Shehran Azim

Shehran Azim

What is the name of the company you worked for and what do they do?

I work for Denso Sales UK Ltd. They are the UK sales arm of Denso, one of the largest automotive parts manufacturers in the world. They are a part of the Toyota Group, but they also make parts for just about every car manufacturer in the world. The UK sales offices primarily handle sales to the UK manufacturing operations of Jaguar-Land Rover, Caterpillar-Perkins, Triumph, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and Aston Martin, among others. Some research and development is also done in the UK, primarily into air conditioning, wipers, and vehicle powertrains.

What is your role within the company?

I am an account management intern for the Nissan/Honda sales team and the Caterpillar-Perkins sales team.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day

There isn’t really a “typical” day. Basically, the only routine thing I do is to make a record of the daily currency exchange rates! Rather, there are typical tasks which often come through with no set frequency. These include:

  • Dealing with orders from Honda R&D and their pre-mass production trial builds.
  • Organising engineering drawings sent from Denso, Perkins and Honda.
  • Planning the logistics of orders (taking into account production lead times, shipping, etc.).
  • Setting up and running the weekly Honda and Perkins team meetings, as well as the monthly sales meetings that review all of DSUK’s performance.
  • Collecting, organising and processing data regarding sales, volumes, forecasts, and material/currency rates.
  • Answer any technical questions regarding our products that the customers may have, as they are often not engineers and would likely not know the inner workings of radiators, alternators, fuel pumps, etc.

So far, what have you enjoyed the most, and did you get involved in any interesting projects?

Before a car goes into mass production, all manufacturers do trial builds. Usually, the parts would go through the standard supply chain, as they would in regular mass production. However, Honda requires suppliers to personally verify part quantity and quality prior to trial build delivery. Thus, I have to travel to our warehouse in Milton Keynes and tag all of the trial build parts to state that I had confirmed their quality and quantity. If required, I have to take photos as proof of inspection of certain parts.

I was requested, by my boss, to make a tool which tracked DSUK’s Honda business revenue, split by part, vehicle type, fuel type, and manufacturing plant. This tool was used to predict which of our manufacturing plants would be affected by future changes in Honda's model mix. I further developed this tool to make it analogous to Denso's Global Sales Plan (allowing us to check for errors in the Global Sales Plan), and also allowed it to be easily used with other customers groups, even those that I am not involved with.

I also created a tool which simulated Honda’s future vehicle production volumes based on current known information, past data, and predictions of future market trends. This tool was used in meetings with Honda UK Manufacturing UK's managing director to discuss their future manufacturing and working plans.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I was very academics-focused and I wanted to gain some proper industrial experience so I could develop myself past the “bookish” knowledge. I also felt that having this experience would make me more attractive to future employers after I finish university. I would also like to do a PhD in the future so a good placement could make it easier for me to get into a PhD program, possibly even funded by the company I work at.

What do you feel you will get out of this experience?

Due to the nature of my work, I definitely think my interpersonal skills will develop greatly, as will my eye for detail. In the short time I have been here, my knowledge of the inner workings of cars, manufacturing processes, financial processes and global economics has also grown, and continues to grow every single day! Also, I was already interested in cars before, but I have definitely become much more of a petrolhead since starting work at Denso! Also, because I'm working in a Japanese company with Japanese people, and dealing with Japanese companies (Honda and Nissan) as customers, I've gained a lot of insight into the Japanese culture and even some knowledge of the language.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Get involved in as many extra-curricular things as possible! Doing well in tests is obviously an advantage, but there will be others who get similar and better grades. Getting involved in societies and committees is a good way to set yourself apart from other candidates, and doing sports/art/music will show yourself to be a well-rounded individual. Having other relevant work experience is a huge benefit, as is research experience: Leeds is packed with plenty of research opportunities! It would also be a good idea to consider industrial placements which are out of your comfort zone. I thought I would rather be in a lab working on programming or CAD projects behind a computer. Instead I’m dealing with customers, carrying out analysis of sales and production figures, and managing manufacturing/logistics processes - and enjoying it! You may also want to look outside your course as well: the other intern here is actually an aerospace engineering student, but is dealing with the sales of Ford’s engine components.