Each year Unilever takes on group of placement students across our various functions and gives them the opportunities to work on some great brands or with our customers on particular accounts. Currently we run several placement schemes, so whether this is for a couple of days on our Spring program, or a longer term summer/industrial placement. Or if you are even thinking for a longer term career on our UFLP scheme, we can find something to suit you and your passions!
As we are now well into the 12 days of Christmas, we thought it was only right to share our 12 pieces of advice from some of our current Industrial Placement students and Unilever’s Future Leaders:
Hi, I am Dorena and I am a Customer Development Trainee at Unilever. I joined the Unilever Future Leaders Programme in September 2016.
What I like most about the Customer Development UFLP is that you get the chance to dive into different areas of the business – including interfaces such as Trade Management or support functions like Category Management. You also have the opportunity to learn more about Brand Building. The majority of the time, however, you will spend in the Key Account Management. This is a key role in our business, making sure that our products are available to our consumers and being the direct and first contact to our trade partners.
My first rotation of the UFLP was in the German e-Commerce department. The role gave me the great opportunity to Read more “Learn skills necessary for your future!”
Sophie Crompton – UFLP Supply Chain
What inspired you to apply?
I was first introduced to Unilever when my flatmate convinced me to go to a talk at University, like many people I think I knew the brands way before I knew about Unilever.
The presentation was really interesting. The thing that stayed with me most after the presentation and during the recruitment process was that Unilever has brands with a purpose.
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.
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!
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.
A photo of a pal at the Walls Ice cream store
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!