If opportunity does not knock, build a door with BAT written on it.
As a fresh university graduate, joining BAT Bangladesh as a Global Graduate in Finance was a major turning point in my life. In Bangladesh, the opportunity to work at a prominent multinational organisation is every business graduate’s aspiration, with BAT being at the top of the list. I am a very competitive person, and that led me to participate in all the major business competitions back in university. The most important competition for me was Battle of Minds, as it helped me to hone a wide range of skills, but most crucially, it fast-tracked my journey of joining BAT as a Global Graduate.
My first impression of the Finance team left me in awe. Everybody was incredibly capable and had a wealth of knowledge, which was very impressive. My teammates were always right around the corner to support my integration into the corporate world and help my personal development. The early experience here was invaluable as it helped me to grasp the value of contributing to major business outcomes and communicating with a myriad of stakeholders.
In the first year, I learned the intricacies of Commercial and Operation Finance, and actively contributed to the development of the Finance team, by organising social events such as team dinners and a FIFA (video game) tournament, as well as driving a department-wide forum called the Finance Expresso. While the aspect of continuously being able to learn from everyone remained consistent, I observed major transformations in myself as a professional. It was at this stage that I came across the exciting opportunity to work with the Btomorrow Ventures (BTV) team, in the corporate venture capital arm of BAT, as the last rotation of my Global Graduate scheme.
The opportunity to work in venture capital (VC) and, not only that, but with a renowned global team, is rare at such an early stage of one’s career. I welcomed this wholeheartedly, and in the very first week, the BTV team reciprocated with introduction calls from the entire team at all levels. Every new task with this diverse group of people has been educational and fun, but I think working at BTV provides the perfect balance of learning how to GET THINGS DONE and maximising both personal and professional development. From the very beginning, the team was trying to discover my areas of interest to give me opportunities to work on things that would be best for me.
I have always been interested in VCs which support and shape cutting-edge ideas into transformational businesses, with an inclination towards ESG innovation. I was assigned to both the investment team to support Wellbeing & Stimulation developments for BAT, and to the BTV ESG Labs team to support sustainability projects. The work was very interesting, but I had to learn most of the new tasks from scratch and adapt to the preferred ways of working of the team. In the first couple of months, I spent a lot of time trying to develop the capabilities of an analyst and had to adjust my working hours to be more present. This helped me to improve the quality of my work and contribute more meaningfully to the team.
The highlight of my experience has been working on a new investment deal and partnership with a sustainable seaweed-based packaging company - FlexSea (located in the UK, it was the global winner of Battle of Minds 2022). To support the deal, I worked on the business model and financial valuation and contributed to crucial elements of the Commercial and ESG due diligence. The whole journey was empowering and the cherry on top was when we closed the deal with FlexSea in July 2023.
BTV has played a key role in Battle of Minds (BOM), a competition very close to my heart, since 2021. The team has supported BOM by providing expert sessions on how to deliver a perfect pitch as well as providing seed funding for the winners of the competition. I had the opportunity to work on this year’s BOM and was the BTV representative speaker in the virtual global launch. The competition has seen an increase in exciting business ideas and start-ups since BTV’s involvement, with 33% more teams participating in 2023. While it was already an honour to support the competition, I am now excited to see who among the 2,596 teams from 31 countries, end up being finalists this year.
It is difficult to contain my overall experience into any one piece of writing. Besides the valuable learning opportunities, the BTV team genuinely appreciates diversity. Despite working remotely from Bangladesh - with one visit to London to meet the team in person - BTV always made me feel at home by celebrating my cultural festivals and taking an interest in my daily life here. The professional capability and self-confidence I have gained by working at BAT and BTV will be pivotal to the future of my career, and I strongly urge younger Global Graduates to seek this truly life-changing opportunity going forwards.
Since finishing my six months with BTV, in Summer 2023 I started my first permanent role with BAT, as Assistant Commercial Finance Manager – Operations Reporting, in Bangladesh. I am psyched to put my diverse learnings and experiences as a Global Graduate to the test and redefine the new role.