Alex Taggart Customer Management (Sales)

How failing helped me succeed at Unilever

 

I started my second year at University in September 2015 faced with the challenging task of securing a placement for my third year. By November I had applied for over 15 different placements, with a handful of rejections and radio silence from the others. Middle of November came and I started to feel nervous; I was worried I wouldn’t find a placement that would let me achieve what I wanted to achieve – maybe I wouldn’t find one, I remember thinking.

Read more “How failing helped me succeed at Unilever”

Rosie profile pic 2 Business areas

Surviving the Scheme: Rosie Smith, R&D UFLP

So I find myself writing this blog whilst I wait for my flight out to one of Unilever’s regional deploy centres for ice cream in Caivano, Italy. I am now 10 weeks into my first placement and I have been exposed to a whole range of fabulous opportunities, including an induction week in Liverpool, training courses in London, trials in Paris and last but not least, a visit to our ice cream factory in Gloucester. Read more “Surviving the Scheme: Rosie Smith, R&D UFLP”

Ollie Smith-profile Human Resources

Tchaikovsky to TIGI: Ollie Smith, HR UFLP

With a tightening job market, dwindling public support, and cuts from government funding, arts and humanities degrees are struggling to assert their relevance in today’s commercial environment.

Or so people often think.

Whilst students become increasingly concerned about employer opinion and their degree’s potential to land them a job post-graduation, and rightly so, pursuing a degree in the arts or humanities still allows you to develop a wealth of skills, and affords you many experiences on which you can draw, that you can successfully apply in the workplace. Whilst there are a few graduate schemes that demand specific degree subjects from applicants, Unilever is a great example of a business that welcomes applications from any degree type for most of its programmes.

Read more “Tchaikovsky to TIGI: Ollie Smith, HR UFLP”

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Enactus and Unilever

In your time at Unilever as a graduate or placement student, you are set your work goals under a framework known as your “3+1’s” which are linked to the Standards of Leadership (you can find out more about here: http://www.unilever.co.uk/careers-jobs/graduates/application-process/).  Typically, the “3” of the goals are on “main role” at Unilever and the “+1” is your chance to support and develop Unilever’s graduate recruitment goals. This could mean being a part of an on-campus team promoting Unilever at a university or managing the onboarding process for the next group of students and graduates to join. From now on, you’ll also have the opportunity to work in developing Unilever’s relationship with Enactus UK.

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Fleur profile pic Unilever

Fleur – Team Benelux 2015 UFLL

Experience UFLL

Hello all, my name is Fleur and I was a member of the Benelux team earlier this year as part of the Unilever Future Leaders League. Experiencing the Global final of the Future Leaders ‘ League in London was really fantastic and surpassed all my expectations. I met students from (30!) different countries around the world, from the Ivory Coast to Iran to the Philippines. What an incredible international experience! During the UFLL we had conversations with Unilever’s top executives like Paul Polman and, of course, we also attended social events in breathtaking locations during the program. I feel really lucky to have had this experience and to have got to meet so many beautiful and different people from around the world. Even though we were so different, every student shared the same passion to make a positive contribution and create a brighter future.

Team Benelux meeting Paul Polman
Team Benelux meeting Paul Polman

Learning experience

It is extremely valuable to meet Unilever professionals and to get personal and professional advice.  In a very passionate and casual way, they told the participants about the leadership qualities that will be required in the future. It was inspiring to see what an impact such leadership can have on an organization and its people. We noticed that everyone uses this common goal as a guideline to decision-making in all layers of the Organization, creating a more sustainable future with every small steps.

Surprising insight

I had always felt that leadership is only leadership if you have an impact on a lot of people and at least made it on to the 8pm News. Unilever’s FLL showed me that leadership can also be in the small things; in the inspiration and enthusiasm that you transmit to people in for example your sports association, your job or towards your fellow students. Sometimes you give others the nudge in the back without knowing yourself!

Why did you signed up for the FLL

I wanted to orient myself for a worldwide career within FMCG. I did not feel like applying for all the different business competitions organized by the many companies, with students who were most likely just like me (same background, in study and extracurricular activities). When I heard about the Future Leaders ‘ League at Unilever I was extremely excited. A unique concept: a week long global challenge in an international city, trainings and personal talks at the highest level and that together with students from all over the world. Who does not want that?? Looking back on this week, I’m sure that no one should miss this during their student days. I want to encourage everyone to apply, because if you don’t you will regret it for a long time!

UFLP Application

Of course I’m going to apply for the UFLP! After participating in this week there is no doubt about it. If only it is to see all the participants and the organization once more. All participating students are very supportive towards each other, we hope to encounter each other again soon as trainees within Unilever.

(AND SHE GOT IN! SHE IS NOW A MARKETING TRAINEE FOR LIPTON, AND STARTED ON THE 1st OF SEPTEMBER)

If you’re interested in joining the UFLL visit https://unilevereuropefll.com/

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My Summer at Unilever: Dan Seeney, R&D SP

About Me

Hi I’m Dan. I’m currently in my last month working in R&D at Unilever’s Seacroft site in Leeds as part of the summer internship scheme. After I finish my placement in September I will be going back to the University of Sheffield to complete a masters in molecular biology.

Unilever Leeds

Leeds is the GDC for Unilever’s deodorant portfolio. One of its most recent high profile inventions has been the development of compressed aerosol technology which has revolutionised aerosols making them more sustainable for the future and drastically cutting wastage and CO2 emissions which is such a crucial part of Unilever’s sustainability plan.

dove compressed deodorant

A positive about working at this site has been the access to the live factory that produces more than half a billion deodorants a year for global brands including Axe, Dove, Rexona, Vaseline, and Impulse. This access allows you to gain first hand appreciation of how the work you do here can impact the production, as well be giving perspective on the scale of the project you are handling.

My Placement

My placement in packaging development exposed me to new projects that are highly confidential and very interesting. As you can imagine packaging development isn’t at all related to my degree which at first was a little daunting, but after getting in to my projects and being brought up to speed I found myself adapting quickly.

I’ve found myself working mostly in the office, but I have also spent time in the labs. This has really suited me because I would like to move in to a managerial role in the future. Working in packaging is also a very diverse environment with a vast array of projects going on all the time which has given me great exposure to the business side of R&D too.

I have been put in control of organising and driving projects which have enabled me to make contacts all over the world. This exposure to international businessmen/businesswomen from a variety of disciplines has enabled me to grow a more global view of the business and has forced me to adapt the way I engage with people in order to ensure that information is transferred effectively and a common outlook is retained.

Thoughts on the placement

One thing I am amazed at is the level of detail that the company goes to in order to ensure linearity across their suppliers worldwide. The team is constantly travelling to suppliers to ensure they are keeping within the acceptable ranges expected by Unilever. Further to this I also never appreciated how much effort is put in to develop packaging, and how much goes on to drive sustainability that consumers would probably never realise.

Something I have really enjoyed during my placement is the level of responsibility given to me from day one. Within the first few days of starting I was given tasks to complete for a major project within the team. I then got the chance to present my findings to senior stakeholders, which was a great experience to have so early in my placement. As the placement goes on the work level increase as does the level of responsibility, which is a real test as you are always learning new skills rather than on some other placements where you can find yourself shadowing people a lot.

The timing of my placement here was very fortunate with the first few weeks being very busy with the ‘R&D summer event’ where everyone from the site came together to celebrate a successful year. Further to this I was lucky enough to be here for the visit of Alan Jope (President of Unilever’s Personal Care), David Blanchard (Chief R&D Officer), Santiago Iturralde (SVP Deodorants), who gave a great Q&A session, it was interesting to learn about their careers and their opinions on the future of Unilever and was a great way to start the placement. Further to this I’ve also been lucky enough to talk with Alan Palmer (Global Vice President R&D, Deodorants) and former UFLP graduates (some who are now managers) within the company and getting some very valuable advice on careers in Unilever. Being able to network with people in these positions from very early on has given me great insight in to what I can expect from a career in Unilever as well as how to get the most out of it and reach my goals.

Top Tip

My top tips for working at Unilever would definitely be to meet as many people as possible from the start. Throw yourself in to your projects and make as many new contacts as possible. If you can get involved with training, or other projects that aren’t directly related to your goals then do because it gives you a more rounded view of what goes on in R&D. Further to this, don’t shy away from any responsibility, I remember on my first day my line manager told me to ‘fill my boots’ and I have tried my best to do just that, throwing myself in wherever possible.

The best tip though, is to simply enjoy it. Everyone here is really welcoming and friendly and is a testament to the recruitment process that everyone fits in to the team so well. It’s coming to the end of my placement now and I don’t want it to end, I feel settled in to the team and enjoying my work. It will be a huge shame to not see some of the long term projects through.

My Favourite thing about Unilever

My favourite thing about Unilever has to be the social atmosphere. The relaxed nature of the company has allowed me to feel relaxed and able to thrive in this fairly different environment. I have found the sociable nature of my colleagues really helpful as I know that if I require any help then everyone is available and more than happy to help, or point me in the direction of someone else who could help.

Closing Remarks

I hope to apply to the graduate scheme after my placement and take advantage of the fast track on to the UFLP which is a very attractive prospect for me. I look forward to the selection process again as I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last time, and hopefully this placement won’t be the last time I work within Unilever.

I recommend this placement to everybody. Unilever is well deserving in its rank as one of the best graduate employers and you will be able to tell from day one that their goal is to not only test you, but to improve you as well. I didn’t know the FMCG industry particularly well before I joined, I now see it as a potential long term career path.

Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck with your applications and potential career in Unilever.

future Application Tips

Top 10 Tips for Graduate Job Hunters

Hi All,

We all know that job hunting as a graduate isn’t easy. The process is constantly growing in length with extensive application forms, multiple psychometric tests, telephone interviews and of course, extremely demanding selection boards. The process is most definitely challenging and on top of other deadlines that you may be facing (exams, coursework deadlines etc.) it can be a stressful time. As a recent graduate who started at Unilever in 2013 I remember clearly the pressure of job-hunting and the challenges it created. I thought therefore it would be helpful to offer my top ten tips for graduate job-hunters. Some are specific to Unilever and some are slightly more general. These are by no means the holy grail of securing a graduate job but hopefully for those who are feeling the strain they may help;

Read more “Top 10 Tips for Graduate Job Hunters”

david.niikonvscanon-500x288 Human Resources

What does it take to be a future Human…

david.niikonvscanon-500x288‘I love working with people’ – that often heard phrase from those considering a career in HR is a good place to start but it is simply not enough. I have recently joined the HR graduate programme and have quickly learnt that beyond your people skills, HR professionals need to have a strategic mindset and a strong grasp of systems.

It is a really exciting time to be considering a career in HR. HR has moved in recent years from simply being a support area in an organisation to adding real value, by helping to make strategic decisions for the whole organisation at the most senior levels.

If you fancy the idea of sitting at that board room table, Professor David Ulrich is the “go to” man for understanding what it takes to make it big in HR. Here are the 6 core competencies (strengths) that Ulrich and his team have identified amongst high-performing HR professionals, and my own reflections on what that might mean for you if you’re looking to apply for graduate roles:

Credible Activist This is extremely important. Being a credible activist means that you should be able to get along well with people and easily gain people’s trust. One of the best pieces of advice I have been given about being a credible activist, is to come to situations not only with options but with recommendations and be willing to state your opinion.

Cultural Steward Culture is an important area for HR and you should already have an awareness of how different teams you are part of function and understand what it means to motivate people.

Talent Manager/Organizational Designer You’ll exhibit this if you enjoy helping to develop people. If you have been on a committee or part of a team at university you might display this competency if you have helped to structure the team and its tasks so that it worked at its best.

Strategy Architect That this competency is on the list reflects the fact that HR leaders need to recognise business trends and understand their impact. Whilst at university you may have come across problems that forced you to look at the big picture to form a strategy of how to deal with them. It is good if you can do this and if you have a broad interest in business.

Business Ally To be successful, your understanding needs to go beyond the specifics of HR to an understanding of the business, its strategy and the finances. Although HR is often seen as internally facing, you should have a strong interest in our consumers.

Operational Executor This competency refers to the basic HR skills. The Unilever Graduate Programme fast tracks you to a management role but you must still be able to absorb all of the important HR transactions.

If having the opportunity to learn business fast and develop those key HR skills sounds appealing then don’t hesitate to look at the HR area of the Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP)

Eleanor, 1st year HR Grad

(Thanks to David.NikonvScanOn on Flickr for the photo)