GNB division handles batteries for industrial electric vehicles and critical systems that require an uninterrupted power supply.

I was hired by Exide Technologies to take on the role of a Category Analyst, with the primary duty of assisting the Marketing and Sales team increase overall sales and profitability. I was accountable for conducting research, analyzing and evaluating market information, and creating and analyzing sales reports. One of the major projects that I was given was to analyze the effect of weather temperature (°C) on battery sales and predict future sales based on these findings.

Completing two years of the Honours Bachelor of Business Administration program at… University prepared me well to be a Category Analyst at Exide Technologies. The business program taught me both hard and soft skills that I transferred to my role as a Category Analyst. Hard skills include theories and concepts such as correlation coefficients and computer literacy. Soft skills incorporate skills such as attention to detail and dedication.

I was very grateful that Exide allowed me to accomplish my learning objectives set at the beginning of the term. The objectives included enhancing time management skills, Microsoft Excel Skills, communication skills, analytical skills, and forecasting skills. Apart from these learning objectives, I also developed effective training skills, excellent e-mail etiquette habits, and overcame the fear of asking questions. All the lessons learned from Exide are beneficial as they are transferable to my education at…, future career, and personal life.

This being my second year of study at…, I am still in the process of deciding the right career path to take. I have had the opportunity to meet with chartered accountant, Priscilla Leung, from KPMG to get a deeper understanding of the profession. I learned from her how to become a chartered accountant and some of the advantages and disadvantages of being in the accounting field. I was very happy with my interview with Priscilla as her opinions affected my decision to become a chartered accountant in a positive way.

Overall, my time working at Exide Technologies was remarkable; the people were nice, my supervisor had taught me more than I could have ever imagined, and I got firsthand experience of what it is like to work in a business environment. I cannot thank Exide Technologies and my supervisor enough for giving me this great opportunity and teaching me valuable skills and lessons.

Description of the Job as a Category Analyst Coordinator

The role of Category Analyst Coordinator at Exide Technologies Corporation Canada had the primary responsibility of assisting the Marketing and Sales team in increasing overall sales and profitability for the company. As a Category Analyst, I was accountable for three broad duties: Conducting research, analyzing and evaluating market information, and creating and analyzing sales reports in order to support marketing and sales initiatives.

Conducting Research

My biggest project at the company was to analyze and illustrate the effect of temperature (°C) on overall battery sales. After finding that there was a strong relationship between temperature and sales based on historical data, I conducted research to learn and understand the different ways of predicting sales based on forecasted temperature and presented my findings to my supervisor.

Analyzing and Evaluating Market Information

In terms of evaluating market information, my task was to collect Canadian market data over a twelve-year span on the number of vehicles in operation (VIO) by Battery Council International (BCI). With this data, I determined whether the number of vehicles by battery group size was increasing, decreasing, or staying constant. This analysis assisted the sales team in determining which batteries they should promote and where they should promote them.

Creating and Analyzing Sales Reports

I had to produce meaningful and valuable sales reports by manipulating raw data, such as point of sale transactions, shipments, and returns. I displayed data in different ways, depending on what the sales team was looking for. Examples of the different reports involved displaying sales by units, sales by dollars, sales by region, sales by store, overall sales for all customers, sales for a specific customer, sales for a specific time, and sales by battery category. Others included sales by product number, sales in comparison to last year, as well as sales in comparison to the week before, and sales versus returns, among many others. Charts, tables, graphs, and percentage rates were used to display sales in a more meaningful manner. In addition to producing sales reports, I added analysis and insight into what all the data meant. It involved exercises such as depicting the battery categories that were increasing or decreasing, how much the differences in sales were when comparing to previous weeks or years, why these changes in sales occurred, and where the company needed to improve in order to maintain or increase profits.

I was responsible for running a weekly point-of-sale (POS) report for Canadian Tire that displayed the number of battery units they sold for every battery category. This report looked at multiple pieces of information, such as current week sales, last year’s week sales, month to date sales, year to date sales, 52-week sales averages, and 12-week sales averages. Analyses of this report included percentages changes when comparing current week versus last year’s week, month to date versus last year’s month to date, and year to date versus last year’s year to date.

Another report I ran weekly was the “Core Target Report.” Exide’s batteries are ninety-five percent recyclable, and the company tries to get as many core (old/used) battery returns as possible in order to save on costs of producing. This report was created to provide the Operations team with information on how many core batteries we wanted our truck drivers to pick up from Canadian Tire stores that week.

A bi-weekly report I ran for the Operations team was the “Core Return vs. POS and Shipments by Driver.” This report looked at how many core battery returns the truck drivers actually picked up from the Canadian Tire stores.

I ran a monthly report for Canadian Tire so that they could see how many cores they had returned to us. This report showed the cores returned to Exide from Canadian Tire by month and year to date, units shipped to Canadian monthly and year to date, and the return rate as a percentage.

The last standard monthly task I had was to update sales reports for Exide’s OE (Original Equipment) and OES (Original Equipment Manufacturer) customers. This report showed what Exide shipped to the OE/OES customers and what these customers returned to Exide.

I was also assigned the role of assisting Operations to determine if the company was delivering its products to customers on time. This was done by producing a report that compared the company’s on-time deliveries to late arrivals at customers’ stores, and at what percentage the company was not delivering products on time.

Reflection and Analysis

Academic Preparation

Statistical Skills

The Managerial Statistics course (EC255) taken in the second year has given me the ability to analyze the effect of weather conditions on battery sales. When I was looking at the weather temperature in comparison to battery sales, I had to determine whether there was a relationship between the two. This is when the concept from the statistics course called “correlation coefficient” came into play. The correlation coefficient is a numerical value that displays the degree to which a relationship exists between two variables. I was able to discover the fact that a strong relationship existed (correlation coefficient of 0.7) when I calculated the correlation coefficient between temperature (°C) and automotive battery sales. This meant that fifty percent of the total variation in sales could be explained by the variation in temperature.

Technical Computer Skills

The course I took in the first year, Information Processing with Microcomputer Systems (CP102), was very beneficial in my role as a Category Analyst because it gave me a strong understanding of the Microsoft Office software, which I used daily at Exide. CP102 taught me the basic skills needed to manipulate raw data through formulas, pivot tables, graphs, and charts.

Attention to Detail Skills

One important skill that I picked up from the Introduction to Financial Accounting (BU227) and Introduction to Management Accounting (BU247) courses that helped me at Exide was attention to detail. These two courses taught me that a single incorrect number or any missing number can throw off the result tremendously. The same concept applied to all the reports that I ran at Exide. If you forgot little details, such as dragging a formula down, refreshing a pivot table, or changing a date, your result would be far off from the actual results, and it would not be a good representation. Being attentive to detail allowed me to catch small errors in the reports I ran. Attention to detail also allowed me to be confident in the work I sent out internally and externally.

Dedication

Having completed two years at…, I have learned that dedication is a quality one needs in order to succeed. In terms of school, dedication means giving a lot of your time, energy, attention, and efforts to working hard, studying, and doing assignments. At…, I have learned that it is impossible to achieve one’s targeted result if one is not dedicated to what one is doing. One cannot be able to graduate and get their degree if they do not do their work and studies with seriousness. I have applied these dedication skills to my co-op job at Exide by going to work every day, producing high-quality work in every report I create, and coming up with valuable analyses. I was able to achieve my intended results by undertaking all these steps. I was able to gain valuable real working experience and complete a co-op work term successfully.

Five Learning Objectives and Other Skill Development

Time Management Skills

Going into my co-op job at Exide, I knew I wanted to strengthen my time management skills because I always postponed my job. It was very important to know how to manage and balance my time when working at Exide because there were many reports and other requests that needed to be sent out by certain dates and times. As the days went by at Exide, I was asked to complete more and more tasks within a shorter period. It was challenging to remember all of these tasks and deadlines because they were too many. However, I was able to come up with a system, and I was able to manage multiple tasks at once. I was also able to meet every deadline. I would write a list of tasks to be done, followed by when each task was due, and how long each task would take in order to meet each deadline. Tasks would be checked off the list as soon as they would be completed. The list ensured that I would not forget any task. It also ensured that I met each deadline.

Time management will help me be successful at… because I need to manage my time effectively between five courses, any assignment deadlines, midterms, and final exams.

Microsoft Excel Skills

My first week at Exide was challenging because all the tasks that I was assigned were Microsoft Excel-based, a software that I only knew at the basic level. I watched many Excel tutorials online, read Excel blogs, and used Google as a helpful tool to learn different functions. I gained knowledge in Excel with each passing day. This enabled me to manipulate data simply to create complex sales reports for the Marketing and Sales team. Practical use of the software was of great benefit to me because I got firsthand experience in learning. I have learned how to use various formulas and functions, such as lookups, hlookups, right, left, mid, len, correl, average, concatenate, max, min, linest, and pivot tables, just to name a few. I have gained a lot of knowledge in Excel such that my supervisor said I could be classified as having advanced Excel skills.

Communication Skills

I am generally a very shy person, and I wanted to improve my interpersonal communication skills by becoming more open and confident when speaking to others. Although I am still below 100% confident when speaking to others, I can safely say that I am much more comfortable doing it. I was able to reach the “comfortable” stage by taking initiative in talking to my colleagues regularly, initiating conversations, and joining in on conversations when it was appropriate to join.

Being able to open up to others is a skill that will be of benefit during my time at… as I am often challenged with being put with a group of strangers whom I have to work with. Having greater interpersonal communication skills will allow me to share ideas, assign tasks to others, set up meetings, and provide feedback to my team members.

Analytical Skills

I have gained extensive knowledge on how to analyze marketing and sales data throughout my work term at Exide. I would take a moment to look at the data in detail and provide analysis, comments, and recommendations to engage in broader thinking, instead of just completing the report requested and sending it off as it was. For example, I would make note of where and when sales went up or down, why these sales were fluctuating, and what the percentage change was in comparison to previous data, such as last week, last month, or last year.

Forecasting Skills

I was most intrigued by the project of establishing forecasting tools when I read the job description of a Category Analyst. I knew right away that I wanted to learn how to forecast future sales for the company. I did a lot of research to learn and understand how to predict sales based on temperature after I found that there was a moderate to strong correlation between temperature and sales. I was able to utilize Excel’s data analysis add-in, trend function, and linear equations to predict and graph a whole year’s worth of sales after gathering historical sales data and normal temperature information.

Other Skills Developed

In addition to attaining each of my learning objectives, I developed effective training skills, gained excellent e-mail etiquette, and overcame the fear of asking questions. I also learned how to build rapport as a way of enhancing performance.

I got the opportunity to learn how to teach by training a new co-op student through transferring all my knowledge, skills, and competencies as a Category Analyst to her. Having gone through the process of training her on the five standard reports I ran, I learned how to be clear when explaining concepts in a way that the trainee would be able to understand. I also noted some of the critical areas in that learners are likely to experience challenges and how the same can be overcome. I asked the student to explain to me in her own words what each report was about to see if I trained the student well. I also directed her to run the reports on her own.

E-mailing many different people on a daily basis in a professional environment allowed me to develop a good habit of using proper e-mail etiquette. I learned that good e-mail etiquette demonstrates professionalism and efficiency mainly because people are more willing to read brief and to-the-point messages. It also enhanced my communication skills to a great extent, only tackling relevant issues in a precise manner. Precise points help in avoiding much jargon that may only end up distorting facts.

My supervisor noticed that I was afraid of asking questions throughout my first couple of weeks at Exide. She explained to me the many benefits of asking people questions, one of them being that it makes life easier because I do not have to figure every problem out on my own when someone has a simple answer. She told me to overcome my fear because I had nothing to lose, everyone needed help, and people were willing to help. The supervisor provided me with many opportunities to ask people questions in order to help me overcome my fear. It did not matter whether I was asking the accountant about her career since that is what I was interested in or asking people for clarification when they sent me report requests.

Recommendations

Tips for Future Exide Co-op Students

Create “To-Do” Lists

As a Category Analyst, you will be asked to do many tasks at once and it becomes difficult to manage everything. I suggest that you create a list of what needs to be done and when it is due in order to remember all the tasks. The to-do list is a kind of a plan that directs you on how to utilize time resources effectively, which is a very important step.

Take an Excel Class

Working as a co-op student at Exide means that you will be working with Microsoft Excel daily. All reports are done on Excel, and it is required to know how to use it well. Taking an Excel course will allow you to learn functions that will be used a lot to create reports.

Ask Questions/Ask for Help

The standard reports done on a weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly basis are fair of a complex concept because of the different data sources used and the logic on why the report is set up that way. It is highly recommended that you ask questions right away when you find something unclear because once you fail to understand one thing, you will not understand the next. Reacting immediately when you notice some difficulties is critical in the sense that it protects you from making additional mistakes, which would only compound the whole problem.

Network with Other Departments

Talking to people outside of your own department allows you to gain a better understanding of how all of the departments link together and see how the company works as a whole.

Create Interpersonal Relationships

It is important to create interpersonal relationships with your colleagues because you are with them for forty hours a week. Creating friendships at work makes going to work enjoyable because you are going to a place where there are people you want to see. It makes you relate easily with your colleagues, while they also feel the fact that you are approachable and easy to work with.

Share Ideas

If you have an idea or suggestion, share it. Oftentimes, you may think of a brilliant idea that was unthought-of, and you should avoid regretting not sharing the idea. Everyone is always willing to consider your ideas. Besides, sharing an idea also helps one to learn a new thing that was not anticipated before. For instance, I may be sitting on an idea thinking it is best that I can apply while working on my own, yet others could have tried it before and realized its shortcoming. Thus, sharing the idea opens up the opportunity for greater learning.

Double Check your Work

It is vital to double-check the work you produce before sending it out because, oftentimes, it is passed through many different people. People base many of their business decisions on the reports you create, thus you should not be the one to provide faulty data.

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