Angus Giddins Business areas

Summer Placement Mid-Point Reflection!

Having now worked at Unilever for 6 weeks, some Summer Placement students reflect on their experience as they reach the half-way point…

Charndeep Singh, Supply Chain

Charndeep

Office Location: Manufacturing Excellence Centre (MEC) Port Sunlight

Most exciting experience so far: Leading Autonomous Maintenance training sessions for operators.

Key skill  learnt you will take back to university: People management skills. Having to coordinate with and motivate operators and engineers to comply with standards set and improvements made has been challenging but highly rewarding.

Read more “Summer Placement Mid-Point Reflection!”

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”

Raji profile pic Business areas

6 months down the line: Raji Khaira, Marketing IP

Hi my name is Raji and I am currently an undergraduate placement candidate, in marketing at the wonderful world we call Unilever. I study Business and International relations at Aston University. I have worked in retail as a part time job for many years mostly at phone shops, so I enjoy a good sale and definitely love the evolving world of technology. Read more “6 months down the line: Raji Khaira, Marketing IP”

Clodagh profile Local Internship Programme

The Scoop on Ice Cream: Clodagh Chapman, R&D IP

Hi everyone, my name is Clodagh and I’m now almost six months into my year-long placement with Unilever, working as Process Development Technologist within the Ice Cream Category. My role involves working on a number of short-term projects both alone and in a team, with the overall aim to apply an engineering approach to develop, evaluate, and improve processes used to make ice cream across the company.

Settling In…

As for most, the thought of leaving the security of university and starting a full-time job was very daunting. However, thinking back now to what I anticipated a workplace to be like, I could not have been more wrong! I quickly learnt that the ‘real world’ wasn’t quite as intimidating as I expected it to be; not once did I get laughed at for asking a silly question or for getting lost in the offices. Instead, I was greeted with a smile from everyone I met or passed by, and quickly felt like part of the team.

My first week with Unilever was spent taking part in the Ice Cream Technology Course, a training week run annually, which is aimed at newcomers to the category. This meant I gained vital knowledge on every area within the Ice Cream category, as well as having the chance to network with many others based in Ice Cream across the globe.

One thing that surprised me most during my first week – and still surprises me up until today – is how much time and effort goes into the development and production of an ice cream!

Gelato Flavour Profiling

One of my main projects so far has been based on the flavour profiling of a premium gelato company. Seeing as gelato products are so focussed on flavour delivery, this work was important in establishing the flavour profile of current products, as well as seeing how this compares to competitor products.

This was a very technically challenging project, which involved running trials in the pilot plant here at Colworth, as well as analysing the flavour profiles of samples using Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry. This project taught me that even if the work you are given is not something you have directly learnt about at university, you have to apply the skills you have and use your initiative to research and learn about a whole new area of study.

My biggest achievement so far on placement was a result of this project – the huge improvement in my presentation skills. After only ever presenting once at University, I was always very nervous at the thought of having to stand in front of a big group and present alone, but practice makes perfect! After a number of smaller presentations, I was trusted to present my findings to Supply Chain, an important customer of the Ice Cream category, and to a Senior VP in the company.

Life in Bedford

During my placement year, I am living in Bedford – a relatively small town around 60 miles north of London. Getting used to living in a new town where you don’t know anyone is always difficult, but by joining clubs outside of work it didn’t take me long to feel at home.

One of the best things about working full-time is having weekends to yourself – with no guilty thoughts that you should be finishing that assignment for university – so I try to make the most of them! I like to spend my weekends exploring the local area and visiting friends all over the country.

Tara Ennis profile Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Port Sunlight, the birthplace of Unilever: Tara Ennis, BTM…

Hello, I am Tara and I am on a Business and Technology Management (BTM) Industrial Placement. Doing a degree in Sustainable Development and Politics at the University of Edinburgh you may be wondering how I ended up in Business and IT function. Well truthfully, it was not solely the function that attracted me to the scheme; it was also my pure fascination and appreciation for the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan that drew me in. That being said, I will leave my personal story for a later date because as I am based in Port Sunlight, the birthplace of Unilever, I feel it is only appropriate to dedicate my inaugural post to our founder, Lord Lever-Hulme himself.

William Lever, the son of a humble grocer, was a visionary and progressivist whose legacy not only radiates through Unilever today, but can be seen throughout corporate and union strategies worldwide. From an economic perspective, his initial success was born out of Sunlight Soap – the first ever individually wrapped soap bars. Who knew, a commodity we take for granted today was considered so revolutionary just over a century ago? However, although his economic legacy rests in a company whose revenues topped £48 billion last year; what makes me (and many others) proud to be a Unilever employee is the social legacy he leaves behind.

After Sunlight soap took off, and his factory in Warrington was running at full capacity, Lever began looking for a new premises. The plot of land he chose was ideal: near a potential source of labour in neighbouring Birkenhead, with road, rail and water access, and located just off the banks of the Mersey River. Port Sunlight had found its home. However, Port Sunlight was never to be just a factory. Being a great believer in the idea that healthy labourers were more productive he pioneered the concept of employee welfare. Within a couple of years he had built an entire village of 900 homes to house employees from across his business. At a time of vast industrial revolution, where disparities and poverty were vast, Port Sunlight was considered utopian in comparison to average living standards. With a hospital, fire station, manicured gardens, leisure facilities, and schools, workers never needed to leave. In their village, where they both lived and worked, they were guaranteed a decent standard of living and better quality of life.

Port Sunlight Fire brigade
Port Sunlight Fire brigade

The village and original factory site remain almost identical to the time of their construction. Port Sunlight has been declared a Conservation Area since 1978 and has strict upkeep regulations in order to retain the character of the village. Work ethic within Unilever also remains central to Lever’s vision with a high emphasis on employee wellbeing and welfare. Simply walking through the village is a living reminder of Lever’s efforts to build the company we know and love today. If anything it makes me proud to work for a company who is founded on its progressivist thinking whilst staying true to its historical legacy. And to be reminded of that every morning is a pure joy.

 

Port Sunlight village
Port Sunlight village

If Lord Lever were to enter 21st century Port Sunlight, aside from the various mod-cons, I like to think he would be walking into an office not much different than the one he created in the late 1800s. Now that is a legacy to be proud of.

Lever House Exterior: then (R) and now (L)
Lever House Exterior: then (R) and now (L)
Entrance Vestibule: then and now
Entrance Vestibule: then and now
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!

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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

Sure deo profile Business areas

My Summer at Unilever: Dan Seeney, R&D SP

About Me

Hi I’m Dan. I’m currently in my last month working in R&D at Unilever’s Seacroft site in Leeds as part of the summer internship scheme. After I finish my placement in September I will be going back to the University of Sheffield to complete a masters in molecular biology.

Unilever Leeds

Leeds is the GDC for Unilever’s deodorant portfolio. One of its most recent high profile inventions has been the development of compressed aerosol technology which has revolutionised aerosols making them more sustainable for the future and drastically cutting wastage and CO2 emissions which is such a crucial part of Unilever’s sustainability plan.

dove compressed deodorant

A positive about working at this site has been the access to the live factory that produces more than half a billion deodorants a year for global brands including Axe, Dove, Rexona, Vaseline, and Impulse. This access allows you to gain first hand appreciation of how the work you do here can impact the production, as well be giving perspective on the scale of the project you are handling.

My Placement

My placement in packaging development exposed me to new projects that are highly confidential and very interesting. As you can imagine packaging development isn’t at all related to my degree which at first was a little daunting, but after getting in to my projects and being brought up to speed I found myself adapting quickly.

I’ve found myself working mostly in the office, but I have also spent time in the labs. This has really suited me because I would like to move in to a managerial role in the future. Working in packaging is also a very diverse environment with a vast array of projects going on all the time which has given me great exposure to the business side of R&D too.

I have been put in control of organising and driving projects which have enabled me to make contacts all over the world. This exposure to international businessmen/businesswomen from a variety of disciplines has enabled me to grow a more global view of the business and has forced me to adapt the way I engage with people in order to ensure that information is transferred effectively and a common outlook is retained.

Thoughts on the placement

One thing I am amazed at is the level of detail that the company goes to in order to ensure linearity across their suppliers worldwide. The team is constantly travelling to suppliers to ensure they are keeping within the acceptable ranges expected by Unilever. Further to this I also never appreciated how much effort is put in to develop packaging, and how much goes on to drive sustainability that consumers would probably never realise.

Something I have really enjoyed during my placement is the level of responsibility given to me from day one. Within the first few days of starting I was given tasks to complete for a major project within the team. I then got the chance to present my findings to senior stakeholders, which was a great experience to have so early in my placement. As the placement goes on the work level increase as does the level of responsibility, which is a real test as you are always learning new skills rather than on some other placements where you can find yourself shadowing people a lot.

The timing of my placement here was very fortunate with the first few weeks being very busy with the ‘R&D summer event’ where everyone from the site came together to celebrate a successful year. Further to this I was lucky enough to be here for the visit of Alan Jope (President of Unilever’s Personal Care), David Blanchard (Chief R&D Officer), Santiago Iturralde (SVP Deodorants), who gave a great Q&A session, it was interesting to learn about their careers and their opinions on the future of Unilever and was a great way to start the placement. Further to this I’ve also been lucky enough to talk with Alan Palmer (Global Vice President R&D, Deodorants) and former UFLP graduates (some who are now managers) within the company and getting some very valuable advice on careers in Unilever. Being able to network with people in these positions from very early on has given me great insight in to what I can expect from a career in Unilever as well as how to get the most out of it and reach my goals.

Top Tip

My top tips for working at Unilever would definitely be to meet as many people as possible from the start. Throw yourself in to your projects and make as many new contacts as possible. If you can get involved with training, or other projects that aren’t directly related to your goals then do because it gives you a more rounded view of what goes on in R&D. Further to this, don’t shy away from any responsibility, I remember on my first day my line manager told me to ‘fill my boots’ and I have tried my best to do just that, throwing myself in wherever possible.

The best tip though, is to simply enjoy it. Everyone here is really welcoming and friendly and is a testament to the recruitment process that everyone fits in to the team so well. It’s coming to the end of my placement now and I don’t want it to end, I feel settled in to the team and enjoying my work. It will be a huge shame to not see some of the long term projects through.

My Favourite thing about Unilever

My favourite thing about Unilever has to be the social atmosphere. The relaxed nature of the company has allowed me to feel relaxed and able to thrive in this fairly different environment. I have found the sociable nature of my colleagues really helpful as I know that if I require any help then everyone is available and more than happy to help, or point me in the direction of someone else who could help.

Closing Remarks

I hope to apply to the graduate scheme after my placement and take advantage of the fast track on to the UFLP which is a very attractive prospect for me. I look forward to the selection process again as I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last time, and hopefully this placement won’t be the last time I work within Unilever.

I recommend this placement to everybody. Unilever is well deserving in its rank as one of the best graduate employers and you will be able to tell from day one that their goal is to not only test you, but to improve you as well. I didn’t know the FMCG industry particularly well before I joined, I now see it as a potential long term career path.

Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck with your applications and potential career in Unilever.

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My UIIP Experience: Petra Zilincanova, Marketing SP

Hi all!

My name is Petra and this summer I have been lucky enough to join the ice cream Marketing team. I have been working on various brands such as SNOG, Carte D’Or, Viennetta and Wall’s. I feel very nostalgic about the amazing experience I had at Unilever.

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You probably heard many amazing things about Unilever- how everybody is very welcoming, how you are given full responsibility from day one, how exciting the industry and brands are and especially how much you learn in such a short space of time. I did not expect all of this to happen, but the reality is even better than it sounds. I am working in a multimillion corporation, in a team full of intelligent and experienced people and I still feel relevant, heard and important for business performance.

When I was applying for this role, I did not have a clear image of what marketing at Unilever really was. I would now sum it up as a managerial role that requires you to be on a constant move, communicate with a lot of stakeholders (creative agencies, customer managers, market research, and your team) and be really good at task switching. By that I mean, within one day I can work on an organizing an event, preparing a presentation, ordering samples and going to training sessions to learn more about the company. Essentially, as a marketer at Unilever you get to decide on what, when and how a product is presented to the consumer. But do not worry- it is not stressful, it is exciting! You can never get bored at Unilever. Being able to execute brand strategies and see the results in the markets is such a great motivation! Besides that, EVERYONE in the ice cream team is always happy to take a break and help me out, teach me new skills and support me if I feel insecure.

I was assigned to 4 brands, hence I am learning so much about different management styles, brand personalities and their executions. I am working on many different projects for very different brands. All of these projects are new to me so you can imagine how much I got to learn in such a short period of time!

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But enough about serious stuff- Unilever is a FUN company to work for! Everyone is always smiling, joking around. People always find time to unite and celebrate big occasions, for example by going to a Zoo or to a team meal. We have a gym where I meet people from various departments, a shop where I can buy lots of products, the ice cream team has free ice cream in the office, we have flexible working hours, frequent new product tasting sessions and often attend brand events! But most importantly, I met so many inspirational people, that I will never forget and hopefully keep in touch for longer than the internship lasts.

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Unilever really is a company that feels like home and has helped me to grow immensely. I have a lot to remember and am now looking forward to working in marketing in the future.