walls ice cream on the beach Unilever Future Leaders Programme

How a love of Cornetto led one UFLP to…

Today we talk to Elena Battini, an Italian native who embarked on the UFLP almost two years, starting in Rome.

Like many people, Elena did not know Unilever was the company behind one of her favourite brands – Cornetto. She came to learn about the organization during her Bocconi University days in Milan while studying for a business degree in International Management.

She decided to apply for the UFLP and was successful in securing a place on the Go-To-Market UFLP (marketing and sales).

The 26-year-old from Parma has worked in Customer Development since joining the company and has taken part in two international rotations so far.

Read more “How a love of Cornetto led one UFLP to Unilever”

Emilia profile2 Customer Management (Sales)

My first few weeks as a Customer Development UFLP:…

Hi Everyone,

My name is Emilia and I have just joined the UFLP in Customer Development, or Customer Management (Sales) as it’s called in the initial stages of application. I’m currently based in Leatherhead, as a Customer Account Manager on Impulse and Out of Home Ice Cream. Like Alex did, I’m going to give you a bit of an insight into what I’ve been up to in my first few weeks and provide a glimpse into what life is like on the UFLP!

I joined the UFLP following a placement year in 2013/14 between my second and final years at Sheffield Hallam University, where I studied Business and Enterprise Management. On placement I was part of the eCommerce team working with ‘Pureplay’ customers (online only retailers), which was completely different to the current role I’m in!

In the build up to your first/induction week at Unilever, Unilever have a real hands on approach. Whether that’s through providing you with a functional buddy to provide an informal way to answer any of your questions, to relocation support, to organising events/times to meet others beginning the UFLP. By the time I reached induction week I had already met quite a few of the other people joining the UFLP which was great for dispelling any initial nerves.

This year the induction week kicked off in Liverpool, where amongst other activities we were given a tour of the Port Sunlight Factory, which was amazing. This year’s intake all had a photo on the steps of Port Sunlight. It was surprisingly difficult to get a group of adults to pose for a photo, all looking the same way and with our eyes open!

UFLPs 2015

The evenings of the induction week were filled with activities to help us all to get to know each other, from a murder mystery to a night of bowling and karaoke. It was great to not only meet those who were beginning the UFLP alongside me, but also to meet those further on in their UFLP path and talk to them about their experiences so far.

For CD and Marketing, our first few weeks are structured slightly differently to all the other functions, in particular because we complete a field sales placement prior to beginning in role. Field Sales involves many aspects, from checking stock, to negotiating activations with store managers and everything else in-between. Field Sales is a great introduction into Unilever as it provides real exposure to our brands, consumers and customers. I gained invaluable insight into the operational side of our products in store and it’s proved a great platform to build upon.

Whilst on Field Sales, I had the chance to meet my team prior to fully beginning in role, at a team away day in Newquay. Amongst team meetings, we also explored Newquay, looking at what Out of Home Ice Cream looks like in a seaside town. Newquay is also home to a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlour, where we stopped for a photo and an ice cream, or two! It was a great way to begin the transition into my new role, as I was able to meet the team on an informal basis, learn more about what is happening within ice cream at Unilever and also, at a more operational level, get out and about and have a look at what is currently going on in the wider world of ice cream.

Emilia B+J's

Flash forward to my first couple of weeks in role, my first day involved introductions and inductions with the wider team. Everyone was very welcoming and happy to answer all my questions, no matter how stupid I thought the question might seem (Tip: whilst you’re still getting to grips with your role at Unilever, there is no such thing as a stupid question!). I was also introduced to one of the many benefits of working within ice cream from day one… free ice cream! Although everyone here at Leatherhead can have free Ben & Jerry’s every day, the Ice Cream Team also house a freezer full of even more products, which we can help ourselves to, it’s making for a great mid-afternoon treat.

During the first few weeks, amongst getting to grips with my role and responsibilities, I have also had the opportunity to take part in a lot of training, from sessions covering broader companywide initiatives, to specific training for my role. Alongside this, as part of the UFLP, there is a specialised training and learning roadmap for each function. This roadmap builds upon the Unilever training and sets out the further opportunities for training and development all UFLPs have. It’s a really great programme that not only focuses on core development, but also aims to help all UFLPs develop skills that will prove invaluable in the future.

It has been a great few weeks and I’m looking forward to the next few months and beyond!

 

Arjun Business areas

My Summer at Unilever: Arjun Mistry, Customer Development SP

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello there my name is Arjun Mistry, I’m currently on the 12 week summer placement in the Customer Development function based in Unilever’s head office in Leatherhead. My full job title is ‘Customer Executive for Out Of Home Ice Cream on The Co-Operative account’ – a bit of a mouthful I know! Basically my main responsibilities are coordinating ice cream sales and promotions across every single Co-Operative store in the UK. This includes liaising with buyers, supply chain specialists and the marketing team and making sure everyone knows what they are doing – communication is key!

What have you enjoyed most?

Working in the fun, dynamic, creative ice cream category during the roasting summer months has been a real treat. One personal highlight have been attending the ice cream brand cascade at London Zoo where we got to see and taste all the unreleased products set to come out in the summer of 2016 – it was great to see new innovations in my category before anyone else. Another highlight was regularly visiting Manchester to conduct meetings with the Co-operative’s ice cream buyer – being able to negotiate and speak in a personable yet persuasive way is one of my strengths so it was great to be able to put this to good use in my time at Unilever. I also had a chance to visit the Walls Pop Up store (see the photo). The key factor that has made this entire experience enjoyable has been the people I work with: the welcoming and friendly company culture that Unilever breeds has made me feel right at home.

What has been the most challenging?

The biggest challenge I encountered was the degree of independence and responsibility that you are trusted with from day one. For example, I was trusted with conveying all the data between our field sales team who work across the UK to the Co-Operative head office in my first week. Although this may sound daunting, the degree of responsibility you are given is beneficial in helping you feel like a valued member of the team and also in your own personal development. You learn a lot through actual project work, including a whole range of transferable business skills.

What advice would you give to someone about to start their placement?

I would say don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to as many people as possible. Everyone in the company has their own specialist knowledge and if you can learn to tap into it, it will undoubtedly benefit you. Also I would recommend that you be as proactive as possible – if you see a project that you believe you could contribute to then get involved! Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Arjun

A photo of a pal at the Walls Ice cream store

 

Laura 1 Business areas

Introducing Category Management: Laura Jenkinson, Customer Development SP

Hello, my name is Laura and I am currently on my summer placement as a Category Executive for the hair team. When I applied to the Customer Development summer placement I had no idea what category management was – or that the role even existed! However, 7 weeks into my placement I have already given an induction on the category to a key retailer and made recommendations on how they can improve their performance.

Laura 2

Working in category management my team are in charge of overseeing the whole hair category, looking at how the market is performing and working with individual retailers to help them grow the category and meet customer needs. The category team support both the brand teams with how their products fit and are performing within the category and customer teams in order to build relations with retailers.

It is key to our role to ensure we look at the whole category as well as Unilever brands. For Unilever the hair category includes TRESemme, Dove, Vo5, Alberto Balsam and Toni & Guy. Part of my role has involved having inductions with all of the brand teams who look after these in order to understand their products and how they sit within retailers. Hair is a particularly exciting category to be involved in as there are always new products coming to market! One task I recently completed was looking at new products for 2015 across the whole category to see who has performed well and what has been a success. The information I provided on this was then fed back to the Unilever Leadership team.

In my category role I have had the opportunity to work on projects both internally and externally. For instance, internally, I completed a piece of work analysing product exclusives to see if this is something that the brand teams should consider pursuing. Externally, I created a styling update for a retailer so they could track the progress of brands this year. As placement students we are given real responsibility – I know the tasks I carry out are having an impact on important decisions!

I have had the opportunity to learn so much whilst I have been on my summer placement and I am sure that this learning will continue in my final weeks! Even though I knew very little (almost nothing) about category management before I started, I have received proficient training and guidance so that I now feel integrated into and a key member of the team.

 

 

Eva Business areas

My UIIP Experience: Eva Karkoni, Marketing SP

Hi everyone,

My name is Eva and I joined Unilever almost 6 months ago as a Skin Cleansing Shopper Marketing intern.

Let me begin with some things about myself. I studied Marketing and Advertising in Athens and I am currently doing my Master’s in Marketing at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam which-fingers crossed- I am about to finish soon. I must admit that trying to combine work with a demanding study schedule was not an easy thing and if I ever make it I will throw a great party in the Weena Office (Just kidding here)!  However, Unilever provides a quite flexible environment, especially for students, and thus, I did not miss any of my classes I had to attend.

So, despite my Marketing background, I decided to do an internship in Customer Marketing, a field closer to Customer Development than Marketing. I did so, because I think it is preferable to wander around different positions and fields before deciding what you are mostly interested in. Honestly, if you think about it, internships are a good opportunity to explore your skills, talents and interests as well as gain experience and insights from different teams and departments.

The most interesting thing of my work is that being part of the CD department, means that you work for more than just one brand. Therefore, as a Skin Cleansing intern I work for Dove, Radox, Lux and Zwitzal (i.e. the baby care brand) which is much more interesting that you can imagine. You have to handle plenty of projects on a daily basis, brief agencies, collaborate with the Brand Development teams and other teams as well.

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To be more specific, Customer Marketing is Marketing at the Point-of-Sale, i.e. creating the appropriate displays, key visuals, call-to-actions and make them match with the brand’s personality in order to raise awareness and drive purchase intent. As part of my daily activities, I am in constant contact with our agencies responsible for developing the assets and the visuals. It is a role involving a lot of people and responsibilities due to the variety of brands and tasks. Along with some big projects, we also have to handle other minor ones that pop up during the day. This is great as it adds a splash of variety in life!

Of course, there are days that nothing goes well. I must admit that I encountered many difficulties especially in the beginning – the transition from careless student life to being a full time employee is not the easiest thing in life!

Something else that also fascinates me is the international environment we live in. It is fantastic to interact with people from all over the world on a daily basis and be acquainted with different personalities and cultures. If you think about it, there are 500 people in the building with different backgrounds and habits. On one day, you may find yourself talking about the Brazilian carnival and on the other day discussing the Arab Spring!

Furthermore, UL has some of the most famous and successful brands in the FMCG industry. It is thrilling to work for Dove, Ben and Jerry’s or Magnum and know that you are a part of their success and that you have contributed to their beautiful story.

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Therefore, now that this 6-month experience ends, I must admit that working for Unilever has been a very exciting and interesting period of my life and it gave me the opportunity to gain work experience as well as invest in my self-development in both professional and personal terms. I became more proactive and decisive as well as learnt how to operate efficiently under tight deadlines and a high level of pressure.

Overall, being part of the amazing team of UL is an experience I will always remember. I am happy for these 6 months and it was definitely worth it.

That is all from me for now!

Stay tuned from more stories of the wonderful world of Weena!

Eva

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Arjun Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in Customer Development: Arjun Mistry,…

Hello all,

My name is Arjun Mistry, and I am six weeks in to my summer placement at the Unilever head office in Leatherhead. I belong in the customer management function – which is where the execution of products lives or dies. Specifically the responsibilities of my role are looking  after all the Ice Cream that goes to The Co-Operative supermarkets.

The Co-operative logo RGB[1]

As an avid ice cream eater myself, being able to work with well recognised and popular brands such as Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, Vienetta and  Cornetto has been an engaging and interesting experience. Before I started my role, I had no idea about the amount of careful planning and negotiating that goes into all the products you see on supermarket shelves! From the way that products are set out, to the type of promotion, to all the co-ordinated marketing, it was great to learn more about how multi-faceted the FMCG industry is.

Before I had even begun my role, I was contacted by a current graduate at Unilever who put me at ease with all the various questions I had about the company. It was comforting to know that I had someone to talk to about the intricacies and also the simpler queries I had about the role. Then it was on to our induction at a sumptuous hotel in Dorking: all the industrial placements and summer placement students had a chance to meet, socialise outside the office and really get to know each other. This meant that on my first day within the office I already knew a bunch of people which was useful.

When I met my team I was made to feel welcome and we had a nice lunch on the first day. What struck me was how friendly and sociable everyone is – ask anyone for help and they will give it to you. My line manager had a laptop and mobile phone waiting for me and I was able to crack on with getting settled in straight away. Straight away my calendar filled up with meetings and I became immersed in the day to day business activities that gave me hands on experience.

In terms of responsibility, Unilever is like no other employer. I was given a set of projects that I could work through in any way I liked, and by week 4 I was presenting the findings of my project work to the buyer at the Co-Operative headquarters in Manchester! By being given this level of responsibility, it really made me take pride in my work and also meant that I could demonstrate my own effectiveness to my manager. It was great to not be micro managed or having someone constantly breathing down my neck, yet being able to talk openly and honestly with anyone in my team, if necessary.

So I am now just beyond the halfway point of my placement and I can honestly say there has not been a dull moment. I have fully acclimatised to the getting up and doing a working day (something I was nervous about before starting!) and feel very well settled in to my team. In fact, I am dreading the thought of having to leave come September! Some highlights for me have been the regular meetings with the Ice Cream buyer in Manchester; attending brand cascades and trying new flavours of ice cream before they have been released and helping co-ordinate the winter range. Again, I am amazed by how the scope of my own involvement will make a tangible difference to all the Co-Opertaive stores throughout the UK.

Every day is a new challenge, and I hope to learn more and more in my time here. Bring in the next 6 weeks!

cd-2 Customer Management (Sales)

Welcome IPSP Customer Management (Sales)!

Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial and Summer Placement Customer Management (Sales) students!  Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:

Anna-Reid

Name: Anna Reid

University: University of Exeter

Course: BA Business Economics

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Commercial Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Working at Unilever gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in working with a diverse range of brands that I know, use and love.  My attraction to Unilever also stemmed from the desire to work in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry – every day is different and you are continuously adapting to new situations. This is especially true in Customer Management. Through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and their sponsorship of non-profit sustainable organisations such as Enactus, Unilever demonstrates its commitment to sustainable business growth – to me, these company values make Unilever an attractive place to work. As placement students you are given a real role in the team and real responsibility, thus the opportunities to learn and develop are vast.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Firstly make sure you are aware of Unilever’s Standards of Leadership and that you can demonstrate these throughout the application process and during the placement.  Secondly, the more research you do the better!  Make sure you know Unilever’s position in the market and their main competitors. Additionally, make sure you understand the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry and the opportunities /threats the market and environment present to Unilever.  Thirdly make sure you have as much relevant experience as possible, either at University or work that reflect your ability to work effectively in teams.

Calum-Owen

Name: Calum Owen

University: Manchester

Course: Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Summer Placement Discounters

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever plays a large part in the everyday lives of so many people. It is very much a global company, shown through the diversity throughout the organisation. Unilever continues to invest in graduates and future talent and has a strong ethical rooting which is shown by its commitments to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. You get the chance to be the part of a company which aims to enhance livelihoods whilst growing in a difficult and competitive market.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Find things out about the company, you don’t have to be an expert but a bit of knowledge about the history, current performance, products and the competition can give you a head start. If you ever have any questions make sure you ask them, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s stupid, you’re guaranteed not to be the only person wondering about it and it’s always better to know than to guess. Throughout whatever you do with Unilever or any other company, try and relax and be yourself, it definitely can be easier said than done but stress can cause mistakes to happen and for you to not perform at your best. Finally work hard and chase what you want to achieve, motivation is an important trait and the opportunities are always available providing you push for them.

Eleanor-Boyer

Name: Eleanor Boyer

University: Bristol

Course: English

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: eCommerce Innovation Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Company culture, recommendations, prestigious company and working with exciting brands

Any top tips for future applicants?

Relax. Even if you’re nervous it pays to be friendly to everyone and be someone they would want to work with.

Emma-Houslander

Name: Emma Houslander

University: Bournemouth University

Course: Business Studies

Function: Customer Management Industrial Placement

Role Title: Customer Account Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever is one of the largest Fast Moving Consumr Goods companies and has a wide range of career opportunities starting with spring/summer/industrial placements and the UFLP (Graduate) scheme. I wanted to gain real life experience in a successful global company to put theory I’d learnt at uni into context. I particularly like the open plan, friendly atmosphere in the office and the importance placed on having a positive work life balance.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Carefully study the Standards of Leadership and think of your own relevant examples of each. Be open to learning new things, fast, and ask as many questions as you can.

Gemma-Weighill

Name: Gemma Weighill

University: University College London

Course: Chemistry with Management

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Discounters team – project manager for customer marketing activities at Lidl, analysing, reviewing and monitoring promotion plans, researching opportunities with Aldi

What attracted you to Unilever?

The friendly, hardworking yet supportive atmosphere. I feel that Unilever give you a lot of responsibility so that you are pushed and feel like you are making a difference, yet there is also plenty of support if you need it. It is also great that when you walk into the shops and see the Unilever brands you know that you were a part of a team to get that end result.

Any top tips for future applicants?

If offered a chance to work here, make the most of every opportunity and find out about other functions that you’re not focused on to get a good overview of Unilever.

Gus-Kennedy

Name: Gus Kennedy

University: Loughborough University

Course: Politics and Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Customer Executive- Impulse and Out of Home Ice Cream

What attracted you to Unilever?

I loved the idea of working alongside so many iconic and exciting brands for a company that is able to remain so massively competitive and win in the market place whilst still retaining its great ethos and core values

Any top tips for future applicants?

Just know your strengths as much as possible and use the application process as an opportunity to communicate these as clearly as possible to whoever is assessing you!

Jack-Warner

Name: Jack Warner

University: Lancaster University

Course: BBA Management

Function: Customer Management/ Sales

Role Title: Commercial Executive, Boots

What attracted you to Unilever?

The chance to sell hugely successful products, the diversity of people, size of firm, the huge pledge to the Sustainable Living Plan and the free Ben and Jerry’s.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Research the position properly – when being interviewed by either telephone or person, have examples that back up skills and traits needed within the job role. Further, knowing the products and positions Unilever hold in the marketplace won’t do you any harm. Try to consult careers advisers before sending the applications in as you only get one shot!

Mark-Hayes

Name: Mark Hayes

University: University of Bath

Course: International Management & French

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Impulse & Out of Home Customer Development Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Compared to the other Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies out there, Unilever really stood out from the pack for me due to its innovative marketing campaigns that have helped build some of the country’s most popular brands. Sustainability also goes to the very heart of the business which I believe will be seen as an increasingly important model for companies in the future.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you come armed with questions on why the business is moving in certain directions based on in depth research into the company and the industry as a whole. This will show you are a curious and analytical which are key skills that will help you in whatever function you choose.

Megan-McCluskey

Name: Megan McCluskey

University: University of Cambridge

Course: Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Summer Intern

What attracted you to Unilever?

I really liked the way that Unilever seemed to pioneer change in the business world. An example of this is their commitment to sustainability which has resulted in innovations such as compressed deodorants.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you fully understand the function and tailor your application accordingly.

Rosie-Churchill

Name: Rosie Churchill

University: University of Reading

Course: Business & Management

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: eCommerce Customer Account Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

One of the best Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies with a prestigious placement scheme. Also the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan played a big part in separating Unilever from its competitors for me.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Relate everything to the Standards of Leadership

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.

R&D

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!

Tads-RD Customer Management (Sales)

H + O2 = H2O

 

Tads-RD

Firstly I would like to apologise profusely to any R&D candidates who assumed this was a blog by an R&D graduate based entirely on my choice of photograph. My name is Tad and I’m first year graduate in Customer Management (sales), however I do want to point out I studied engineering at university and once did an internship in R&D. A few of you may now be finding this blog rather nonplussing, but I just wanted to highlight the variety of Unilever’s graduates across the seven different business areas. In a nutshell, I believe Unilever hire for attitude and train for skill because it is exceedingly difficult to change someone’s attitude – that, I will tell you for free! Although leaving engineering and joining Customer Management raised a few eyebrows with my closest friends and family, by and large my comrades were concerned that joining the sales department at Unilever meant I would become a wheeler-dealer, constantly pushing & pulling whilst ducking & diving, trying to flog some consumer goods. Unsurprisingly, they were incorrect and my experience of Customer Management thus far has been sensational.

I’m currently working in the Convenience sector across Costcutter, Budgens, Nisa, Londis and Spar in Homecare category (laundry and household cleaning products). As a result of this wide range of customers, my role is extremely varied and, of course, challenging. During this placement, I’m hoping to fulfill my ambition of becoming a customer champion and delivering on my projects. Working on laundry and household cleaning has been refreshing as my knowledge of cleaning products was non-existent. I remember trudging into a Sainsbury’s store with my manager and walking along the laundry and household cleaning aisle with my notebook making notes on the differences between fabric cleaners and conditioners (surprisingly interesting I must add) .

Coupled with my day-to-day job, I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the campus recruitment activities which every graduate on the programme gets to be involved with. I have had numerous opportunities to go back to my old university (Loughborough) and give students advice, sharing my experiences to help them with their applications.

Overall my experience at Unilever has thus far been idyllic and the camaraderie with the other graduates on the scheme (including some great weekends in and around the Clapham area) haven’t been too shabby either!

Customer Management (Sales)

My First 5 Weeks at Unilever

Hey! I’m Catrin and I recently joined Unilever working in Customer Management (Sales). So why Unilever? And why Customer Management? Read on to find out why I’m working here and what I’m working on…

So what made Unilever stand out for me? I think the fact that the Unilever graduate programme is held in high regard and the vast portfolio of the products (including my favourite Ben & Jerrys!) are the main reasons why I chose Unilever. An important factor for me was also where the ethics of the company in environment issues lie, meaning learning about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which aims to reach 2 billion people, making a big impact through small everyday actions gave me reassurance.

I decided to apply to Customer Management (Sales), because my background is in sales and marketing, so for me it was an obvious choice. It combines both working with lots of people to create and maintain relationships, as well as getting down to the nitty gritty to maximise sales. Every day in customer management is not the same, it deals with every other busienss area in Unilever to break or make deals with customers.

So what have I been up to so far? I’m currently completing a 6 week field sales placement which every Marketing and Customer Management graduate does. Day-to-day we visit stores to look at anything from checking stock and promotions to helping smaller retailers with the layout of their store. The placement has given me instant exposure to retailers that sell our products every day. The insight I have gained has been invaluable and will now provide a strong foundation as I move to the Leatherhead office.

 I am very excited for my next placement when I’ll be working on creating new routes to market across all categories. The first meeting I’m attending is a top to top which is a meeting with all of the high level people in both Unilever and one of our customers, so straight away I am being thrown in at the deep end.

Being given as many opportunities as challenges means I’m always going to be developing and at Unilever it really feels like I can take my career in any direction, but one of my main priorities is to get as much experience as possible. I also love to travel, so exploring Unilever’s international business will be something I will be working towards. Wish me luck! The main advice I’d give applicants, as cheesy as it sounds, is to just be yourself.

You being a perfect fit for Unilever is as important as Unilever being a perfect fit for you. Even though the selection day is tough, I also had a really fun day and it made me realise that Unilever was a place I truly wanted to work. Unilever places high regard on our 5 core competencies(which you’ll find on our website) with everybody in the business, so having strong examples of each one is really important.