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!

Read more “My first few weeks as a Customer Development UFLP: Emilia Baker”

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.



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!

Gus-Kennedy Customer Management (Sales)

A not-so-typical day in the life: Gus Kennedy, Customer…

Hi! I’m Gus and I am spending the year working in Customer Management on the Industrial Placement Scheme. Customer Management or ‘CD’ as we call it internally (Customer Development) is essentially a function that focuses on working with our customers to achieve an outcome that achieves great results for us, our customers and most importantly our consumers (insider tip- this is known at Unilever as a “triple win”). I work in the Impulse/Out of Home Ice Cream business and it’s my role to lead the 2015 Visibility agenda. This basically means I am overseeing the procurement and design of all of our point-of-sale marketing materials, and ensuring they get to market quickly, efficiently and effectively to help our customers sell more ice cream. The role is massively cross-functional, and I often find myself spending more time with our marketing team than our sales team! Visibility is a massive part of the OOH Ice Cream business’ operation and to be given such a massive amount of responsibility from day one is an awesome opportunity that keeps me incredibly motivated and is testament to why the Unilever Industrial Placement is so well thought of.

As cliché as it sounds, there really isn’t a “typical day in the life of” for anyone working for Unilever. As the market and the needs/wants of our customers change we have to flex and adapt. This is true of almost every role I can think of. On almost a daily basis everything your role can change and the goalposts can move as all aspects of FMCG come with a massive degree of unpredictability and variance- this is what makes it so much fun. In my role for example, I could spend the morning in a London design studio and the afternoon in a wholesale depot. Each day all my skills are tested, and whether I’m creatively challenging our art agency to make a Magnum pavement sign look as “on brand” as possible or analytically planning the optimal route to market for 7500 Flying Banners… I am certainly never bored!

My top tip for applying to Unilever would be to really spend some time thinking about the strengths you want to communicate and whether or not these demonstrate the Unilever Standards of Leadership. When applying, you’ll have a whole bank of life experience you can draw on to show what a great candidate you are however it is the candidates who are selective about what they choose to draw on during selection who are successful. “Cherry-picking” different strengths (and evidences of strengths!) that demonstrate the Standards of Leadership is what the talent selection team are looking for. As I mentioned, from day one I was amazed (and a little scared) by what a huge chunk of our operation I was responsible for. Very quickly it becomes clear exactly how necessary the ability to lead is… There’s no one you can offload work to or expect to get ideas from- it’s all you from start to finish!

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!

Tads-RD Customer Management (Sales)

H + O2 = H2O



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)

Household Cleaning at the Co-op

I’m Laura, and I’m a first year graduate on the Customer Management (Sales) programme.  My first placement in Unilever is on the Co-op account, where I work on Household Cleaning (Cif and Domestos) and our Dressings brands (Hellmann’s, Knorr, Maille and Colman’s).

Customer Management is a fantastic way to understand how the business operates as a whole.  In my first placement, I have worked closely with Supply Chain to forecast the volumes we will sell, and to ensure our products are available when our customers want them.  I also work closely with Finance and Marketing.

Having done my undergraduate degree in Modern Languages, deciding to apply for Sales was something completely new for me and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  However, I quickly learned that there are two sides to Customer Management.  Firstly, we work to achieve profitable volume growth for our products.  This includes deciding the best way to promote our products in store, following how well our products are selling and managing how our budget is spent.  Although I had no previous experience of finance, Unilever gave me all the training I needed, and one of the most satisfying parts of my job is to be able to work with the figures that help the company grow.

Secondly, Customer Management involves working closely with our customers, and puts graduates on the forefront of what happens in store.  Since beginning my placement, I have worked on a business plan which outlines how we want to act in store in 2013, particularly focusing on the promotions we aim to run, and I’m really looking forward to negotiating this plan with the retailer in the coming months.  I have also had the opportunity to review our current offering to decide on the best product ranges for different shoppers.  One of the best parts of the job is going into stores and seeing deals and promotions that you have worked on and negotiated.  My experience in the company so far has taught me that working for Unilever is less about the hard-sell approach, and more about building relationships with our customers to understand how we can drive in-store sales.

Working for Unilever means you’ll be given placements with real responsibility, dealing with well-known brands that UK shoppers buy every day.  Given the size of the business, there is the opportunity to take your career in any direction.  Graduates spend a lot of time with their manager to discuss personal strengths and areas for improvement, and consider how our next placements will help our development.  I’m really looking forward to finding out about where I’ll move to in the business, and getting a completely different view on how sales works in the company!


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.