Lara Giardina Human Resources

Our Brands? It’s all about the people behind them

How many times did you think “Do we really want to gain a seat in the market? Let’s invest in Sales and Marketing”

Yet, there are not specific functions which are more important than others. Being successful in our markets is the result of an equation in which all our functions play a fundamental role.


But what’s the role of HR in this equation?

You may also think brands are our ‘only’ most valuable and strongest asset, and therefore our key ingredient to success. But how come these brands, among tons of other competitor’s brands, have always managed through the years to maintain their high market share and a strong brand equity? The answer is easy: it’s because of the people behind these brands!

Read more “Our Brands? It’s all about the people behind them”

Ollie Smith-profile Human Resources

Tchaikovsky to TIGI: Ollie Smith, HR UFLP

With a tightening job market, dwindling public support, and cuts from government funding, arts and humanities degrees are struggling to assert their relevance in today’s commercial environment.

Or so people often think.

Whilst students become increasingly concerned about employer opinion and their degree’s potential to land them a job post-graduation, and rightly so, pursuing a degree in the arts or humanities still allows you to develop a wealth of skills, and affords you many experiences on which you can draw, that you can successfully apply in the workplace. Whilst there are a few graduate schemes that demand specific degree subjects from applicants, Unilever is a great example of a business that welcomes applications from any degree type for most of its programmes.

I have degrees in Music and Musicology from Birmingham Conservatoire and the University of Birmingham, and yet I now find myself on the Unilever Future Leader’s Programme (UFLP) in my first placement as a Global HR Business Partner. This role places me directly at the heart of one of Unilever’s more recent acquisitions, the premium haircare brand TIGI, where I’ve been given immediate responsibility and accountability: instead of score analysis, my days are filled with data analysis, capability projects, and managing End of Year employee performance assessments. Of course I don’t have specific training in business or Human Resources, but Unilever doesn’t expect you to be an expert – that’s where the UFLP steps in.

So if you’re wondering if you can apply, or if you can compete with slick Business graduates for what are highly competitive programmes, the answer is yes – I would encourage you to apply and leverage the different experience your degree has given you to mark yourself out from other applicants. That’s not to say that it won’t be tough however, and so here are my top tips for making an application:

  • Know the business; know Unilever. There is never an excuse for not doing your research, and you will be expected to be clued up with how the business is performing both in the UK and further afield. What are our challenges? What is the marketplace like?
  • Know why Unilever is right for you. Why are you convinced that you belong here and not Nestlé, Proctor and Gamble, or L’Oréal? What is Unilever all about as a company?
  • Leverage your experience and make it unique. Don’t simply refer to group projects or typical university situations when answering competency questions, but try to use something more interesting or unusual that not all students will have been able to do, especially as an arts and humanities graduate. If you can relate your example directly to the question being asked whilst making it different and memorable, this will help to put you ahead.
  • Know the function. This is particularly important if you’re not from a business or science background, as you might need to do some additional research, but this is time well spent as you need to know as much as possible about the business area to which you’re applying.
  • Be confident. This sounds like such a flippant thing to say, but being confident enough to articulate yourself well is crucial – don’t let nerves prevent the interviewer from seeing your potential.

Toi toi toi!

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Enactus and Unilever

In your time at Unilever as a graduate or placement student, you are set your work goals under a framework known as your “3+1’s” which are linked to the Standards of Leadership (you can find out more about here: http://www.unilever.co.uk/careers-jobs/graduates/application-process/).  Typically, the “3” of the goals are on “main role” at Unilever and the “+1” is your chance to support and develop Unilever’s graduate recruitment goals. This could mean being a part of an on-campus team promoting Unilever at a university or managing the onboarding process for the next group of students and graduates to join. From now on, you’ll also have the opportunity to work in developing Unilever’s relationship with Enactus UK.

Together with Abs Islam (Marketing Placement Student) we were lucky enough to join at the beginning of this process. As a sponsor company, we were given the opportunity by Enactus to launch our very own Individual Topic Competition to work with individual Enactus projects or whole Enactus teams – that choice, was down to us.

The award gave us an opportunity to really show off Unilever’s proudest asset: Our Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). If you ask everyone here what were the reasons they joined or the main reasons that they stay, the USLP often features in their top 3 (just above free Ben & Jerry’s, obviously). We were then able to pick an issue related to the Sustainable Living Plan that is very important to us and that Enactus projects could benefit from our support… we chose waste – the sexiest of topics!

Waste is an incredibly important issue around the world and Unilever is taking responsibility for its own impact and its influence everytime somebody uses one of our products – 2 billion times a day, by the way.

Our award is set up to incentivise projects to come up with entrepreneurial means of addressing the issue of waste whether that’s through a product or packaging innovation or even consulting businesses in communities to tackle waste across the value chain.

Throughout the year we were able to work directly with Enactus teams from across the UK – whether it was conference calls or one of the two project dens we hosted at Leatherhead and 100VE (Blackfriars). We’re serious about pairing up our expertise to support projects that share our aims and hope the competition and partnership with Enactus will continue to be a great way for us to do that with university students.

That way, as all Enactus students will say… #WeAllWin

Laura Allsopp profile2 Human Resources

Living and breathing the USLP: Laura Allsopp, HR UFLP

So it’s been just 3 months since I embarked on my UFLP journey, and what a blast it has been so far! For those out there that think HR isn’t a strategic part of the business I compel you to keep reading, as my first placement has seen my working on exciting projects that directly contribute to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. I am part of a team that looks after programmes that we run nationally, from diversity and inclusion to mental health and wellbeing, and in my case youth employability. In the UK and Ireland youth employability is a priority for realising our ambition of increasing our social impact, contributing to a Billion Better Lives. I have had the opportunity to really throw myself into the concept, from meeting lots of other organisations and charity partners to government and industry bodies. This has allowed me to gain some real expertise into not only how we make a positive social impact, but also help to support and build the talent of the future!

So what does this actually look like? Well firstly it involves me having overall accountability for the programmes that we run. This means I have to work closely with both my team and also all of our sites to ensure that we are running activities aligned to having a positive impact on youth employability. This can include work experience, employability skills days, running schools workshops, and also more formal work experience that we run in partnership with a charity such as the Prince’s Trust. As you can begin to see this is a huge amount of responsibility, as it means that I need to regularly engage with and support sites on being able to run these programmes. Similarly due to the continued focus on youth employability by government we also have external pressure to use our scale for good through the running of these kind of programmes. Secondly the role allows me to really think strategically about our social impact and how we can best develop this. Our offering in this area is quite new, therefore I have had to opportunity to design an entire strategy about where I think we should take this concept; this was based on who we should work with, what the external context is and how this aligns to our internal business strategy.

So where does it go from here? I think the rest of my placement is going to be largely focused on really driving forward our youth employability programmes, making sure that we not only meet our commitments, but even exceed them, as well as making a positive social impact to the lives of hundreds of young people. This is a really exciting role to be in and hopefully you can see that in Unilever the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan really is at the heart of the business, as is HR Management!

Kingston Business areas

Working in Kingston: Lianna Beesley-Peck, HR SP

Hi everyone, I’m Lianna and I am currently just over half-way through an HR Summer Placement. For the last 8 weeks I’ve been working at the Kingston office.

The Office

The first person you’re sure to meet at Kingston is Bob. Bob is Kingston’s Security and is known for his cheery greetings every morning and evening. Bob’s polite and friendly manner is typical of everyone I’ve met, not only at Kingston, but at Unilever as a whole. Whatever your question, role, department or length of visit, everyone will go out of their way to help you making Kingston a wonderful place to work.

The office is completely relaxed, people turn up in comfortable clothing (jeans are in, suits out); there are also comfortable chairs and sofas for coffee breaks or informal meetings. Desks are first come first served, whatever your work level, you’re free to choose your desk each day meaning you work alongside a wide range of people. Bookable and non-bookable rooms are also available for larger meetings or more sensitive phone calls. Importantly, you never struggle to find a room or a desk, whatever the time of day.

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Each of the six floors has a drinks area offering a wide range of complimentary coffees, teas and hot chocolate. There’s also a fridge if you wish to bring your own lunch, but most employees take advantage of the reasonably priced and high quality food produced by the Catering team in the Cafeteria. A free selection of fruit is available daily, but most importantly various flavours of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are also available!

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And for when you think you’ve taken advantage of the ice cream too much, there is an on-site Gym free to all employees. The gym offers a wide range of equipment, classes throughout the day, good showers and newly renovated changing rooms. I started off going to the gym several times a week, though I might have slipped a little lately…

Kingston Gym

And then there is Eben. Eben is the magic guy to whom you take your poorly laptop and he clicks a few things and there you go: it works like new! I have a reputation for being useless with computers, but Eben has managed to solve all my issues (for example fixing excel for me only yesterday). He runs a walk in session each day, which makes it easy and convenient to get anything you need fixed.

And finally – the shop. The Kingston shop stocks a wide range of Unilever products and sells them for below-the-high-street prices. It’s perfect for gifts to friends or stocking up for yourself!

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Virtual and Agile Working

No matter where you are based, you’ll quickly find that your colleagues are all around the world. For example, one of the two people I work with the most sits next to me, while the other is in the Netherlands. As a result most Unilever meetings are virtual (people dial in via a conference call). This also means that we have the opportunity to work from home under Unilever’s agile working policy. Despite being a Summer Intern, this is still something I can take advantage of and you’ll find, especially in Kingston, that most people work from home 1-2 days a week.

Additionally, the vast number of Unilever factories and offices means that travel is integral to working at the company. So far I’ve been fortunate to visit and work at both Port Sunlight and Leatherhead. You may also have the opportunity to travel abroad.

Living in Kingston

When looking for a place to live I decided that I’d rather live within walking distance of the office than commute in. This means I live right in the heart of Kingston which offers an incredible shopping area and high street (I walk past it on my way to work, not good on pay day). The area also boasts many riverbank restaurants as it is located along the River Thames; in fact all Kingston interns are meeting there for a meal tonight. There’s also a leisure centre, cinema and Richmond Park to explore – and don’t forget the Belgian Waffle House.

At weekends I often meet up with friends located around London and set off on some sightseeing. Living in Kingston is perfect for this because it is on a direct line to Waterloo and only takes around 30 minutes. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Centre Court at Wimbledon (just a couple of stops on the train from Kingston); posed with Benedict Cumberbatch at Madame Tussauds and been to a Gladiatorial Fight, a Magic Show and a Stand-Up Comedy performance, as well as exploring many other major sites and museums.

The fact the office is within walking distance of the train station also means that if you wanted to live in an area with greater nightlife or a little more rural, you could easily commute in each day. Kingston also has a major bus station a few minutes’ walk from the office.

This summer has flown by. I was very nervous before I started, but everyone has been so welcoming, kind and helpful. I hoped I would be based around London and Kingston has been perfect. I’ve been given so much responsibility which has boosted by own skills and confidence. But what has made this internship incredible is everyone I work with!

becky 1 Business areas

My time on the HR UFLP: Becky Coleman

Hi Everyone!

I’m Becky and joined the HR UFLP in September 2014 and I’m currently based at Leatherhead as an HR Business Partner to Customer Management (Sales). So, what have I been up to since joining? Well it’s been pretty busy!

Within the first week of joining we had an HR offsite day. This was great as it enabled me to learn about the structure of HR in Unilever and to network with lots of people. Although judging by this picture perhaps someone had just a little too much fun making a mess when it came to the evening bake off… Although I much prefer the other brown stuff…. Yes Marmite!

becky 1

The great thing about working at Unilever is that you have responsibility from the start. By mid-November, I was running the end of year review process for about 120 people. It was great to hear our talent group representatives in Customer Management have such passionate discussions about people’s development. Although it was a big responsibility to ensure, everyone had a fair end of year review.

In December I worked with the Customer Management Leadership Team and created three events on career development and the training options available. It was great to see senior leaders deliver content that I’d created to the whole of Customer Management. This was approx. 300 people! Then getting to present one of the breakout sessions and taking questions was brilliant, and it was filmed for future use on run one! So, no pressure! Also being allowed to experiment with new, interactive presentation formats for the event which has received great feedback is one of the great things about working with Unilever as people are willing to take your ideas and let you try them out even if it’s for such a large scale event.

I’m currently CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) qualified but I’m taking the next level of my CIPD as part of the HR UFLP programme. It’s great to be able to complete my professional accreditation whilst working. It ensures you get the best of practical and theoretical experiences and you also get to learn from experiences other HR professionals have in different sectors.

But maybe this just sounds like it’s all work? Well, actually as well as working with really great people we do get to have a lot of fun too! My day job is really great fun, but recently the whole of the UK and Ireland were treated to a day at Twickenham for the Gathering. This was a really exciting day as we got to see all the brand cascades for up and coming 2015 advert campaigns and product ideas and we also learnt the Haka! This symbolised bringing everyone together to drive forward as one ready for a successful 2015.

becky 3

On a factory tour during my induction

So, why did I choose HR? I knew I was never going to be in finance…. (Sorry Finance) but that one is best left to the numerical expert’s….. That left me with marketing or HR, and I have a passion for creativity and also people. I was fortunate enough to try an insight day in marketing at a competitor who for these purposes shall remain nameless….. but also to try an HR placement in a car factory when I was 17. I made the choice that HR was something I wanted to explore further as I really enjoyed developing people and seeing how people made a business tick during my time there. So, I took my undergraduate degree in HR and spent an industrial placement year in HR at an FMCG/Pharmaceutical company rotating through diversity, policy and also university recruiting. Having gained this experience, I was then keen to explore as many areas of HR as possible going forward to give my career breadth and to put my passion for talent development to good use. So, the HR UFLP provided a brilliant opportunity to do this in a business with passionate people and great brands so now I guess I get the best of both creativity and great people!

Why did I choose Unilever? Well, for all of the above really, and because Unilever is a business that is firmly rooted in the local communities that it operates in. I got to volunteer recently at the Queen Elizabeth Foundation which was a really great day and made a big difference for many people with disabilities. I also did some fundraising through assisted kayaking on the Thames for their sister charity MERU recently. It was super that Unilever were able to gift match the fundraising. I’m looking forward to going to volunteer in a school shortly to talk about careers and to inspire young people about their future options.

becky 2

In the ball pit from Comic Relief

Also I like Unilever for the great people and great brands, yes, love it or hate it, in my case I love Marmite. You can never have too much of a good thing!

I’m looking forward to continuing to experience the broad range of experiences that the HR UFLP programme brings.

So if you’re interested in starting a HR career or have previous HR experience Unilever is a really great place to develop a HR career.

Ailsa Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in HR: Ailsa McKinnon, IP

Hello!

My name is Ailsa McKinnon, I am currently 7 weeks into my industrial placement in Leatherhead within the Human Resources Expertise team. The most important thing I have learnt so far is that HR is so much more than hiring, firing and red tape. The HR Expertise team handles, in my (bias) opinion the most interesting segment of HR. They deal with Early Career Talent Acquisition and Learning and Development for the UK and Ireland, this means they look both inside and outside the business to find the best candidates to fill positions within the business and help to develop them to their full potential.

Ailsa

Although based in the UK and Ireland HQ my role does have European and Global focuses, within my current work plan I am heavily involved in the Unilever Future Leader’s League a global marketing competition. One of themain benefits of working for Unilever is the amount of responsibility you receive and the opportunities you are given, all of which have their own impact on the company. Currently I am working with an external agency to redesign the European website used for the competition, this will be seen and used by candidates around Europe and I have the privilege of saying it is my design and my ideas. In the process of creating this website I have linked with members of several Global Unilever teams including Vietnam, China and Singapore.

Another of my responsibilities is the organizing and running of the Unilever Future Leaders Program induction, whereby we introduce the new graduates to Unilever by showing them the best of Unilever. Organizing accommodation, catering and travel for 45 people has been a challenge, but a great learning experience. I have learnt the importance of time management, forward planning and negotiation techniques. In addition, I have had the opportunity work with a wide variety of personnel of different work levels and from functions including members of the Country Leadership Team. Unilever offers an amazing level of exposure which you can’t find anywhere else and staying in some lovely hotels isn’t a bad perk either!

Unilever focuses on the development of its Industrial/Summer placements. It is important we see a wide variety of areas for our own benefit and learning. This is why we are given ‘+1’ in order to not only utilize our knowledge of our target markets (Undergraduates and Graduates) but also allow us to see how we communicate with the rest of the world and how important this is. My +1 role is the Digi(tal) Team, within this team I will have full control of the graduate YouTube and Google + pages. Again this responsibility is very big, it is important that we communicate to potential employees and the world in general with the right tone and portray the correct messages and ideals we have at Unilever.

These ideals are based around the 5 standards of leadership; growth mindset, consumer and customer focus, bias for action, accountability and responsibility and building talent and teams. Despite only being 7 weeks in (which has flown by!) these have been at the forefront of all my learnings. Since arriving I have had certainly had my hands full with various projects but the support from my team has been incredible. From day one I have felt welcomed and comfortable in asking questions, developing myself and trying new things. So far I have already tackled jobs that prior to starting sounded incredibly daunting and I have enjoyed them immensely.

Unilever offers an opportunity unlike others presented with a focus on developing us as employees. From day one you are integrated into the culture, you become part of the Unilever ‘we’. So far it has been very enjoyable and I cannot wait what awaits for me in the remainder of my placement, with a great team and the daily free ice cream I am sure I can tackle any challenges that I will face.

Alexandra-Rigg Human Resources

The Truth Behind a Placement in HR at Unilever:…

Hi everyone!

My names Alex and I’m a current HR Industrial Placement student based at the Port Sunlight Sourcing Units. I’m midway through my placement as I’ve already completed 6 months of my placement and I want to take the opportunity to talk to you about my experiences on the programme so far!

Hopefully you’re reading this because you’re thinking about applying to the HR IP scheme with Unilever! There are currently 4 HR IP students including myself, and we’re all based in very different roles. Although we all applied through the same central scheme our roles are all very different. So I wanted to give you an insight from my own experiences as to what it is like to work within supply chain HR in the sourcing units.

Initially I was quite scared about starting my placement, as I assumed I would be based in an office environment and I was a bit daunted by the idea of working in a factory. I didn’t know anything about machinery or processes within a factory and all the terminology which was being used sounded like a foreign language to me! But I soon learnt that everyone was more than willing to help if asked and wanted spend the time with me to ensure I understood everything. The key is just to let someone know if you’re struggling – don’t suffer in silence.

My team are all really friendly and they eased me into my placement from day one making me feel more than welcome. I was given my proposed work plan within my first few weeks of starting and my Line Manager went through each of my goals. At Unilever you are given 3 work plan goals and a development objective. The 3 goals are projects which give you real responsibility to have full ownership of and to manage freely. In order to effectively succeed and achieve my goals in their entirety I have been required to arrange meetings and work with people of all different work levels ranging from the Works Director of the site to Production Operatives. I have also had to work with external consumers such as the Job Centre, the Prince’s Trust and Universities so quite a big scope but I can genuinely say that this has greatly improved my confidence and has challenged my weaknesses!

I have learnt so much over these past 6 months and the experience you will gain from doing a placement with Unilever is something which University can’t teach you. You will get real hands- on experience focusing on turning your weaknesses into strengths and building upon your strengths. On my first day my manager asked me to list my weaknesses and he ensured that my goals were aligned to challenging these weaknesses (this initially may sound like your worst nightmare) but trust me you’ll be so thankful for this once you have converted these weaknesses into skill areas. By confronting your weaknesses this is one of the most powerful tools you can use to learn and grow. I have now led employability workshops, run induction sessions, facilitated staff workshops and I’ve even managed 12 inviduals through a months’ work experience – something which originally I never thought I would have done as I would have classed public speaking as a weakness of mine. This is definitely something I would consider to be a programme highlight!

Ultimately not only is the content of the scheme testing, challenging and rewarding you also get the satisfaction of working for Unilever; a truly global company which places a great emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility. Project Sunlight is a way of activating Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. As part of my work plan, I have been asked to launch this initiative within the factory to raise awareness so that everyone understands what Unilever do for the wider community – this is something I have really enjoyed doing as one of the main things which attracted me to apply to Unilever was the actions they take towards positive change. If you haven’t already you should visit www.projectsunlight.co.uk and check out all the ways Unilever is driving sustainable growth to create a brighter future for everyone!

hr-2 Human Resources

Welcome IPSP Human Resources!

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

Alexandra-Rigg

Name: Alexandra Rigg

University: University of Liverpool

Course: Business Studies with a Year in Industry

Function: Human Resources

Role Title: Supply Chain HR Business Partner

What attracted you to Unilever?

The company’s values and ethics

Any top tips for future applicants?

Preparation and research is essential! Make sure you’ve researched the company and the role before you apply.

Ben-Spells

Name: Ben Spells

University: Oxford

Course: Maths

Function: HR

Role Title: HR Summer Placement student

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever is a global company with lots of exciting brands so I thought it would be a great place to work… and indeed it is!  I was also really impressed by Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan and its work in creating a diverse and inclusive environment.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do loads of research about Unilever: the more you do, the more passionate you will be to work here, and that will come across at all stages of the application process.  Have a good look at Unilever’s Standards of Leadership and try to think of examples of when you’ve demonstrated these!

Charlotte-Penn

Name: Charlotte Penn

University: University of Warwick

Course: History

Function: Human Resources

Role Title: HR National Programs

What attracted you to Unilever?

The brands and their commitment to not just good business but corporate social responsibility and communities.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Preparation, preparation, preparation! Thinking on the spot can be hard, so make sure you have examples of your competencies and experiences fresh in your mind.

Grace-Onipede

Name: Grace Onipede

University: Aston University

Course: Psychology BSc

Function: HR

Role Title: MCO HR Generalist/ Business Partnering

What attracted you to Unilever?

Firstly, noticing that most of the brands I use and love are all made by Unilever, so I automatically knew I was interested in the company.  Likewise, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan caught my attention, I thought working for a company that is willing to help consumers worldwide is invaluable and self-fulfilling.  Furthermore, the importance of leadership and growth within Unilever was definitely a bonus, as I always look for development opportunities for the future.

Any top tips for future applicants?

I believe to work for Unilever, you must have passion about the company, this could be the USLP, Brands etc.

Hannah-Lennon

Name: Hannah Lennon

University: University College London

Course: History

Function: Human Resources

Role Title: HR Operations – Training (at Purfleet Sourcing Unit)

What attracted you to Unilever?

Having the chance to work on projects where you are given real responsibility and the chance to develop something which will have a legacy. It’s also brilliant to work with products which form such a big part of everyday life!

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you follow Unilever on social media sites, like Twitter, as there are links to lots of great articles which give you the chance to get to grips with what Unilever is doing at the moment.

Hannah-Young

Name: Hannah Young

University: Nottingham Trent University

Course: BA (hons) Management

Function: Human Resources

Role Title: Industrial Placement, HR Expertise

What attracted you to Unilever?

I was recommended to look at Unilever as a prospective employer by a man who began his career at Unilever in the HR team and it has opened many opportunities to him. After looking at the company, I liked the work ethic, management styles and focus on ‘a brighter future’. I was also influenced by the working environment, agile working, and performance and development focus.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Be confident in yourself and your ability. Research the role, our Standards of Leadership, our sustainability plan, and our Project Sunlight, know them well and know if you would fit into an environment where these concepts will be reflected in everything you do. If you are right for the role and the role is right for you, everything else will come naturally.

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Young Entrepreneurs Sustainability Award: Charlotte Penn, HR IP

Hi everyone, I’m Charlotte and I’ve recently joined Unilever as an Industrial Placement student for Human Resources.  When I was looking for a placement last year I was looking not just for good schemes but also good companies, and this is how Unilever surpassed the rest.  Unilever have a fantastic commitment to their Corporate Social Responsibility and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is a huge part of this.  This blog is just a brief snippet of the amazing opportunities Unilever has to offer whilst also making a difference.

Two billion times a day somebody, somewhere, uses a Unilever brand.  Our products have a small but important impact on the day to day lives of our consumers but while our products benefit our consumers, the way our products are consumed is not always sustainable.  The diagram below shows how consumer use has the greatest impact on the environment:

uslp

Unilever has identified its responsibility across the value chain, from the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the energy and water needed by people to cook, clean and wash with our products.  The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was introduced with the aim of doubling our business and reducing our environmental impact whilst increasing our positive social impact.   A part of this is minimizing the environmental footprint created by our products and over the last few years we have been making this possible through innovative changes to a few of our brands.  This includes the introduction of compressed Sure, Dove, Lynx and Vaseline deodorants and concentrating Persil detergent so that it also works equally as well in quicker washes.  These reformed products are examples of more sustainable solutions which have a positive impact on the environmental footprint of our consumers and also the environmental footprint of Unilever as a business.

How does this relate to you?

The Young Entrepreneurs Awards of 2014 are now open to applications and Unilever, in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, is looking for innovative but practical, tangible solutions to help make sustainable living commonplace from young entrepreneurs under the age of 30.  This includes finding sustainable solutions in the form of products, services or applications that enable changes in practices or behaviours relating to one or more of the following categories.

–         Water, sanitation and hygiene

–         Nutrition

–         Water scarcity

–         Greenhouse gases

–         Waste

–         Sustainable agriculture

–         Smallholder farmers

–         Opportunities for women

–         Micro-enterprise

–         Tackling critical issues

7 finalists will be selected to enter into a four week online development programme followed by an accelerated 2 day workshop at Cambridge University.  They will receive €200,000 worth of financial support and tailored mentoring and the winner will be presented with the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize at the Prize Event in January 2015.

Last year’s contestants showed an incredible awareness of the sustainability issues being faced primarily in third world countries and came up with feasible and practical ways of tackling them.  Programmes included a solution to the uncertainty of the provision of water due to the intermittent water supply in India using text messages to alert people an hour before water would be coming through so they could get on with their daily lives as normal instead of waiting, unknowing, for the next supply.  Also a service providing a dry, portable toilet, which can be put anywhere in the home, and is emptied regularly for a small monthly fee, massively improving the sanitary conditions of communities in Peru.

The programme of the winning finalist was the exchange of household waste for free healthcare in Indonesia in order to not only improve people’s health but also try and change the behaviours which have a negative impact on sanitation.

For more information about last years’ programmes and to apply, if you think you’ve got what it takes, visit: http://www.unilever.co.uk/aboutus/Awards-2014/index.aspx

We can’t wait to hear your ideas and how you believe you can contribute, alongside Unilever, to make the world a better, happier and, most importantly, a more sustainable place.