Tara Ennis profile Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Port Sunlight, the birthplace of Unilever: Tara Ennis, BTM…

Hello, I am Tara and I am on a Business and Technology Management (BTM) Industrial Placement. Doing a degree in Sustainable Development and Politics at the University of Edinburgh you may be wondering how I ended up in Business and IT function. Well truthfully, it was not solely the function that attracted me to the scheme; it was also my pure fascination and appreciation for the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan that drew me in. That being said, I will leave my personal story for a later date because as I am based in Port Sunlight, the birthplace of Unilever, I feel it is only appropriate to dedicate my inaugural post to our founder, Lord Lever-Hulme himself.

William Lever, the son of a humble grocer, was a visionary and progressivist whose legacy not only radiates through Unilever today, but can be seen throughout corporate and union strategies worldwide. From an economic perspective, his initial success was born out of Sunlight Soap – the first ever individually wrapped soap bars. Who knew, a commodity we take for granted today was considered so revolutionary just over a century ago? However, although his economic legacy rests in a company whose revenues topped £48 billion last year; what makes me (and many others) proud to be a Unilever employee is the social legacy he leaves behind.

After Sunlight soap took off, and his factory in Warrington was running at full capacity, Lever began looking for a new premises. The plot of land he chose was ideal: near a potential source of labour in neighbouring Birkenhead, with road, rail and water access, and located just off the banks of the Mersey River. Port Sunlight had found its home. However, Port Sunlight was never to be just a factory. Being a great believer in the idea that healthy labourers were more productive he pioneered the concept of employee welfare. Within a couple of years he had built an entire village of 900 homes to house employees from across his business. At a time of vast industrial revolution, where disparities and poverty were vast, Port Sunlight was considered utopian in comparison to average living standards. With a hospital, fire station, manicured gardens, leisure facilities, and schools, workers never needed to leave. In their village, where they both lived and worked, they were guaranteed a decent standard of living and better quality of life.

Port Sunlight Fire brigade
Port Sunlight Fire brigade

The village and original factory site remain almost identical to the time of their construction. Port Sunlight has been declared a Conservation Area since 1978 and has strict upkeep regulations in order to retain the character of the village. Work ethic within Unilever also remains central to Lever’s vision with a high emphasis on employee wellbeing and welfare. Simply walking through the village is a living reminder of Lever’s efforts to build the company we know and love today. If anything it makes me proud to work for a company who is founded on its progressivist thinking whilst staying true to its historical legacy. And to be reminded of that every morning is a pure joy.


Port Sunlight village
Port Sunlight village

If Lord Lever were to enter 21st century Port Sunlight, aside from the various mod-cons, I like to think he would be walking into an office not much different than the one he created in the late 1800s. Now that is a legacy to be proud of.

Lever House Exterior: then (R) and now (L)
Lever House Exterior: then (R) and now (L)
Entrance Vestibule: then and now
Entrance Vestibule: then and now
Tom 1 Business & Technology Management (BTM)

My First 6 Weeks in BTM: Tom Heywood, SP

Hi everyone, I’m Tom and I am currently doing a summer placement in BTM.

It was only on my induction day that I found out just how broad the roles within BTM actually were. I was going to be working in Consumer IT, the worry about my ineptitude at coding set in! What had I done? I haven’t done IT since GCSE!

My first day however quickly alleviated my fears with my line manager explaining what the role of IT within BTM actually is. Consumer IT requires you to be a problem solver, partnering with brands globally to manage projects and develop solutions to allow the business to grow in a changing marketplace (not the coding and software development I had feared!!!).

My role is within the global sustainability and traceability team under the wide reaching umbrella of Consumer IT.  Partnering with technology providers like Vodafone to deliver IT innovation to the business and the brands.


Networking was one of the most important tasks of my first weeks, meeting the team and other employees from across from the business helped me quickly learn about the company’s culture. The friendly ‘Unilever people’ speed the settling in process but it was the wave of immediate responsibility that makes you feel part of the business. One of the truly unique aspects of working within BTM is how cross functional your work is. Project management is a huge part of your role as you deliver projects for all areas of the business whether it be the digital team developing websites, or traceability projects for supply chain and brands. You are given huge exposure to all areas of the business.

I thought I’d talk about one of my projects at this point, the one I have chosen is not the one I spend the most time on, but it is one that I feel completely sums up Unilever as a business and has allowed me to truly live the USLP. This was a key project in my first couple of weeks and was my first experience of responsibility. The project is working with foodbanks in the UK partnering with external strategic business partners to bring together a technology platform of relationship management tools to enable them to meet the growing demand. As well as providing them with business training, organising volunteering events and managing the process.

This is not the project I am working on that is developing business radical growth through revolutionary IT innovation like my other projects. This for me is the beauty of Unilever not only are you encouraged to think differently in order to innovate business growth but you are also provided with projects and time to drive positive social change. The sustainability team is now an increasing driver of business growth, the continued acceleration towards truly sustainable business is an exciting area to be part of. Unilever remains at the forefront of sustainable business practice amongst FMCG’s and being part of this area has allowed me to see where it is going.

The First 6 weeks have gone fast! Working on challenging projects has allowed me to gain valuable experience in the corporate environment and gain that all important commercial awareness. From just a few months ago as a Geography student, talking about the theories of sustainability and sustainable development; to having the opportunity to be involved in the application of these theories has been unbelievably exciting and rewarding in equal measure!

Now into my final few weeks the time is upon me to start the handover process of my projects and beginning the self-evaluation process for which special time with my manager is set aside. What I wanted from my placement at Unilever was to develop my skills as well as gaining an understanding of the corporate world and Unilever more specifically. I have had the privilege of working with VP’s across the business and this exposure to senior managers has been a steep learning curve but one I feel has driven a great deal of personal development. Being part of a team who is driving sustainable business development so quickly and positively has been a sense of real personal enjoyment and has justified everyday my decision to work at Unilever.

btm-2 Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Welcome IP Business & Technology Management!

Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial Placement Business & Technology Management students!  Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:


Name: Caroline Godson

University: University of Birmingham

Course: Business Management with Year in Industry

Function: BTM

Role title: Social Activation Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever provides so many opportunities to build networks and skills within a global business environment and the breadth of experience they offer in the space of 12 months is amazing. Their organisational culture and values were also greatly attractive to me and I really enjoy working within a team of motivated individuals in a flexible and agile way.

Top tips for future applicants?

Be proactive and apply early – the earlier you apply the earlier you could secure yourself a job and relax! During the application process ensure to stay up to date with Unilever’s current news, what projects they’re focusing on, and try to integrate this information into your answers – particularly on the telephone interview. Prepare in detail for interviews/assessment centre with competency based question examples, knowledge of Unilever and remember to be confident! The application process is mostly about the company finding out about the kind of person you are, so be yourself and be sure to listen to others – it’s important to take other people’s views into account and not try to lead the entire time.


Name: Ioanna Yiallourides

University: University of Bath

Course: Politics with Economics

Function: Business and Technology Management

Role Title: Digital Planner, Digital Marketing Services Europe

What attracted you to Unilever?

Its unique approach to doing business, its diversity of accounts and opportunities and its global scale.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Be yourself throughout the process and try to enjoy it.


Name: James Tinson

University: University of Reading

Course: Business and Management

Function: BTM

What attracted you to Unilever?

I had been looking at the reviews on Ratemyplacement.co.uk and similar sites and Unilever was highly rated by placement students, and the opportunity to work with some of the world’s biggest brands of course!

Any top tips for future applicants?

When it comes to the selection day, be yourself! It’s better to feel comfortable than to be on edge and over thinking your actions.

UnileverU Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Unilever UK & Ireland Locations

One of the questions we get asked most on our Facebook page is “Where will I be based?” and also “Can you guarantee my location?”. This post will hopefully answer all your location questions!

So, where might you be based? The UFLP is a geographically flexible scheme – meaning you move around for placements, making sure you get the best experience possible, working with lots of different teams and in different situations. Each function is slightly different, with different key sites where you’ll be working. You are supported by Unilever to move house each placement move 🙂

Industrial and Summer placements will have one location (usually) for the whole duration – and this will be confirmed when you are assigned a role. We don’t usually guarantee locations for anyone applying to the UFLP or Industrial and Summer Placement schemes.

Business & Technology Management (my function)

In BTM, you’re most likely to be working in:
– St. Davids Park (North Wales) – when working here grads tend to live in Chester or Liverpool. This site is closing and moving to Port Sunlight at the end of 2014, so you’re less likely to work here as more people move over to…
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – again, working here people tend to live in Chester or Liverpool.
– Kingston (London) – our newly refurbished services centre, Kingston office is based right in Kingston town centre – trainees tend to live in Clapham or Wimbledon (or anywhere else in London) to work here.
– Those are the 3 most likely sites, but you can also do stints at Blackfriars (100VE), Leatherhead and Colworth. You do an out of function placement, and for that you will be based at a site for the relevant function.

Customer Management (Sales) and Marketing 

Customer Management & Marketing are mostly London-based placements. It’s quite rare that you’d be based at other offices right now. You’re most likely to be in:
– Leatherhead (Surrey) – Our UK Headquarters, where we have an awesome Ben & Jerry’s Bar. Most grads tend to live in Clapham or Wimbledon and commute out.
– Blackfriars (London) – 1 of our 2 Global Headquarters (the other one is in Rotterdam, NL) . Again, most people live in Clapham or Wimbledon, mostly so they don’t have to move house when moving between the two!
You could also be based at our Tigi or Ben & Jerrys HQs, which are also in London.

In Customer Management (Sales), there is also an opportunity to be based in Dublin (Our Irish HQ) for your 2nd Placement.


Research & Development are mostly based at our Research & Development sites. You’re also likely to do an out-of-function placement in Supply Chain, CD or Marketing, which will most likely be based in Leatherhead or Blackfriars.
– Leeds – We have an R&D site for Deos up in Leeds – most grads tend to live in Leeds itself.
– Colworth (Bedford) – Our Colworth site is where a lot of ice cream and tea is developed – most grads tend to live in Bedford
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – Our Liverpool site is where a lot of personal care and home care research goes on. Most grads tend to live in Liverpool or Chester.

Supply Chain

In Supply Chain, you tend to do 4 placements – a planning role and a customer service role – usually both based at Leatherhead (or maybe Leeds), and then a project role and a factory shift management role – these roles could be based across the UK – the factories where you’re most likely to be based are:

– Norwich – The home of Colman’s mustard!
– Gloucester – Where you can taste the most delicious ice cream straight off the production line!
– Seacroft (Leeds) – Where the infamous Lynx is made, along with all of our other aerosols.
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – Our Laundry Factories are all based on at Port Sunlight – most grads tend to live in Liverpool or Chester.
You could also be based at Crumlin, Purfleet, Slough, Doncaster, Burton, Trafford Park or Warrington.

Finance & HR

Financial Management and Human Resources Management trainees could be based pretty much at any of our sites! You tend to support different teams to get a breadth of experience. You will usually do at least one placement at Leatherhead or Blackfriars in both Finance and HR, and then you might go to any of our offices (the R&D sites, plus Kingston, Dublin and the TIGI & Ben & Jerrys HQs in London),  or any of our factories (see the supply chain list).

This list hopefully helps you to understand a bit more about where you’re likely to be based when working in the UK & Ireland – it’s not exhaustative unfortunately  but the majority of sites are mentioned above! Many of our schemes offer international placements when you could be based anywhere from Durban to Singapore to Sao Paulo. As a grad, you get used to going where you’re told as you know a really exciting placement is waiting for you there – and usually there will be at least a few other grads placed in the same location.

Let us know if you have any other questions – the best place to ask is on Facebook or Twitter!

images Business & Technology Management (BTM)

My Year at Unilever: Mars Lee, BTM IP

What made you choose Unilever?

Ben and Jerry’s, Colman’s, Persil…. I knew that it was going to be challenging but exciting working for these brands.

Has it been how you expected it to be?

It’s exceeded my expectations. I thought I would be just working in an office, but when I arrived I was given real tasks and took on ‘real’ work… there was even a period where one of my team mates was leaving and I helped cover their role… which I really enjoyed.

How has the Programme changed you?

Business and Technology Management is simply a title and there was a lot more to it than I thought there was. They said you don’t need to be technical, and I’m not! I am much more excited about creating processes that drive efficiency. I’ve been working in the Global Project Portfolio Office – and there were technical people sitting side by side to help! In this case the challenge is making technology practical for business purposes, how to store information and make it useful. For me, this sphere has opened lots of opportunities.

What have you enjoyed most?

Being part of a Global team. Working globally means speaking to lots of people all over the world, and my team had 6 colleagues, of which 2 were in Brazil and one was in the US. To begin with, pretending that they sit next to you is not easy, but I enjoyed working with them and developed a really good relationship.

How has it stretched you?

How you plan your time, complete your project and report to your manager. I always thought that I needed my manager to be face to face at least once a week, but I can now work independently and manage my own time to deliver my work.

Has anything surprised you about it?

The amount of trust the team had for me. I never thought the responsibility I was given would be so vast and at the end I knew the processes well enough to answer and explain stoppages or make suggestions to improve.

What were the people like?

Really friendly. We went for a team lunch everyday, had evening events and we worked hard but were generally relaxed in the way we worked.

What have you learned?

Lots about myself! At the end of the year, I had the most insightful review, as my line manager seemed to know almost as much about me as I did! I’ve learnt to work independently, to be comfortable being given a task and knowing I could complete it to a deadline.

Do you have any anecdotes in particular that illustrates how valuable the Programme has been for you personally?

I worked on an issue with a colleague based in Connecticut, USA. After two weeks of using teleconferencing, sharing screens and lots of emails we solved the problem together. In all this time, I never met her, but we worked together to solve a complex problem. To me, working virtually like this was a revelation.

How international has your experience been?

Global is a common word used in my department. Dialling in conferences occurred daily and speaking to colleagues in another country is common. I learnt to take into account the other cultures and adapt styles to certain colleagues.

Are you learning about the world of business fast?

Vast learning, not just the actual processes of projects, but performing in different regions, industry trends, new and different practices… it becomes part of your daily dose of knowledge.

willem Business & Technology Management (BTM)

60 Second Interview: Willem Eelman, Chief Information Officer


Name: Willem Eelman
Job Title: Chief Information Officer
Nationality: Dutch

Why did you choose to work in your function?

Actually I didn’t but the business chose me! I have been in various finance roles for some 20 years in Unilever ranging from controlling to Mergers and acquisitions cumulating in a role as regional CFO (Chief Financial Officer) in Europe. Having said this, at University I had significant exposure to IT (at the time this was learning coding !) and my first role when I started in Unilever was to implement a financial accounting package (Coda) and did a purchase automation and support IT project. In my role as CFO in Europe I played an extensive role in a major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation so would say that I had my relevant experience when I was asked to take on the role of CIO (Chief Information Officer) in 2010.

Why do you work for Unilever? Why would you recommend starting a career in Unilever?

I started Unilever in 1989 but actually got involved with the company already in 1987 through a number of student activities. My interest had always been in the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Industry but wanted also an international experience. As I got to know the company and met many people working in it, I felt that the company had the right set of values whilst fully offering me the opportunity for a challenging, interesting international career.

I have never been disappointed to date and the values that attracted me at the time still very much sit at the heart if the business.

What’s your responsibility? How big is your team?

I run Unilever’s IT innovation resource and are responsible for a innovation development budget of some 300m. I obviously don’t do this on my own and work with a team of some 1,000 people with a Unilever badge augmented with staff from suppliers and contractors.

What has been your biggest challenge in Unilever so far?

The acquisition of Bestfood was the biggest project that I was involved in. From inception of the idea to the deal execution to the actual integration was an exciting time.

What has been your favourite Unilever product innovation in the past 2 years?

I love the Knorr jelly stock pot. I am a passionate about home cooking, this product offers great taste and augments my cooking skills to make great soups. You need to know that particularly in the winter I tend to make a large pan of soup on Saturday that will see us through the weekend as we run from one commitment to the next, many sport related to one of our 4 children.

What does success look like for you in the future at Unilever?

Success will be when Unilever will be recognized as a high performing company that manages to do well and good at the same time. For me, the ambition to double our size whilst holding our environmental footprint the same is a highly motivating one.

Where is your next holiday taking you?

Our summer holidays, we will be in the States where we will be doing a two week tour in at the west coast visiting few National parks in California, Utah and Arizona. This is a trip I once did as an eighteen year old and I now want to show this to my family.

How many Unilever offices have you been to? Which one is your favourite?

Too many to count. My favourite one is in South Africa in Durban where Unilever has an office sitting at a hill range overlooking Durban and the Indian ocean. On a good day, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a whale at sea!

Which product do you use the most?

Again, very much very much driven by the fact that we have four children of whom three play rugby at school and in a club. So Persil washing powder and softener are probably the single biggest category and Unilever product we use !

If you were a Unilever product, which one would it be & why?

I would be a a Magnum Classic. Full of energy, a hard outer but soft and smooth inner core. Why the classic ? Because I am already a bit older and the Magnum Classic was actually launched in the year in which I joined Unilever!