Internship Focused on Water Strategies
by Kavya Krishna, MBA'12 (7/25/11)
Summer internship with Vestergaard Frandsen, a global company that specializes in disease control products for aid and development.
It is hard to believe that my internship with Vestergaard Frandsen in Washington DC is coming to an end this week. It has been an incredible experience and I find myself wanting to stay longer. Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) is a global company that specializes in disease control products for aid and development. Over the last few months, I had the opportunity to work with two of VF’s products, its portable water filtration device that can sanitize dirty water up to US EPA standards (LifeStraw) and its WHO recommended insecticidal malaria bed nets (PermaNet).
The Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion and its treks played an instrumental role in helping me attain my internship offer with VF. Meeting with the Communications Director of VF on the SGE NYC trek influenced my decision to apply for the internship. In fact, I interviewed with VF in Washington DC during our second SGE trek. Moreover, the Center played an important role in connecting me with Johnson alumni in the DC area, who have been extremely generous with their time and have helped me excel in my internship. Furthermore, as I embark on a project to change the packaging of our product to a compostable one, I am fondly reminded of our discussion of Auden Schendler’s book “Getting Green Done” in the Sustainable Global Enterprise class.
During my internship at VF, I completed two projects. The first project entailed developing a market entry strategy for LifeStraw in the US retail market, which involved analyzing customer segmentation, distribution channels, pricing, competitive analysis, product design, and packaging. The hard work of the team is expected to pay off when LifeStraw hits the retail market next month. My second project was a more broadly defined strategy project related to donor funding for water projects. This involved identifying the right contacts and cultivating relationships with major donor agencies USAID and MCC, to discuss alternative financing mechanisms to fund $980M of overseas water projects. My research on US donor funding allowed the company to fundamentally reshape their sales strategy and pursue new project leads.
Apart from the two projects, I researched and positioned Life Straw for the US emergency response supplies market overseen by FEMA. I also participated in meetings with EPA directors and State regulators to discuss LifeStraw as an interim solution for underserved communities in Texas with poor water infrastructure.
Right from the start, I was considered a full member of the team—not just an intern. I had the opportunity to drive my work, directly engage with clients, and walk away with a clear understanding of what it is like to be part of the VF team. I was impressed by the way the team members challenged each idea and how they encouraged me to sharpen my own ideas. Overall, I was challenged by the work, encouraged and mentored, and given the opportunity to build lasting friendships.