In the summer of 2014, I traveled to Israel to intern for Gamatronic, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of UPS (uninterruptible power supply) systems.
Their headquarters, where I worked, is located in a high-tech area of Jerusalem called Har Hotzvim. In a sense, it is the “Silicon Valley” of Jerusalem. The company has been around since 1970 and operates in over 80 countries, with other offices in China, the United Kingdom, and Brazil (and soon to be Nigeria). They entered the North American market (USA/Canada) in 2008.
My supervisor was the lead sales representative for the North American sector, and, thus, I was also responsible for this sector. I worked in the Exports department, which dealt entirely with sales outside of Israel. When it came to any region that didn’t have a local Gamatronic office (including North America), Gamatronic had a network of distributors they worked with and relied on to reach all end users (it was only in Israel that Gamatronic worked with end users directly, both for sales and maintenance). As a result, my primary responsibilities were two-fold: make sales calls to potential end users to pass information on to these distributors, and to help with business development in order to gain more distribution in areas not currently represented.
For the sales calls, I was given a project at the onset of my internship to scan through a database of leads for companies and associated representatives in the states of California, Georgia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. I would call the representatives at these companies and try to extract as much information as possible regarding UPS systems. This included the manufacturers they use, distributors they work with (if any), the number of units they use, the size of their data center, dates of installation, and other related information. Depending on how the call went, I would also discuss possible sales and setting up appointments. All of this required technical knowledge of the UPS products that Gamatronic sold to the North American market, as well as UPS and data center knowledge in general (my MIS core corriculum helped with this). The ultimate goal from the calls was to pass on the information extracted to the distributors, from which point the distributor would then contact the end user to either send more information, set up a meeting, or go directly to sales. The industries these companies worked in fell under the categories of financial institutions, healthcare, telecommunications, information technology, education, entertainment, and data centers.
For business development, I would use company resources to search for potential distributors within the USA and Canada that could represent Gamatronic in areas not currently covered. These included areas such as Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Indiana, Upstate New York, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and Quebec. I would make use of Oracle CRM software to cross-reference potential companies I found with the database to make sure the companies weren’t already investigated before. If they weren’t, the companies would be added to the CRM database and contacted by my supervisor.
Besides these two main responsibilities, I also occasionally wrote case studies for Gamatronic as well as updating marketing material on their social media and newsletter. The case studies were written about successful installations at various high-profile companies from around the world, such as Westpac bank in Australia (a Melbourne branch) and St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Phillipines. For the social media, I updated material on their FaceBook and LinkedIn profiles as well as their newsletter.
All in all, I learned a lot from this internship experience. Whether I liked it or not, I learned how to pitch a product to various types of end users and sound convincing, knowledgable, and professional all at the same time. The skills for these types of phone calls are basic but hard to master without practice, and are applicable almost everywhere in the business world. I also learned how to deal with unsuccessful calls and not get angry or upset. The business development made me very familiar with CRM software and I learned the tools that companies such Gamatronic use to seek out business partners and customers. The case studies improved my writing skills tenfold, which I have always considered one of my strong points, but have barely practicied in a business setting as of date. For the social media, I used LinkedIn for the first time ever, which got me familiar with it and made me realize that I need to hop on the bandwagon and start using it immediately as it is an essential networking and business tool. Overall, however, the best experience I got out of the internship was getting an inside look at how a real business operates and having a role within that company. I worked with amazing people, learned valuable information about the industry, and felt like I truly contributed to the daily work flow at Gamatronic; I felt right at home.
The fact that this was an international experience abroad in Israel also affected my outlook in a very positive way. Company culture in Israel is VERY different from the USA (no need for a suit and tie, no filter in communication, etc.), and it was amazing to see how the company operated in over 80 countries, where the USA barely made a contribution to their success (as opposed to the traditional view that the world revolved around the USA). It was also a great learning experience simply commuting and doing work in general in a completely different country. It was shocking for me to find out that internships are almost unheard of in Israel and that I was the first ever intern at the company. I also worked during the midst of a war in the country, Operation Protective Edge (I even hid in a bomb shelter at work once after hearing a rocket siren go off), which was a crazy experience! I loved this international aspect and can definitely see myself working abroad in the future (it’s actually one of my goals).
My time at Gamatronic was rich and rewarding; it is an experience I will never forget.