abbie Business areas

Function insight into Marketing and Finance!

Megan Chadwick – UFLP Marketing

A little bit about me…

I am from a large, working class family in Gloucester (1 of 7 children). I studied Business & Marketing at Oxford Brookes because this offered an IP year. Even though I achieved 1st grade at university I feared I would not get a place on the UFLP because I did not go to a red brick university.

I have always wanted to work in the FMCG industry and spent my Industrial Placement year at GSK.

What inspired you to apply?

I was inspired by the brands and the gigantic selection. Unilever offers the opportunity to work in a global company, but with the ability to move around.

Read more “Function insight into Marketing and Finance!”

Maria and Paul Polman2 Business areas

6 months down the line: Maria Snowden, Finance IP

Hi, I’m Maria. I study economics at the University of Bath and am currently an IP on the Finance scheme.

My last blog post was about my experiences in Brand Development for Homecare, which involved business partnering a marketing team and working on everything from
business cases to brand strategies. Over the past few weeks I’ve transitioned from that role to working as part of a project team with external consultants to streamline our cost recovery process. It’s been a strange feeling joining a new team and feeling totally clueless all over again! I’m still based in our Global HQ in Central London, which is a really buzzing office to work in- not to mention being in a perfect location for socializing after work.
Read more “6 months down the line: Maria Snowden, Finance IP”

Maria profile pic Finance

Finance, it’s not just sitting in an office all…

Hi- my name’s Maria and I’m three months into my Industrial Placement in the Finance Function. I work in Brand Development for Homecare, which is a really exciting global role that gives me a first look at some of the newest innovations coming out of Unilever. I’ve already been given lots of responsibility after just a short while- including leading a Strategic Plan for the Living Hygiene brand in Household Care, updating the quarterly results scorecard for the Homecare VP and creating a cost model to identify potential for margin improvement.

It was pretty daunting coming in for my first day working in central London. However, I was soon put at ease since everyone in my team was so welcoming; my manager even took me for lunch on the rooftop terrace on the first day! Day to day it’s not just creating and updating spread sheets- I’m also having conversations with people all over the world about some of the key issues affecting the Homecare category. I’m constantly liaising with new people, learning about different aspects of management accounting and problem solving, which definitely keeps me on my toes.

But it’s not been all about finance- I’ve also done had some additional voluntary work towards Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. In September, through Unilever I got the opportunity to spend a day with a fantastic charity called Fareshare, who distribute surplus food from supermarkets to places that really need it- including homeless shelters, rehab and community centres. We spent the day delivering food all over London and meeting the people who benefit from their work. You can see us below (I’m second from the left) enjoying a cuppa before we set off on a hard day’s work!

Maria Finance

I also contributed to Dove’s Self Esteem Project by delivering a body confidence workshop to a group of Year 8 students. It was a pretty nerve wracking experience- and a long way from the days at the office that I’ve been used to! But it was incredibly rewarding to see how well the kids responded, and we even got some freebies at the end of the day.

I’ll soon be rotating to a new role, so I look forward to seeing what the next few months will bring!

Alex Walton profile Finance

My first few weeks as a finance UFLP: Alex…

Hi everyone,

I’m Alex and I’ll be writing a few blogs on my time in the graduate scheme (UFLP) at Unilever. I’m on the Financial Management programme and I’m currently based in Leatherhead on my first placement. I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into my first month at the company, and let you know what I’ve been up to and what you can expect when you get here!

Read more “My first few weeks as a finance UFLP: Alex Walton”

amelia 1 Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in Finance: Amelia Swan, SP

Hello – I’m Amelia and I’m on the Finance Summer Placement. I’m going into my final year at Durham in October. Here are my highlights so far, things I’ve learnt and what I’ve been working on…

Some highlights…

  • Free Ben and Jerrys
  • Finance Sports Day (Should have seen me win the bouncy hopper race)
  • Living in London
  • Team away day to the Escape Rooms
  • The view from the rooftop garden at the central London office
  • Discounted Shop (Definitely making the most of it)
  • Lots of freebies!
  • After work drinks and meals out

amelia 1

Photo of the winning team of our Finance Office Olympic Games (I’m in the middle!).

I honestly had no finance knowledge/experience before I started (I’m studying Biology and Anthropology). This has not mattered at all and I feel like those studying Finance/economics related degrees had no head start at all.

Finance is a very diverse function – I’ve had nothing to do with any accounting in my placement. I’m working in a centralised finance team that provides financial insights to the category teams (i.e. Hair, Skin Care, Tea etc) and to those teams working with the customers (Tesco, Boots etc). It’s interesting seeing the monthly figures behind brands I use all the time and how they perform compared to competitors.

12 weeks seems like ages but means you can get into the role and make a difference. It goes quickly as you’re so busy with a work plan set on day 1. Sounds daunting but it’s cool to be able to get stuck into your own projects and feel useful.

Things I’ve been working on…

  1. Creating a file that compares the shelf price of products against our key competitors which updates every week, in each Customer (Learning to love Excel).
  2. Creating an Information Pack for New Joiners in CD Finance.
  3. Helping with the monthly sales forecasting process.
  4. My ‘Plus 1’ – Arranging a ‘Durham@Unilever’ Afternoon – Entrepreneurs Durham Society are coming to Unilever for an afternoon in September to find out about the company and careers.

So far it’s been challenging, rewarding, fun, and a very steep learning curve! The weeks have flown by and I’m looking forward to what the next 6 weeks will bring.

Stuart Business areas

Why you should consider Finance: Stuart Hoddinott, UFLP

I am currently one year into starting working and it feels like I finished university yesterday. Finance seemed like the right option for me because out of all the functions at Unilever, it was the one that I felt the most relation to. My degree was in Economics but what you study has no impact on your ability to work in finance, Unilever accepts people with all sorts of background and they teach you what you need to know to succeed here.

My first placement was working as a Business Partner in the Global Deodorants team. This involved helping the marketing guys to make decisions from a financial point of view about some of the biggest projects they were hoping to launch in the near future. For a first role, it was fantastic. I got to work hands on with some Unilever’s brands and I learnt from the bottom up how major innovations come to market. On top of that I had the opportunity to work with a large variety of people from all across the world. An amazing experience is seeing an advert pop up on telly, or a product appear on shelf, knowing that you have worked on the business case for that product.

For my second placement, I have been sent to work in the European supply chain hub that is based in Schaffhausen. This means that I get the chance to live and work in Switzerland for 9 months! So far, it has been an incredible experience. One of the major pieces of work I have been involved in is helping to build the plan for the European supply chain in 2015. This is an amazing chance to see how planning happens in the supply chain and the way that Unilever places itself to become the market leader in supply chain. During the weekend, I get the chance to explore Switzerland and the surrounding countries and at the minute am waiting for snow to come so that skiing can begin.

One of the main reasons that I chose finance is because of the ability to see the widest range of the business possible. Finance touches every part of Unilever which means that you have the opportunity to work in every aspect of the company. I have given two examples, but you could also work with the sales teams, with the country marketing teams, with HR and so on. My two roles I have had so far couldn’t be further from one another and that is a great opportunity to learn as much about the business as possible. The culture in Unilever is unique as well. You are encouraged to learn and to take on responsibility as soon as you walk through the door. From what I can tell, the grad program here is pretty unique.

In terms of tips for applying for finance, I think it is important to show your enthusiasm for the function and an understanding of what role finance plays within Unilever. Good luck!

finance-2 Finance

Welcome IPSP Finance!

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

Abbie-Thistlethwaite

Name: Abbie Thistlethwaite

University: Loughborough University

Course: Accounting & Financial Management

Function: Finance

Role Title: CD Finance Analyst, Tesco

What attracted you to Unilever?

The UFLP (Grad scheme) and free ice cream

Any top tips for future applicants?         

Know the brands and understand Unilever’s core competencies. It was also useful to understand that the company has a strong marketing focus, which was highlighted as a strength during my assessment centre.  Just be confident in your abilities!

Alex-Bick

Name: Alex Bick

University: Nottingham University

Course: Economics with French

Function: Finance

Role Title: ETS Finance Support- IT Geography

What attracted you to Unilever?

Initially, the prospect of working for a world leader in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry- a constantly evolving industry- was the main attraction to working at Unilever. Unilever’s global presence also offers a huge number of opportunities to work abroad, meet people from different cultures and travel within your work which appealed to me, as a keen traveller. I was attracted to the Finance role particularly because it offered a chance to add real value to the business and promised immediate responsibility at the start of my placement for personal growth in my work. In the second week of my placement, I was communicating with Unilever employees based across Europe, resolving issues with actuals that would make a real difference in next month’s reports. Working for a company that owns renowned brands like Ben & Jerry’s also has its perks!

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do your research! Know the real reason you want to work at Unilever, why working at an Fast Moving Consumer Goods company appeals to you and what attracts you to your chosen function.

Be yourself! Your assessors want to get the best out of you and find out if you are suited to the company. They want you to show your best side.

Matthew-Haughton

Name: Matthew Haughton

University: University of Oxford

Course: Mathematics

Function: Finance

Role Title: Unilever International Finance Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

So many things attracted me to Unilever! One great aspect of Unilever is that it is a truly global company with over 2 billion consumers using a Unilever product every day! Unilever has a huge variety of brands in its portfolio from Cif household cleaning products to Magnum ice creams.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Ensure that you understand Unilever’s Standards of Leadership as these form an important part of both the recruitment process and Unilever’s culture. It is very helpful to try and think of examples of experiences where you have demonstrated each of the five Standards of Leadership.

Romilly-Smith

Name: Romilly Smith

University: University of Edinburgh (& 1 year at University of California, San Diego)

Course: Social Anthropology and Politics

Function: Finance

Role Title: ROMI Finance Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

Opportunity to work for a Fast Moving Consumer Goods company with potential roles abroad.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do not let your degree title put you off applying for any of the functions – it really does not matter in the assessment day, they just want to see how you think and whether you can be analytical in a general sense.

FNC Business areas

Finance Class of 2013!

Astrid
Name:
Astrid Barsk

Degree: Economic History (MSc)

University: London School of Economics

Based at: 100VE

First role: Global Financial Analytics

What attracted you to Unilever:  Last year I was working at the U.N. in Rome, but I knew that I wanted to move in to the private sector. I was interested in the strategic aspect of decision making within a company and wanted to gain exposure to this across a wide range of business areas.

I applied to Unilever because the finance function, as a whole, aims to address many of the strategic questions such as “Where do we have to position our business geographically to ensure strong growth in the future” or “How to navigate changing demographics in our consumer base?” that I was interested in learning about.

In the end, I chose Unilever because the UFLP programme structure means I wouldn’t be pigeon holed in to one role. Instead, over three years I would get a wide breadth of experience: from sales, marketing, or supply chain through business partnering to a very macro-level understanding from my current placement!

Daisy
Name: 
Daisy McElhinney

Degree:  Political Science (BA Hons)  Carbon Finance (MSc)

University: University of Birmingham and University of Edinburgh

Based at: 100VE

First Role: Global Sustainability Finance

What attracted me to Unilever: As someone from a sustainability and climate change background in my masters, the USLP was a huge influence in my decision to apply for the UFLP at Unilever.  The fact that I would be working for a company that not only did big business, but did it well and did it responsibly really stood out against a list of purely profit driven companies.  We also make PG tips, who doesn’t want to work for the company that makes PG tips?!Name: Samantha Kelly

Degree: Law (LLB)

University: University of Leeds

Based at: Kingston

First role: Global Operations IT Services – Enterprise and Technology Solutions

What attracted me to Unilever: There are few graduate schemes out there which provide you with the opportunity to become a manager within two to three years of starting with the business. I wanted to be challenged, given responsibility from the offset, and be provided with the opportunity to add real value to the role and team I would placed in. To date, the UFLP has exceeded my expectations in each of these areas. Furthermore, the roles within Finance are vastly varied – the rotations provide a broad range of experience which builds an excellent foundation upon which to start your career in Finance. On a lighter note, working for a business which owns brands such as Lynx and Ben & Jerry’s makes a much more interesting conversation than introducing yourself as an accountant!

Stephanie
Name: Stephanie Galliers

Degree: Criminology and Psychology (BA Hons)

University: University of Liverpool

Based at: 100VE Blackfriars (Global UK Office for Unilever)

First role: Global Business Partner for one of our 5 Global brands in Household Care

What attracted me to Unilever: I joined the programme as part of the Finance function along with 8 other graduates in September this year. What initially attracted me to Unilever was their reputation and global presence. Such a large organization has the ability to offer huge potentials for personal growth, and the possibility of international travel. After researching into the finance graduate opportunities I was further drawn to the prospects that were available and the clear investment that Unilever would make in terms of funding the CIMA qualification for each of us. Despite having worked here for almost 2 months, I am still grasping the variety of opportunities available and still amazed at the responsibility that I have already acquired in my role.

Stuart
Name:
Stuart Hoddinott

Degree: Government and Economics

University: LSE

Based at: 100 VE

First Role: Managing Russia and Ukraine for brand development deodorants

What attracted me to Unilever: I did a Summer Placement here last year and after a few weeks I decided that it was one of the best companies I could imagine working for. I had never done any kind of placement before where I was involved so heavily and given so much responsibility from the first day I walked through the door. After seeing the kind of work that year’s grads were doing, I was convinced that I wanted to come back and work here after Uni. Luckily for me, everything went to plan with the interview and here I am a year later doing an incredible role where I am constantly challenged.

Owen
Name:
Owen McMahon

Degree: Economics

University: University of Exeter

Based at: Leatherhead

First role: Customer Finance – Sainsbury’s and Waitrose

What attracted you to Unilever; Unilever’s exposure and success in emerging markets was what made them really stand out to me. I could see clearly that Unilever was a company that understood the importance of developing and emerging markets, and as a result of this they are extremely well positioned for the future.

Ravi
Name:
Ravi Pall

Degree: Physics MSci & ARCS

University: Imperial College London

Based at: UK&I HQ (Leatherhead)

First Role: Finance Business Partner UK&I Ice Cream

What attracted me to Unilever: The idea that I would have an opportunity to work for a leader in in an incredibly interesting industry (FMCG). Also, the Unilever graduate scheme offers amazing career prospects of becoming a leader in Finance after 2-3 years on the scheme and a qualification in CIMA. From the role profiles posted on the website and graduate blog, I realised that I would get the chance to make real tangible decisions in a company that impacts the lives of over 2 billion people every day.

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!

Finance

You have a choice!

The purpose of this blog is to explain why YOU should choose to work in Finance at Unilever and shun the pocket-bursting bonuses of the banks and the jet-set lifestyle of the consultancies.. If it doesn’t succeed in doing this, then I apologize for wasting your time!

A role in Global Hair Brand Development Finance (one of the possible roles available to UFLP graduates when they join Unilever) effectively turns a trainee into the CFO of a particular brand. I manage a multi-million Hair Brand which has sales in over 15 countries and is rapidly expanding. Finance is absolutely pivotal to the long-term success of this brand, ensuring that the correct product investments are made in the most promising geographies. When budgets become tight, it is Finance that has to call the tough decisions and ensure resources are where they need to be.  It is a bonus that one can do all this in a glamorous industry like Hair, surrounded by some of the marketing world’s funkiest characters.

Whilst this is one of the largest FMCGs in the world, I can’t stress enough how much effort is made to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit that is inherited through the smaller brands (Ben&Jerry and TiGI to name a few) Unilever acquires. Managers encourage the most junior of employees to share best practices from these smaller and creative companies to keep Unilever as nimble as possible.

Many graduates I know have become disenchanted with jobs because they didn’t see the value they were adding to society in what they did. Contributing to a more sustainable planet is one of the ways in which Brand Development Finance lets trainees see and feel the real impact of their endeavour. One of my major projects involves working with one of the largest retailers worldwide to increase the attractiveness of specific Hair products which minimise the use of water and electricity.

The tide is turning; the value of a rigorous training within a pulsating industry is rapidly making itself apparent to the most forward-thinking of grads out there. Make sure you are one of them.

(Thanks to huskyte77 on Flickr for the great pic!)