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!

Liam Nutting profile Research & Development

One year into life as a R&D UFLP: Liam…

I graduated from University of Bath with a BSC in Chemistry with Management in 2014 and I am currently a 2nd year R&D UFLP. I enjoy going skiing, watching rugby and I’m quite a foody so I like getting stuck in in the kitchen and trying out new recipes. I am currently in my out of function placement in a Digital role where I am looking at how we can use technology to aid and improve the innovation process, I got onto the UFLP following an R&D industrial placement year (which we’ve now stopped doing) where I worked in the Laundry Liquid category based in Port Sunlight, throughout this placement I was given a great opportunity to not just get stuck into my day to day work but also to see the wider business and it was from this point I knew that Unilever, the work culture and the ways of working was something that matched with me and I was very keen to get onto the UFLP.

Read more “One year into life as a R&D UFLP: Liam Nutting”

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.

Laura 1 Business areas

Introducing Category Management: Laura Jenkinson, Customer Development SP

Hello, my name is Laura and I am currently on my summer placement as a Category Executive for the hair team. When I applied to the Customer Development summer placement I had no idea what category management was – or that the role even existed! However, 7 weeks into my placement I have already given an induction on the category to a key retailer and made recommendations on how they can improve their performance.

Laura 2

Working in category management my team are in charge of overseeing the whole hair category, looking at how the market is performing and working with individual retailers to help them grow the category and meet customer needs. The category team support both the brand teams with how their products fit and are performing within the category and customer teams in order to build relations with retailers.

It is key to our role to ensure we look at the whole category as well as Unilever brands. For Unilever the hair category includes TRESemme, Dove, Vo5, Alberto Balsam and Toni & Guy. Part of my role has involved having inductions with all of the brand teams who look after these in order to understand their products and how they sit within retailers. Hair is a particularly exciting category to be involved in as there are always new products coming to market! One task I recently completed was looking at new products for 2015 across the whole category to see who has performed well and what has been a success. The information I provided on this was then fed back to the Unilever Leadership team.

In my category role I have had the opportunity to work on projects both internally and externally. For instance, internally, I completed a piece of work analysing product exclusives to see if this is something that the brand teams should consider pursuing. Externally, I created a styling update for a retailer so they could track the progress of brands this year. As placement students we are given real responsibility – I know the tasks I carry out are having an impact on important decisions!

I have had the opportunity to learn so much whilst I have been on my summer placement and I am sure that this learning will continue in my final weeks! Even though I knew very little (almost nothing) about category management before I started, I have received proficient training and guidance so that I now feel integrated into and a key member of the team.



char 2 Business areas

Event Management Experience: Charlotte, Marketing SP

Hi Everyone,

I’m Charlotte from Exeter Uni and sadly my summer placement at Leatherhead is almost over. I’ve been working in the ice cream marketing team on Cornetto which has been amazing and I can’t believe how much I have learnt in such a short time! Everyone has been so supportive and I was made to feel welcome and part of the team from day one.

As Unilever operates in the FMCG sector I was attracted by the fact that our products are in 9 out of every 10 UK homes, so I’d be exposed to so many brands I use every day! I didn’t have any previous marketing experience and was excited to be given the opportunity to help organise and attend lots of cool events. They say every picture paints a thousand words, so I thought you might like to see some of the things I’ve been up to over the past 11 weeks…

I travelled to Birmingham to an after prom party with Rixton. The Twitter competition winner said the party was ‘the best night of her life’. It was interesting to see how a brand deals with an artist through PR and the legal side of organising an event for under 18s.

char 1

I helped organise ‘Cornetto Beyond The Screen’ an experiential at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford where we had a pop-up cinema for a month. It included an immersive theatre surprise for consumers where the actors appeared from behind the big screen after the film to act out further scenes in a secret room. One day Tom Daley popped in with his friends which was a great picture to post on Twitter!

char 2


Once a month the ice cream team have a meeting where sales and performance of our products are discussed with the customer account managers (CAMs). We had a trip to the SNOG bus on the South Bank, visited the Magnum Pleasure Store in Covent Garden and finished the day off by going through Cornetto’s unique experiential!

char 3

London Zoo was the venue for the ice cream brand cascade, where each brand presents how their year has gone and then introduces all the new products for next year to CAMs and our agencies. I helped out by setting up the room with props, pull up banners and handing out the products for the audience to sample throughout the presentations. At the end of the day we had time to explore the zoo!


I had the opportunity to ‘hawk’ at Thorpe Park, suitably dressed in a promotional t-shirt, selling Cornettos to excited consumers enjoying a day out. After a successful day of sales we had some down time to experience the rides!

char 4

I’ve visited PR companies and media agencies, liaised with designers and printers to create vouchers, leaflets, posters and props for events and not forgetting sampling lots of ice-cream. My placement has been challenging with long hours and tight turnarounds but I’ve loved every minute of it and really hope once I’ve finished my business degree I go from uni-leaver to Unilever!

Tom 1 Business & Technology Management (BTM)

My First 6 Weeks in BTM: Tom Heywood, SP

Hi everyone, I’m Tom and I am currently doing a summer placement in BTM.

It was only on my induction day that I found out just how broad the roles within BTM actually were. I was going to be working in Consumer IT, the worry about my ineptitude at coding set in! What had I done? I haven’t done IT since GCSE!

My first day however quickly alleviated my fears with my line manager explaining what the role of IT within BTM actually is. Consumer IT requires you to be a problem solver, partnering with brands globally to manage projects and develop solutions to allow the business to grow in a changing marketplace (not the coding and software development I had feared!!!).

My role is within the global sustainability and traceability team under the wide reaching umbrella of Consumer IT.  Partnering with technology providers like Vodafone to deliver IT innovation to the business and the brands.


Networking was one of the most important tasks of my first weeks, meeting the team and other employees from across from the business helped me quickly learn about the company’s culture. The friendly ‘Unilever people’ speed the settling in process but it was the wave of immediate responsibility that makes you feel part of the business. One of the truly unique aspects of working within BTM is how cross functional your work is. Project management is a huge part of your role as you deliver projects for all areas of the business whether it be the digital team developing websites, or traceability projects for supply chain and brands. You are given huge exposure to all areas of the business.

I thought I’d talk about one of my projects at this point, the one I have chosen is not the one I spend the most time on, but it is one that I feel completely sums up Unilever as a business and has allowed me to truly live the USLP. This was a key project in my first couple of weeks and was my first experience of responsibility. The project is working with foodbanks in the UK partnering with external strategic business partners to bring together a technology platform of relationship management tools to enable them to meet the growing demand. As well as providing them with business training, organising volunteering events and managing the process.

This is not the project I am working on that is developing business radical growth through revolutionary IT innovation like my other projects. This for me is the beauty of Unilever not only are you encouraged to think differently in order to innovate business growth but you are also provided with projects and time to drive positive social change. The sustainability team is now an increasing driver of business growth, the continued acceleration towards truly sustainable business is an exciting area to be part of. Unilever remains at the forefront of sustainable business practice amongst FMCG’s and being part of this area has allowed me to see where it is going.

The First 6 weeks have gone fast! Working on challenging projects has allowed me to gain valuable experience in the corporate environment and gain that all important commercial awareness. From just a few months ago as a Geography student, talking about the theories of sustainability and sustainable development; to having the opportunity to be involved in the application of these theories has been unbelievably exciting and rewarding in equal measure!

Now into my final few weeks the time is upon me to start the handover process of my projects and beginning the self-evaluation process for which special time with my manager is set aside. What I wanted from my placement at Unilever was to develop my skills as well as gaining an understanding of the corporate world and Unilever more specifically. I have had the privilege of working with VP’s across the business and this exposure to senior managers has been a steep learning curve but one I feel has driven a great deal of personal development. Being part of a team who is driving sustainable business development so quickly and positively has been a sense of real personal enjoyment and has justified everyday my decision to work at Unilever.

Eleanor 1 Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in R&D: Eleanor Whitham, SP

Hi everyone,

My name is Eleanor and I am currently a summer placement student in beverages (tea) R&D in Colworth, Bedford.

Like myself before I started, many people are not aware of the wide range of different activities that go on in R&D at Unilever, so I would like to tell you about my first 6 weeks on the job to give you all a quick insight.

I am currently studying biochemistry at Lancaster University, which involves a lot of heavy lab-based work and in depth science. I chose Unilever as I wanted to apply my scientific knowledge whilst developing skills that you don’t get just by completing a degree, such as leadership and business skills. I didn’t know what to expect before starting my placement, as the usual conception about R&D is that it’s a lot of people standing around in a lab all day coming up with new crazy technologies for products.

I am based in the regional deploy centre for beverages (tea). We are responsible for the running and deployment of regional European tea projects, from single flavour changes to a whole new product ranges. This means that we are much more integrated into the business side of things than I expected, working closely alongside marketing and supply chain in particular. I was a bit tentative about being in tea at first – I absolutely hate the stuff! Surprisingly, I have grown to like it over the past few weeks due to experiencing all different products and flavours that I never even knew existed during our in-house tastings.

eleanor 2

Who would have thought there was so much to learn about tea?!

My first few days were pretty hectic – I met a lot of people (and forgot half their names the next day!), and heard a lot of acronyms being thrown about. Seriously guys, if it’s possible to shorten a phrase into an acronym then Unilever WILL do it! It only took me about a week to settle into my environment as everyone was so friendly and welcoming. My line manager gave me a clear set of goals and put me in contact with the right people to help me.

At Unilever, as long as you get on with your work, it’s really up to you how you manage your time. I was given 3 very different projects from packaging analysis to comparing recipes for tea products, so you learn how to prioritise and organise yourself very quickly. My job is predominantly desk-based, which surprised me somewhat, but it’s a refreshing change for me.

I’m now 6 weeks in and I have 6 weeks to go. Time has flown by and before I know it I will be back at university, which will be very strange after being in a full time work routine for 3 months! I know that this placement will help me greatly in the future and I would say that if you’re on the fence about applying, you should definitely go for it! You have nothing to lose and heaps of experience to gain. If you fancy R&D but don’t want to be stuck in a lab all day, then remember that there are lots of different areas and opportunities for you.

rednivaram Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Welcome to India! ಭಾರತ ಸ್ವಾಗತ

rednivaramWelcome to India! ಭಾರತ ಸ್ವಾಗತ (Kannada) இந்தியா வரவேற்பு (Tamil) भारत में आपका स्वागत है (Hindi)

Welcome to the second most populated country in the world, potentially the country with the most alphabets in the universe, and one of Unilever’s biggest growth markets. Starting my 5th placement in Bangalore has truly been a whirlwind, and a real eye opener. India is nothing like I expected it to be. Hopefully I’ll dispel a couple of myths for you now:

1. Everyone in India speaks English & Hindi. I’m not sure about you, but I thought pretty much everyone in India spoke English. Yet here I am in the most westernized city in India, and the majority of people I come face to face with each day outside of the office speak little or no English – it is estimated that around 30% of the population of Bangalore speak Kannada – the local dialect, and another 27% speak Tamil – another dialect that is from the state, but one that is very different to Kannada. 10% speak Hindi, thanks mostly to national businesses based here in Bangalore; that leaves 43% of people speaking other languages, and I imagine less than 1% will have English as their first language, even with the glut of Expats based here. I’m going to make it my mission over the next 6 months to work out how Bangaloreans communicate with each other!

2. India is very dangerous. I don’t think I’ve been told off as much as I have since arriving in Bangalore ever. Told off for not swiping out, told off for walking down an escalator (yes, apparently that is far too dangerous!). Given an hour long safety briefing where I was informed that children should not climb on top of buses to get to school. I’m pretty sure if I decide to walk down the stairs at work and don’t hold the handrail someone will pop around a corner and tell me off, and report me to the safety officer.

There are security guards at my apartment, and every mall you go into you have your bags checked and you can’t walk into a shop without having your shopping taken off you to prevent shoplifting. This results in very safe environments – which is fantastic, but when you’re new to India it does make you wonder if actually all of these security measures are necessary.

3. Indians eat curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually, this one is pretty true; and also a key reason why massive onion price increases are causing a national crisis – there were recently jokes in India that soon Onion Rings would be more valuable than Diamond Rings!

(Thanks to RedNivaram on Flickr for the photo!)

bootsrdvrs-500x281 Customer Management (Sales)

My Summer at Unilever: Anna-Kristine Legg, Customer Development

What made you choose Unilever?

I chose Unilever because it is such a global company with masses of opportunities, but mainly because of its vast portfolio of prestigious brands, that I already value as a consumer such as Sure, Dove, TRESemméand Marmite! Also I felt the company’s corporate values which emphasised taking a wider responsibility for the impacts of the business on people, livelihoods and the environment, was something I admired. Finally, I was excited by the Customer Development programme as it provided a great opportunity to experience and understand how products get onto the shelves, at what prices and how they are presented.

Has it been how you expected it to be?

When people think of a summer placement, they might immediately picture a summer of photocopying and tea making. My placement at Unilever in Customer Development this summer was anything but! The placement started in June for twelve weeks. In comparison to other companies it’s a long placement, but it means you really get to grips with your role and you can get given real responsibility for projects. To top it off, that’s twelve weeks of pay, including holiday too. I worked in the Boots team, specifically on customer marketing. From day one I had a work plan, targets and a full induction programme and was very impressed with how organised my mentor was, I was even given my own laptop! The first two weeks involved absorbing a lot of information, but after individual inductions with members of the Boots team and brands I would be working on, I felt I had grasped the purpose of the business area and what I would be doing. During my first couple of weeks there were a couple of Customer Marketing team days which meant I got to meet lots of people, further enhancing my understanding of the business and I felt like I settled in quickly. I was given a significant amount of responsibility; some of my projects included the launch of a new Impulse body spray exclusively in Boots, this included working with external design agencies to create stylish point of sale materials. I was also responsible for the launch of the new Radox Bath Smoothies. This was interesting as I worked with advertising agencies to design adverts and select magazines for the adverts. My main project was a Dove Masterbrand promotion which included organising demos, magazine advertising, working with PR agencies to promote on Facebook and competition ideas to increase sales. Those were some of my in store projects, on top of that I was responsible for the running of; working with the Boots online team to ensure that all Unilever visuals and messaging were correct.

How has the Programme changed you?

Doing a Summer Placement at Unilever has really increased my confidence in new and challenging situations. It has also given me significant insight and experience into the world of business and into the Consumer Goods sector, which in itself is a real boost to my CV. I now have a much clearer idea of where I want my career to go.

What have you enjoyed most?

I was really lucky with my placement in that I got to work closely with the brand teams, but I was in a customer team sobootsrdvrs-500x281 I experienced the sales side of things too. For example, I got to attend a Toni & Guy relaunch meeting at Boots head office which was another great experience. I was based in the Leatherhead office which was a really cool working environment; it had lots of funky breakout areas, free Ben and Jerry’s, a huge free gym and a shop selling cost price Unilever products . This just added to a fantastic experience. I know all the other summer placement students felt really privileged to be based in such a cool office.

How has it stretched you?

As I was given such significant responsibility to deliver my own projects, it was definitely stretching as often there would be meetings which you were expected to lead and update the rest of the team on progress, despite only having been in the business a matter of weeks!

Has anything surprised you about it?

I wasn’t expecting to be treated so much as an equal to the rest of my team. In that way I felt a valuable member of the team, not just a placement student.

What were the people like?

The people were great. Definitely one of the best things about the programme, very like minded, enthusiastic, inspiring and team-focused people.

What have you learned? How quickly have you learned?

I learnt so much from my placement and in a really short period of time. Some of the things included technical skills in terms of managing budgets and forecasting accuracy, how, where and why products are displayed on the shelves in the way they are. How to get an advertisement into a magazine or on the television to who the targeted consumer was for the various brands I worked on. In addition, I gained skills in ways of working, from time management to communicating with customers and appreciating how different people in your team work and adjusting to this accordingly. You really do get real responsibility and have a specific role to play in the company; essentially the amount of responsibility you are given during the placement reflects how quickly you can pick things up. I feel I’ve got a real understanding of how an FMCG works and what works and what doesn’t in the marketplace.

What are you doing now?

Currently I am in my final year at Nottingham University studying Geography, but I am also doing a part-time role as the Unilever Student Campus Manager at Nottingham. In this role, I work with Unilever graduates to promote the Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP) and organise events on campus for students to learn more about Unilever and the opportunities the company offers.

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

I’ve been trying to use some of the skills I acquired over the summer in doing group work on my course and in my role as Unilever’s Student Campus Manager. I now have a better understanding how members of my group prefer to work and being sympathetic to this in order to get the best results. I am also focusing on understanding the type of student Unilever are trying to recruit in order to organise bespoke careers events tailored to attract this certain type of person.

Do you have any anecdotes in particular that illustrates how valuable the Programme has been for you personally?

Early on in my placement, I was fortunate enough to go on a team away day down to Dorset. We undertook a series of group challenges and fun exercises and at the end of the trip, I was chosen as best group leader by the account director. This really gave me confidence in my own ability and also showed that you don’t have to have the most experienced to show a high level of commitment and to motivate people to achieve a goal. I have also built up a series of great contacts and kept in contact with many people in the team I worked in.

How international has your experience been?

I was based in the UK Headquarters in Surrey and was working on a UK retail account so opportunities for travelling abroad were limited. However you are very aware of the global scale of the business and international opportunities available.

Do you get a real feeling that you’re being fast-tracked to management and leadership positions?

As with most things, you get assessed during the placement and if you are successful, then you get fast tracked to the final stage of the graduate recruitment process. There are lots of different summer placement and industrial placement opportunities (for those of you who have a year in industry), but I would highly recommend the summer placement to anybody who is motivated, enthusiastic, keen to learn and gain experience in a global company or insight into the world of consumer goods.

How are you managing to balance your work and life?

Unilever make it really accessible to get a good work life balance. I think that is one of the things I valued most in the company, from flexible time to working from home on certain days. They want to make going to work as enjoyable and easy as possible to get the best results.

(Thanks to R/DV/RS on Flickr for the photo)

Local Internship Programme

My Year at Unilever: Kevin Bartley, R&D IP

Midway through the final interview, I’d already decided Unilever was the place for me. I was immediately drawn in by the diverse and bustling atmosphere; the office had its own spirit, a special one. A mix of exceptionally interesting people, each with unique personalities, experiences and cultures, made settling in easy.

I joined the Hair Processing team at the Global R&D Headquarters in Port Sunlight and my work started with the maintenance, operation and training of colleagues on a filling simulator capable of emulating several technology types currently in use. My initiative, creativity and tenacity were tested as I was initially investigating a range of product types, product pack designs and sizes, levels of automation and filling line speeds and supply chain complexities.

Right from the beginning, I was encouraged to go the extra mile, and to set ambitious but achievable goals. With the support and guidance of some of Unilever’s world leading researchers, I developed methodologies and protocols which enhanced the company’s understanding of product behaviour during filling. The significance of my work far exceeded my expectations; the results of my research will influence future research and the operation of the 200+ Unilever factory filling lines around the world.

Once my main project began to take shape, additional opportunities to prove myself seemed to appear every day and I was never discouraged from challenging the status quo. I never had to wait to be asked or told what to do; the support of my colleagues inspired the self-confidence to know what needed to be done to ensure the results were delivered. I was trusted to work autonomouslyand my contributions were recognised, respected and valued by the team.

My colleagues showed as much interest in my personal development as the project itself. I was involved in various manufacturing and supply chain activities and after gaining sufficient operating experience on a manufacturing pilot rig, I had helped to commission, I led a team of operators during several production trials. Leading a team of much older and more experienced professionals on this trial was tough but rewarding. Through dealing with conflicts appropriately and resolving issues quickly, I learnt how to maintain the overall effectiveness of the team.

Working in Global R&D often involves international travel, meaning that I also had the opportunity to do so. The value that Unilever placed on my skills became apparent when I was asked to travel to Germany and meet with suppliers to discuss bespoke design plans for a major R&D capital investment. Using the knowledge I had gained during my work, I contributed significantly to the final design specifications and observed the exciting results as they unfolded.

Shortly after arriving back in England, yet another development prospect arose. My involvement in a particular production trial and a brief conversation with a visiting project team leader resulted in us visiting Poland to validate the pilot plant results on a factory scale.

Witnessing some of the many stages involved in bringing products to market gave me a deep sense of ownership. My work was relentlessly inspiring, engaging and innovative. The variety of working environments and learning opportunities I was exposed to at Unilever have instilled an invaluable level of confidence and professional competency. My year at Unilever was packed full of experiences and I made some lifelong friends.

Kelvin Bartley