Internship insights in Key Account Management at Henkel CEE GmbH

Hello, I'm Johanna, 21 years old, and I'm currently studying for a Bachelor's degree in Marketing & Sales at CAMPUS 02 UAS. In this article, I'll take you on my journey through my internship in Vienna. For six months, I was able to work for Henkel CEE GmbH in Key Account Management.

How did you find your internship?

The search for an internship took a long time until I came across the job advertisement for an internship in Key Account Management at Henkel via Henkel in Vienna. Although I was originally aiming for a career in marketing, this was the only sales position I applied for. I was accepted shortly afterwards and accepted the position. The selection process included an interview, during which I also had to complete an Excel test. A few days later I received the call with the acceptance.


What is Henkel's daily business?

Henkel is a leading global manufacturer of consumer goods and industrial adhesives with headquarters in Düsseldorf. The headquarters for Austria and the CEE countries are located in Vienna. Henkel's well-known brands include Persil, Schwarzkopf, Fa and many more. The Sales team includes Supply Chain, Customer Service, Key Account Management and Commercial Excellence. In my role in Key Account Management, I supported my superiors in day-to-day business. In Key Account Management, you look after customers - in the case of Henkel, these are retailers.


Describe a typical day in your internship:

During my internship at Henkel, I had the unique opportunity to support the supervising key account managers in their day-to-day business and to take on a variety of tasks in the area of key account management. From planning campaigns for various brands to preparing Nielsen data and carrying out competitor tracking - my area of work was extremely varied and exciting.

One of my main tasks was to plan promotions for retail customers and properly enter quantity estimates into the internal system to ensure timely delivery of goods. In addition, I regularly created presentations based on the instructions of my superiors, which were then presented at customer meetings. Carrying out weekly competitor tracking and preparing sell-in and sell-out analyses were also part of my daily tasks.

Despite my role as an intern, I was in regular contact with customers and dealt with requests for product information and the organisation of raffles. Once a week, we interns carried out a store check to analyse promotions and shelf designs at the point of sale. I also had the opportunity to work from home, so I worked from home two days a week, usually on Mondays and Fridays.


What were your absolute highlights?

The most exciting thing about my internship at Henkel was undoubtedly the intern network. In our Austria team, we were around 12 interns from all over Austria, all of a similar age. As a result, I quickly made friends in Vienna and was able to forge new friendships. There were also around 20 interns from countries such as Italy, Australia and Bulgaria in the overarching CEE team.

I once had the opportunity to take part in a sales forum for Henkel at a commercial site, which was largely organised by the interns. This sales forum was basically a kind of small trade fair where both we and the competition each had a stand. The managing director and the purchasing managers of the trading centre were present, to whom we presented our new products and answered numerous questions. The dialogue was extremely interesting, as the store managers also gave us valuable feedback from customers about the products. We had also prepared a wheel of fortune and various products to try out. This experience enabled me to improve my sales skills in personal interaction. Another clear highlight was the many Henkel products I was given to familiarise myself with the merchandise.


What challenged you?

Before I started my internship, I had considerable doubts as to whether the sales area would suit me at all and whether I would be suitable for it. I feared that I would mainly have to deal with analyses, spend a lot of time in Excel and that the abundance of figures could overwhelm me. In the end, my work actually involved a lot of analyses and a lot of Excel, but the close connection to the products made these analyses extremely fascinating and meaningful.

Looking back, I can say that my concerns were completely unfounded and that I really enjoyed working in Sales.

However, the start of the internship was the biggest challenge for me. The structures and processes are often complex, especially in large corporations, which made me feel a little lost at first. Over time, however, I managed to build up a sound understanding of the company's processes and structures. The fact that I completed my internship over a period of 6 months was a great help, as this understanding takes time.

The opportunity to present a store check to the entire Austria team was both a special challenge and a highlight. About once a month, brand managers and KAMs visited selected retail outlets with the Head of Sales, the Head of Marketing or the General Manager. They were always accompanied by another intern, who recorded all discussions. These findings were then presented at the team meeting, including once by me. I was particularly pleased with the praise I received afterwards from the Head of Sales and the General Manager.


What did you find particularly useful during your internship?

Even during the application process, my ability to calculate market shares and market growth rates was required in the Excel test. In general, the mathematical knowledge I acquired during my studies helped me to make comparisons in analyses or to understand customer calculations.

Tips and tricks for your Kolleg*innen nach dir:

It is advisable not to become too fixated on a specific position, company or department during the application process. Without a degree and professional experience, it is often a question of luck whether you are chosen over other applicants and get a job. It is therefore important to go into an internship with open ears and eyes and to scrutinise the processes. An internship is a great opportunity to gain practical experience and valuable insights. It also offers the opportunity to make important contacts for the future.


Summarise your internship in three words:

  • exciting
  • funny
  • instructive