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.

jump Research & Development

Finding My Feet, Walking & Beginning to Run

 

Hi all & Happy New Year! As I am writing this blog, things are just getting up and running again in the office here in Leeds following a good break.

Finding My Feet

In my first blog I explained all about the induction week and my first few weeks in Leeds, where I learned a lot about Unilever, deodorants and sweat! At this point I was finding my feet, getting to know the site, the office, my team and my project.

My project is focussed on identifying new fragrance technology propositions. It is a high priority project in the deodorents category and very little had been completed before I arrived. It was my responsibility to take the idea and drive it into a development programme. The team I work with is small, but includes the Formulation, Fragrance and Consumer Insight Directors. This is when I really realised how important this project is and how much responsibility has been given to me.

Walking

After finalising the objectives of the project, I set about achieving them. I was required to start a fragrance briefing process. Firstly I had to write a brief, this is something I have never done before and actually due to the scope of this work (across all brands & applicators) it was a very unusual task. Fragrance briefs are usually very specific and this had to be incredibly broad. This was a challenging task, but it was really important to the successful kick-off of the briefing process.

Once the brief was written, I had to organise formal briefing of fragrance houses. I invited 3 houses to Leeds and we had thorough discussions regarding the brief. I set out some very challenging timing’s in the brief and the fragrance houses returned every 3 weeks for updates. In between, I was in constant conversations internally & externally ensuring everything was moving forward swiftly.

Beginning to Run

In order for the fragrance house to complete the development work, I had to arrange for deodorant formulations to be produced and dispatched to them. This meant I was particularly busy, constantly in and out of the lab ensuring everything was made and dispatched.

Fragrance houses are currently busy doing their development work and I expect to see good developments in a couple of weeks. I am still in regular conversation with the houses. Now that the briefing process is running smoothly, I have been given more mini-projects to begin. This is great to be given further responsibilities and I will learn more, especially how to manage my time which will become more precious.

Most importantly I am having so much fun. Thinking about all of the things I have done in such a short time really excites me!  And now I am looking forward to my last few months in Leeds and organising my next placement…

Local Internship Programme

My Year at Unilever: Eoghan Bowe, Supply Chain IP

What made you choose Unilever?

My experience has been on a summer placement in the operations team of the Leeds Deodorants Sourcing Unit. I originally chose Unilever due its outstanding and expansive portfolio of leading brands, excellent global reputation and renowned graduate scheme.

Has it been how you expected it to be?

Moving into an operations role was a particularly eye opening experience. I soon realised where the ‘Fast’ comes from in FMCG, learning quickly how important production line efficiency, quality control and customer service really is.

What did you do?

The role entailed a 12 week project based on improving the management and storage of ‘changeparts’ – literally mechanical parts of the line that require changing when the line switches from one product to another. My job was to increase the efficiency of the changeover by assessing the current changepart storage system. By reducing the time for changeover, line efficiency is increased and production can run for longer.

How has the Programme changed you?

What was most interesting for me was reviewing how new products were landed in the factory: my project was heavily influenced by innovations entering the factory and requiring new changeparts and therefore storage.

What have you enjoyed most?

Working with such a range of people; from line operators, engineers, contractors, to innovation teams and senior management. For example, line operators were particularly important as they completed every changeover and understood the current issues on their relevant line. They gave me a great insight into the process.

How has it stretched you?

One of the major key challenges was obtaining agreement from all stakeholders on how changeparts can be stored, as there can be many different solutions. One major difficulty was that although storing the relevant parts on the line was the best time saving solution, there was major difficulty finding enough storage space to do so.

Has anything surprised you about it?

One major point that resonates for me was how important an ‘end to end’ supply chain is. All parts must be running well – for example if a supply of raw materials is delivered late to site, a production line’s running order must be changed quickly in order to ensure the line is not stopped.

What were the people like?

Excellent. I found everyone very helpful and approachable. The factory was also great socially, with opportunities to take part in 5 a side football and cycling club.

What have you learned? How quickly have you learned?

The key point I learnt was how vital it is to build up an excellent network of contacts within your chosen area efficiently and quickly.

What are you doing now?

I have recently completed my degree in Chemical Engineering MEng from Bath, and am very excited to be joining the Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP) in September as part of Supply Chain Management.

How are you putting into practice what you learned on the Programme?

My time at Unilever has also improved my presentation, communication skills and my overall confidence.

How international has your experience been?

I contacted deodorants sites as far afield as Australia and Brazil in order to see how they currently managed their changepart storage!

How are you managing to balance your work and life?

Generally, my placements at Unilever were very sociable and benefited from a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude. I attended many enjoyable away days, dinners and even went go-karting with my work colleagues.

Supply Chain

Supply Chain Summer & Industrial Placement Roles

Below are examples of typical placements that are currently on offer. Within placements there is always scope to learn additional topics or get involved in additional work alongside your key deliverables. In each placement the tasks and responsibilities can evolve rapidly and you will gain a real understanding of what it means to be a world leader in fast moving consumer goods.

In all of our placements you will get all the support you need to learn quickly and add value to your team. We view these placements as a chance for students to extend what they have learned at University and show what they can apply into a world class business. Above all Unilever values people with the drive to take the opportunities to develop themselves and grow both their knowledge and leadership skills.

Types of Placements on Offer

 Innovation Support, Leeds

About the site: Leeds is a world class personal care factory that produces both aerosol and roll-on deodorants for global markets. These include exciting brands including; Lynx, Sure and Dove.

Your role: This role may include the technical implementation of new products, production processes and materials. Bridging the gaps between research, planning and manufacturing you will get the chance to support and lead on changes to our factory on an on-going basis across a range of new innovations.

Benefits:This placement will make use of your technical knowledge in a rapidly moving environment, with real world demands and deadlines.

Expect to be heavily involved in landing exciting new innovations in the factory by liaising with  key stakeholders from Senior management, innovation teams and line operations, whilst gaining responsibility throughout.

For other opportunities at the Unilever Leeds site please contact the Local factory directly.

Engineering/Process Improvements, Purfleet (East London)

About the site: Purfleet is a large spreads and dressings factory, producing brands from Flora, I Can’t Believe its Not Butter to Hellman’s Mayonnaise.

Your Role: This role involves understanding the process and implementing process improvements to offer combined benefits of better products at value whilst keeping a constant bias to seek out opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our products. It may involve aspects of manufacturing philosophies and training, such as TPM, or more complex process technology improvements.

Benefits:  The Purfleet placement will stretch your technical knowledge whilst giving you exposure to the changes and implementation of new production methods in a leading factory that supplies products across the region. Expect to be heavily involved in leading others through this whilst liaising with technology teams and gaining responsibility throughout.

Line Improvement, Trafford Park (Manchester)

About the site: Trafford Park is located near Manchester and is the home of PG Tips and Lyons Tea, producing the unique pyramid tea bag.

Your role: Your placement here would involve working with project leaders to develop line improvements within the factory. Depending on the opportunities available and your capability to deliver this may involve tasks as varied as equipment changes, considering leading edge production management techniques and even staff training. Due to the nature of the work this is a placement for those students with an Engineering based degree.

Benefits:  The Trafford park placement offers an invaluable chance for you to apply your engineering degree in a real, working environment. You may also get the chance to visit other factories to see what measures they have implemented to give world class production performance.

Environmental Impact Reduction, Loss Downtime Reduction and Planning, Port Sunlight (near Liverpool)

About the site: Port Sunlight is located on the Wirral and is the original site of Lever Brothers, the company that later merged to form Unilever. Originally the site produced Sunlight Soap but it is now the home of Persil.

Your role: Your placement here would involve working to reduce the environmental impact of the factory, help reduce downtime and aid factory planners. Depending on the opportunities available and your capability to deliver this again may involve tasks as varied as equipment changes, considering leading edge production management techniques and even staff training. Unilever is currently trying to double the size of the business whilst maintaining its environmental impact and therefore environmental impact is high on the company agenda. We are currently leading edge for trying to grow our business whilst also reducing our environmental impact.

Benefits:  You will have the chance to work in a real environment where your input can really make a difference. Unilever highly values any input you provide and you, as a placement student, can make real changes to how processes work within the factories. You may also get the chance to visit other factories to see what measures they have implemented.

Total Preventative Maintenance, Burton (near Birmingham)

About the site: Burton factory produces both Marmite and Bovril in both the glass, and new squeezy formats.

Your role:   The placement involves working to improve the performance of the Burton factory through Total Preventative Maintenance, one of the leading production management techniques imported from the Japanese systems. By learning about TPM you will be able to work on ensuring the processes and methodology are used throughout the factory, even possibly giving training to staff in areas where TPM is not being correctly followed.

 Benefits:  Working at Burton gives you can excellent opportunity to see the ways in which Unilever factories are trying to develop to improve output and efficiency rates. You will be able to develop invaluable people skills, build on your current knowledge base and possibly even give training to other members of staff. You may also get the chance to visit other leading TPM factories to learn from their experiences.

 Total Preventative Maintenance and Lean Manufacturing, Slough (near London)

About the site:  The factory in Slough, which is a new acquisition for Unilever, produces a large range of Sara Lee personal care products.

Your role:   The role involves working to improve the performance of the Slough factory through Total Preventative Maintenance, one of the leading production management techniques imported from the Japanese systems, and Lean Manufacturing, another leading edge manufacturing technique. By learning about TPM and Lean Manufacturing you will be able to work on ensuring the processes and methodology are used throughout the factory, and hopefully see the benefits of using these techniques.

Benefits:  Working at Slough offers an excellent opportunity to see how the newly acquired factory is being integrated into Unilever. You can again make a real impact by coming up with new innovative ways to solve problems and issues within the factory using TPM and Lean Manufacturing. You will be able to develop invaluable people skills, build on your current knowledge base and possibly even give training to other members of staff. You may also get the chance to visit other leading TPM and Lean Manufacturing factories to learn from their experiences and take ideas back to Slough.

Environmental Impact Reduction, Norwich

About the site: Norwich produces Unilever’s range of Colman’s sauces and condiments, alongside several other products. The site also has a resident pair of Eddie Stobart spotters that can be found at the factory gates on regular occasions.

Your role: Your placement here would involve working to reduce the environmental impact of the factory through reducing waste, improving efficiencies and possibly even developing new process that reduce the environmental impact of the factory. Depending on the opportunities available and your capability to deliver this may involve tasks as varied as equipment changes, staff training and process improvements. Unilever is currently trying to double the size of the business whilst maintaining its environmental impact and therefore environmental impact is high on the company agenda. We are currently leading edge for trying to grow our business whilst also reducing our environmental impact.

Benefits:  You will have the chance to work in a real environment where your input can really make a difference. Unilever highly values any input you provide and you, as a placement student, can make real changes to how processes work within the factories. You may also get the chance to visit other factories to see what measures they have implemented to reduce environmental impact.

Planning, Leatherhead

About the site: Leatherhead is the Unilever head office and is where many of the various functions within the company are based. There are large amounts teams based here including; customer service, finance and planning. The site itself has a company gym and a free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Bar.

Your role: You will get to work within a close-knit team, working to plan when products should be made and distributed across the UK.  You work closely with marketing, brand development and customer service teams to get popular products on shelves.

Benefits: The main benefit of this role is that you work with many other functions, allowing you to get an excellent overview of the business. The role helps you develop many skills, from utilising your analytical skills to balance customer orders and stock holding to working with marketing to get a new product to market. There may even be opportunities to visit factories and see where the products you are looking after are being made.

Global Procurement, Corporate Headquarters – 100VE, London

About the site: 100VE is the Unilever corporate headquarters and home of the global procurement teams.

You role: Whether it is sourcing bulk agricultural commodities where Unilever is the main global user, or specialist active ingredients that give our products that something special – you will work closely with our suppliers and product teams to find optimal solutions. You will be expected oversee and complete detailed analysis (good knowledge of Excel would beneficial) and benchmarking exercises, whilst also inputting into key procurement projects. You will also be considering business cases, available technology and improvements in materials across an entire category of products which are used over 2 Billion times a day all over the world.

Benefits: With varying size and scale of commodities, from bulk agricultural to specialist packaging materials, with considerations from cost, product quality and environmental sustainability of our products there is lots of opportunity to make a real business impact.

Research & Development

Research & Development: Jon – My first month with…

Hi all!

This is my first blog and I hope you find it useful and a little bit interesting. I graduated in July 2010 with a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Manchester. I successfully applied for the R&D business area and joined the Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP) in September 2011.  Some of you are probably wondering what I did for the year in between. I didn’t manage to travel the world, but I actually got a job working as a contractor for Unilever in R&D at their Port Sunlight site. I really enjoyed working for Unilever and it confirmed to me that I had to apply for the graduate programme – fortunately my application was successful! So my time with Unilever has actually totalled a year now, but in this blog I am going to focus on my first month on the UFLP.

The first week for everyone on the graduate scheme was an induction week in London. This was a great week, where I was able to speak to all of my new colleagues and made a lot of new friends. The week involved lots of team building activities and I found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. At the end of the week, all of the new R&D graduates travelled to our Colworth site and had an introduction to making ice cream – lots of ice cream tasting which was great fun!

After the induction week I started my first placement at our Leeds R&D site. I have a cool flat in Leeds, which I share with two guys who are also on the graduate programme. Leeds is a great site and it’s a really good city to live in too. I work in Global Deodorants and my role involves working across the category for our three leading brands, Axe, Dove & Rexona. In my first few days, I had detailed training to learn the fundamentals of the science of deodorants – I now know a huge amount of information about why, when, where and how people sweat!

My project is focussed on identifying new fragrance technology propositions. Fragrance is crucial in deodorants and the technology involved is very interesting – something I didn’t have an appreciation for previously. The graduate programme gives unbelievable opportunities and responsibility straight away. The scope of my work is colossal, it could (and hopefully will) have an impact in every single deodorant product in the Unilever portfolio.

I have learnt so much in my first few weeks. Not just about deodorants, but so much about project management and business skills. My role not only involves drawing on the expertise surrounding me, but I must communicate with supply chain and marketing. In R&D you are involved with so many aspects of the business.

Good luck if you apply & perhaps I will see you at induction week next year!