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My UIIP Experience: Cinzia Corroppoli, Marketing IP

Hello,

I am Cinzia and I am a Brand Development Intern in the Unilever Marketing & Innovation Hub in Rotterdam, Weena. I am Italian and I graduated this year in International Management at Bocconi University. I joined Unilever in March after another internship in Amsterdam and, after almost a year in the Netherlands, I can definitely say this a great country to live in!

I always wanted to join a global firm where it is possible to touch the lives of millions of consumers through amazing products and brands while working in an international office environment. At the same time, I was looking for an organization committed to sustainability. This is why Unilever has always been a dream for me and I was thrilled when I knew I was going to take part to the Unilever International Internship Program in the European HQ!

I currently work in the Baking, Cooking and Spreads company on several expert baking margarine brands. Margarine is one of the oldest Unilever categories and it is fascinating to work on brands with such a strong heritage. During my internship, I worked on several digital marketing projects as a digital campaign to support the launch of our new product in the UK market and the launch of a new website for the brand. Every day I deal with agencies, programmers and local teams and no two days are the same.

You might still be wondering if Unilever is the right company for your internship. Is FMCG the best industry for me? What my roles and responsibilities would exactly be as intern? How does the office atmosphere look like? Based on my experience, I can say that if you wish to work in a challenging, fast-paced, international environment, the UIIP will exceed your expectations. As an intern you will take part in big projects and the support of your manager and your colleagues will help you improve your Marketing skills while contributing to your personal development. On top of everything, you will have the chance to meet amazing interns coming from all over Europe that will immediately become your family (the so-called ‘Unilever family’ J).

But let me tell you more about our adventures as interns in the next post.

Stay tuned!

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Country: Mexico.
City/village: Mexico City.


Unilever HOLANDA Icecream Factory. Programmes

Production Planning – Catherine’s Experience

Catherine

I have two signs above my desk. The first reads: “Do not feed the monkey”. In my defense, the reputation is a bit unfair; at one stage my colleagues were on various diets and so I nobly kept taking cake hits for the team.

The second says: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.

Six months ago I became a factory Production Planner in East London, working in the largest margarine factory in the world. (Thankfully tasting sessions are not mandatory!) Working in Supply Chain is brilliant for putting you at the real heart of everything; without a Supply Chain that delivers quality products on budget and to time, sales or marketing teams are of little use. I like the way it sees things from start to finish, from raw ingredients to a finished glossy jar or tub sitting on a Tesco shelf.

The production planner is the interface between the larger planning structure, with people looking at the markets and demand, and internal colleagues that physically operate the machines and order the hundreds of litres of lemon juice. Trying to please both sides is a constant balancing act which makes each day different and brings you into contact with a whole bunch of characters that each have their own (sometimes conflicting!) work aims.

Factories have a very different function to offices: they are the cost centres, taking ingredients and transforming them into saleable products which the offices then make and sell at a profit. As such, factory life is pretty gritty: words are very black and white (and sometimes blue) and crises are quantified in tons and hours. When you’re making over 20,000 jars of mayonnaise a day, a small problem can soon result in a large, very oily mess.

The factory I work in, besides making margarine, also has one line dedicated to the production of mayonnaise and this is my baby! In short, I receive the demand from the countries for each of the 24 products and work out how we’re going to best use the line to keep the necessary stock levels of each product, whilst juggling promotions (unusually high demand), maintenance slots (when production time is lost to technical work) and other sometimes unexpected events. I also book roughly forty DHL lorries a week to take these products to four different European countries.

It’s all about problem-solving, thinking on your feet, and building relationships with a range of very different people to gain the knowledge and exert the influence you need to have in order to make your line as efficient as possible to maintain customer service and inventory levels. Keeping up with West Ham’s fortunes has proved essential.

In September, I knew absolutely nothing about the technical world of food production. I’d just graduated in History – and so it’s been a case of being dropped in the deep end (with great support) and tackling a very steep learning curve! But it’s been a thoroughly fun one, and I can see that it’s stood me in good stead for future Supply Chain roles. And if you’ve ever fancied modelling a blue boiler suit, this job is definitely for you.

UnileverU Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Unilever UK & Ireland Locations

One of the questions we get asked most on our Facebook page is “Where will I be based?” and also “Can you guarantee my location?”. This post will hopefully answer all your location questions!

So, where might you be based? The UFLP is a geographically flexible scheme – meaning you move around for placements, making sure you get the best experience possible, working with lots of different teams and in different situations. Each function is slightly different, with different key sites where you’ll be working. You are supported by Unilever to move house each placement move 🙂

Industrial and Summer placements will have one location (usually) for the whole duration – and this will be confirmed when you are assigned a role. We don’t usually guarantee locations for anyone applying to the UFLP or Industrial and Summer Placement schemes.

Business & Technology Management (my function)

In BTM, you’re most likely to be working in:
– St. Davids Park (North Wales) – when working here grads tend to live in Chester or Liverpool. This site is closing and moving to Port Sunlight at the end of 2014, so you’re less likely to work here as more people move over to…
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – again, working here people tend to live in Chester or Liverpool.
– Kingston (London) – our newly refurbished services centre, Kingston office is based right in Kingston town centre – trainees tend to live in Clapham or Wimbledon (or anywhere else in London) to work here.
– Those are the 3 most likely sites, but you can also do stints at Blackfriars (100VE), Leatherhead and Colworth. You do an out of function placement, and for that you will be based at a site for the relevant function.

Customer Management (Sales) and Marketing 

Customer Management & Marketing are mostly London-based placements. It’s quite rare that you’d be based at other offices right now. You’re most likely to be in:
– Leatherhead (Surrey) – Our UK Headquarters, where we have an awesome Ben & Jerry’s Bar. Most grads tend to live in Clapham or Wimbledon and commute out.
– Blackfriars (London) – 1 of our 2 Global Headquarters (the other one is in Rotterdam, NL) . Again, most people live in Clapham or Wimbledon, mostly so they don’t have to move house when moving between the two!
You could also be based at our Tigi or Ben & Jerrys HQs, which are also in London.

In Customer Management (Sales), there is also an opportunity to be based in Dublin (Our Irish HQ) for your 2nd Placement.

R&D

Research & Development are mostly based at our Research & Development sites. You’re also likely to do an out-of-function placement in Supply Chain, CD or Marketing, which will most likely be based in Leatherhead or Blackfriars.
– Leeds – We have an R&D site for Deos up in Leeds – most grads tend to live in Leeds itself.
– Colworth (Bedford) – Our Colworth site is where a lot of ice cream and tea is developed – most grads tend to live in Bedford
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – Our Liverpool site is where a lot of personal care and home care research goes on. Most grads tend to live in Liverpool or Chester.

Supply Chain

In Supply Chain, you tend to do 4 placements – a planning role and a customer service role – usually both based at Leatherhead (or maybe Leeds), and then a project role and a factory shift management role – these roles could be based across the UK – the factories where you’re most likely to be based are:

– Norwich – The home of Colman’s mustard!
– Gloucester – Where you can taste the most delicious ice cream straight off the production line!
– Seacroft (Leeds) – Where the infamous Lynx is made, along with all of our other aerosols.
– Port Sunlight (Liverpool-ish) – Our Laundry Factories are all based on at Port Sunlight – most grads tend to live in Liverpool or Chester.
You could also be based at Crumlin, Purfleet, Slough, Doncaster, Burton, Trafford Park or Warrington.

Finance & HR

Financial Management and Human Resources Management trainees could be based pretty much at any of our sites! You tend to support different teams to get a breadth of experience. You will usually do at least one placement at Leatherhead or Blackfriars in both Finance and HR, and then you might go to any of our offices (the R&D sites, plus Kingston, Dublin and the TIGI & Ben & Jerrys HQs in London),  or any of our factories (see the supply chain list).

This list hopefully helps you to understand a bit more about where you’re likely to be based when working in the UK & Ireland – it’s not exhaustative unfortunately  but the majority of sites are mentioned above! Many of our schemes offer international placements when you could be based anywhere from Durban to Singapore to Sao Paulo. As a grad, you get used to going where you’re told as you know a really exciting placement is waiting for you there – and usually there will be at least a few other grads placed in the same location.

Let us know if you have any other questions – the best place to ask is on Facebook or Twitter!

Finance

The world of Spreads and Dressings

Afternoon all,

Here goes the first of my weekly blogs’ giving in an insight into the world of global category finance in Unilever’s biggest multi-billion pound category, Spreads and Dressings.

For finance the first week or two of any month is always (at least usually) the busiest given everyone wants to know just how well did we perform in the month and where are we against our targets.

Finance plays an important support role here to many areas, the calculation and presentation of global results being a significant part of the role. That is why the vast majority of my week has been doing just that, letting people know what we achieved, what we missed, and what can we do to improve our current position.

The department I have moved into has undergone several changes since starting and as the directors and senior managers get more comfortable in their positions, they get a clearer idea of the information they want, and how they would like to see it. Although it still feel’s I have only been in the role for 2 minutes given the pace of work and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) consuming weeks of my time (and stress levels) a significant part of my time here, has been providing this new required critical information.

Some areas was to redesign the way we extract and distribute our results, whereas some tasks has been to construct from scratch, new approaches to new information, vital for senior management to decipher where we are tracking against our full year targets and is our strategy working.

A lot of people’s personal targets are set on how we are performing so understandably, everyone is eager to find out as soon as possible, and in an easy way, just how we are doing, that is where I have hopefully been adding some value……

Within the last week I have sent out to both our local and global teams our profit and loss results, ratio analysis on our advertising spend and tracking on our current market share performance (as a start). Fortunately, all new reports have had some positive and constructive feedback so far! Fingers crossed no errors!

I am still getting used to having to understand and report on global data as geography was never my strong point, and still forget to not expect a reply from New York if sending them an email at 9:00am, can’t imagine they will be online at 4:00am their time!

Luckily for me I have a few days off now so I will have to let my inbox fill up for a short while, but after a busy week I am looking for to some time away from the office.

Only 5 weeks to go till exam results……….

Luke

Finance

Luke Hughes First Blog

Hi all,

Below is a brief intro into the early stages of my career in finance in Unilever, starting from confused undergraduate to almost fully qualified accountant…..almost…

I graduated from Plymouth university in the summer of 2009 studying Accounting and Finance over a 4 year sandwich course, where for 18 months I worked for the oil giant, Chevron. I was always fairly clear in my head I wanted to work within finance in some means or another with the ultimate aim of being chartered but until I began looking at real world jobs, I never knew how much was out there.

As I looked into the best jobs available (avoiding the banking sector) I began simultaneously applying for graduate scheme jobs whilst planning a round the world trip. Unilever was my first choice of companies and as I began progressing through the lengthy but well organised application process I began to get increasingly excited of the prospect of working for such a big company on such a widely renowned scheme. I was fortunate to be offered a role in September 2009 which I snapped up immediately.

This meant I was unable to undertake my round the world trip through my own choice of not deferring entry since I was eager to start ASAP, instead I saw the sights of the west coast of America before joining the real world of working full time.

My first role was based in our NIO (National Information Office) and was, to sum it up, the provision of total business results for the UK and Ireland to aid the decision making process for our directors and Chairman. It was quite daunting at first, not just by the fact we lost two team members early on putting a lot of pressure and long hours on, but sending across your own analysis and spreadsheets to the guys who run the entire arm of the business fills you with nerves.

As my abilities grew in the role as did my confidence and I undertook a major overhaul of our complete results booklet from discussions with our financial director. After many long nights, shouting at excel, I was able to leave the department having a left a stamp on my time there. As a means of appreciation, myself and a couple of my line managers were treated to dinner with the FD, which was both really insightful, and brought home the fact even the most senior guys appreciate some hard work and results. Although a tough role, it quickly brought me up to speed with my understanding of both finance and Unilever.

I was next posted in our factory for the iconic brands of Marmite and Bovril, in Burton. Although at first I was weary of a move to an area I knew no one or nothing about, I was please to join a great team and have a completely new and completely different experience to before. It was a role where you really are helping the factory continue running, which helps show you just how integral your input is. Thanks to the rotational style scheme, I was quickly gaining a great breadth of experience and getting great insights into areas (such as supply chain) that I would never have first thought possible.

I am now based in a global category team for our major products of Spreads and Dressings, and have been here since March. Again, a dramatic difference to the previous roles, where I now work with numbers far bigger than I realised I could count to, and dealing with people in countries I still struggle to find on a map. The role is quickly making me aware of just how big this global company is and giving great insight to how some of its products are strategically run. As it is still early days for me in this department, watch this space for updates on tasks I am currently running while I am hopefully coming towards the end of my training and exams.

To date I would have to say my best experiences have been some of the interactions with very senior management and directors in the early stages of my job, right down to the interaction with process operators in a factory whilst in full overalls, helping to improve their job. You genuinely are pushed to the max of your abilities at time, and obviously there are stressful long hours at times, balancing a full time job and exams, but generally you work with great teams doing some genuinely interesting tasks, and before you know it you’ll be qualified… fingers crossed.

Luke

 

Research & Development

R&D Away Day

Hello!

I hope you’re all well? Last week was another important week for the team. Our Senior Vice President who looks after hair globally across all brands came to visit, so we have been busy preparing for this. I really like working in the global team precisely because of the great exposure you get to senior leaders. I presented the project I have been working on which went well. I hope we manage to get his support to launch the project globally.

On Friday I was out of the office for an R&D away day. These are where grads from all years come together in one site and learn about a specific area of the business. It is great to catch up with them and learn from their experiences as between us we’ve worked in most of the areas in the business.

This day was focused on the spreads and dressings category which was very useful for me as this is not a category I have worked in. We had talks from people in the category, including a nutritionist (it was excellent to learn we had opportunities like that in R&D). We also did some tasting of different spreads and learnt how different countries have different expectations. We then put this learning into action by baking with different products and seeing the differences. We finished with a tour of the impressive Leatherhead site.

Overall it was a fantastic day. I learned a lot from it and met some great people who will be useful contacts in the future.

Lisa