Tesco Labs India – Graduate Placement Program

Tesco Labs India recently launched a first-of-its kind initiative, conducting a six-week placement programme for the technology graduates who joined us from premier institutes across the country.

The initiative launched at Tesco Bengaluru, where 48 graduates learnt and put into practice product management, design thinking and engineering skills to build working prototypes.  This programme was largely run by Krishnan Ramaswami and Jamie Holmes with the support of the Tesco Labs team and many mentors from across our Technology teams.

The objectives of the Lab Placement Programme were:

    1. To get graduates used to lean ways of working
    2. Introduce the graduates organically to the retail business and functions
    3. Instil an innovation mindset from the very start of their careers at Tesco

The graduates were divided into teams, and challenged to create their own innovative solutions to existing problems experienced by Tesco customers and colleagues. 11 teams were created with graduates from different schools, with varying and complementary skill sets. We kicked the program off with a range of workshops designed to help the graduates navigate through various stages of the programme.

The first was a Design Thinking Workshop, which I was pleased to conduct. “Design Thinking” uses design techniques to solve problems innovatively. It takes a human-centred, rather than a technology-centred approach and has clear stages that help navigate around common innovation dilemma. The aim of this was to give the graduates a taste of the entire placement in 1 day, going through the main phases of Understand, Diverge, Decide, Prototype, Validate and Reiterate.

Second was our Engineering Workshop. This was designed to help the graduates get used to working with Tesco’s APIs. Thanks to Deepsona Das and Nitin Gupta for running this.

The UX Workshop helped the graduates understand concepts like wireframing and information architecture, and was led by Harry Betteridge who conducted this session remotely from UK.

And finally, our Product Management Workshop gave an introduction to Product Management; thanks to Hemanth Kota and Aviral Gupta for conducting this session.

Various HoSDs and Directors then gave a list of problem statements which were abstracted to 6 more generic problem statements. The teams were then asked to research these topics and present their findings to the rest of the cohort. This gave each team enough information on all problem statements to enable them to choose which they were most interested in pursuing. The graduates then selected their top 3 choices, from which they were assigned 1 problem statement per team.

The teams began working through the various phases of the design thinking session – Understand, Diverge, Decide, Prototype. Every Friday they presented their progress back to the Tesco Labs team and tried to integrate any notes or feedback they received. Great care was taken not to push the teams towards any ideas, so they could develop their own way of thinking and working.

Towards the end of the programme, on 24 August, the Tesco Labs India team organised a Demo Day, where the graduate teams’ innovative prototypes were showcased for our colleagues at Tesco Bengaluru. We were delighted with the turnout of more than 400 people!

The teams have come up with an amazing range of ideas:

  1. Jetsons – Automatic ‘romanticizing’ of product descriptions
  2. AJACs – Electronic glove to help the blind locate products
  3. Backbench Studios – Digital assistant to be used by customers in store
  4. Silver Stars – Crowd sourced gap scan from customers
  5. Grey Matter – Block chain to track products through the supply chain
  6. Bits Please – Smart recruiter chat bot (candidate interaction)
  7. Narcodes – Gap prediction algorithm
  8. COEUS – Recruitment referral recommendation & personality performance matching
  9. SARK – Demand forecasting for clothing (F&F)
  10. C Squad – Real time clearance forecasting system
  11. Targaryen – Supplier queries chatbot

and we’re all looking forward to seeing what they will present at their final task – pitching to our Technology Leadership Team on 26 September!