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!”

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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.

Arjun Business areas

My Summer at Unilever: Arjun Mistry, Customer Development SP

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello there my name is Arjun Mistry, I’m currently on the 12 week summer placement in the Customer Development function based in Unilever’s head office in Leatherhead. My full job title is ‘Customer Executive for Out Of Home Ice Cream on The Co-Operative account’ – a bit of a mouthful I know! Basically my main responsibilities are coordinating ice cream sales and promotions across every single Co-Operative store in the UK. This includes liaising with buyers, supply chain specialists and the marketing team and making sure everyone knows what they are doing – communication is key!

What have you enjoyed most?

Working in the fun, dynamic, creative ice cream category during the roasting summer months has been a real treat. One personal highlight have been attending the ice cream brand cascade at London Zoo where we got to see and taste all the unreleased products set to come out in the summer of 2016 – it was great to see new innovations in my category before anyone else. Another highlight was regularly visiting Manchester to conduct meetings with the Co-operative’s ice cream buyer – being able to negotiate and speak in a personable yet persuasive way is one of my strengths so it was great to be able to put this to good use in my time at Unilever. I also had a chance to visit the Walls Pop Up store (see the photo). The key factor that has made this entire experience enjoyable has been the people I work with: the welcoming and friendly company culture that Unilever breeds has made me feel right at home.

What has been the most challenging?

The biggest challenge I encountered was the degree of independence and responsibility that you are trusted with from day one. For example, I was trusted with conveying all the data between our field sales team who work across the UK to the Co-Operative head office in my first week. Although this may sound daunting, the degree of responsibility you are given is beneficial in helping you feel like a valued member of the team and also in your own personal development. You learn a lot through actual project work, including a whole range of transferable business skills.

What advice would you give to someone about to start their placement?

I would say don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to as many people as possible. Everyone in the company has their own specialist knowledge and if you can learn to tap into it, it will undoubtedly benefit you. Also I would recommend that you be as proactive as possible – if you see a project that you believe you could contribute to then get involved! Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Arjun

A photo of a pal at the Walls Ice cream store

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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My First 6 Weeks in Finance: Amelia Swan, SP

Hello – I’m Amelia and I’m on the Finance Summer Placement. I’m going into my final year at Durham in October. Here are my highlights so far, things I’ve learnt and what I’ve been working on…

Some highlights…

  • Free Ben and Jerrys
  • Finance Sports Day (Should have seen me win the bouncy hopper race)
  • Living in London
  • Team away day to the Escape Rooms
  • The view from the rooftop garden at the central London office
  • Discounted Shop (Definitely making the most of it)
  • Lots of freebies!
  • After work drinks and meals out

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Photo of the winning team of our Finance Office Olympic Games (I’m in the middle!).

I honestly had no finance knowledge/experience before I started (I’m studying Biology and Anthropology). This has not mattered at all and I feel like those studying Finance/economics related degrees had no head start at all.

Finance is a very diverse function – I’ve had nothing to do with any accounting in my placement. I’m working in a centralised finance team that provides financial insights to the category teams (i.e. Hair, Skin Care, Tea etc) and to those teams working with the customers (Tesco, Boots etc). It’s interesting seeing the monthly figures behind brands I use all the time and how they perform compared to competitors.

12 weeks seems like ages but means you can get into the role and make a difference. It goes quickly as you’re so busy with a work plan set on day 1. Sounds daunting but it’s cool to be able to get stuck into your own projects and feel useful.

Things I’ve been working on…

  1. Creating a file that compares the shelf price of products against our key competitors which updates every week, in each Customer (Learning to love Excel).
  2. Creating an Information Pack for New Joiners in CD Finance.
  3. Helping with the monthly sales forecasting process.
  4. My ‘Plus 1’ – Arranging a ‘Durham@Unilever’ Afternoon – Entrepreneurs Durham Society are coming to Unilever for an afternoon in September to find out about the company and careers.

So far it’s been challenging, rewarding, fun, and a very steep learning curve! The weeks have flown by and I’m looking forward to what the next 6 weeks will bring.

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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.

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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.

Kingston Business areas

Working in Kingston: Lianna Beesley-Peck, HR SP

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

The Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Virtual and Agile Working

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

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

Living in Kingston

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

Arjun Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in Customer Development: Arjun Mistry,…

Hello all,

My name is Arjun Mistry, and I am six weeks in to my summer placement at the Unilever head office in Leatherhead. I belong in the customer management function – which is where the execution of products lives or dies. Specifically the responsibilities of my role are looking  after all the Ice Cream that goes to The Co-Operative supermarkets.

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As an avid ice cream eater myself, being able to work with well recognised and popular brands such as Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, Vienetta and  Cornetto has been an engaging and interesting experience. Before I started my role, I had no idea about the amount of careful planning and negotiating that goes into all the products you see on supermarket shelves! From the way that products are set out, to the type of promotion, to all the co-ordinated marketing, it was great to learn more about how multi-faceted the FMCG industry is.

Before I had even begun my role, I was contacted by a current graduate at Unilever who put me at ease with all the various questions I had about the company. It was comforting to know that I had someone to talk to about the intricacies and also the simpler queries I had about the role. Then it was on to our induction at a sumptuous hotel in Dorking: all the industrial placements and summer placement students had a chance to meet, socialise outside the office and really get to know each other. This meant that on my first day within the office I already knew a bunch of people which was useful.

When I met my team I was made to feel welcome and we had a nice lunch on the first day. What struck me was how friendly and sociable everyone is – ask anyone for help and they will give it to you. My line manager had a laptop and mobile phone waiting for me and I was able to crack on with getting settled in straight away. Straight away my calendar filled up with meetings and I became immersed in the day to day business activities that gave me hands on experience.

In terms of responsibility, Unilever is like no other employer. I was given a set of projects that I could work through in any way I liked, and by week 4 I was presenting the findings of my project work to the buyer at the Co-Operative headquarters in Manchester! By being given this level of responsibility, it really made me take pride in my work and also meant that I could demonstrate my own effectiveness to my manager. It was great to not be micro managed or having someone constantly breathing down my neck, yet being able to talk openly and honestly with anyone in my team, if necessary.

So I am now just beyond the halfway point of my placement and I can honestly say there has not been a dull moment. I have fully acclimatised to the getting up and doing a working day (something I was nervous about before starting!) and feel very well settled in to my team. In fact, I am dreading the thought of having to leave come September! Some highlights for me have been the regular meetings with the Ice Cream buyer in Manchester; attending brand cascades and trying new flavours of ice cream before they have been released and helping co-ordinate the winter range. Again, I am amazed by how the scope of my own involvement will make a tangible difference to all the Co-Opertaive stores throughout the UK.

Every day is a new challenge, and I hope to learn more and more in my time here. Bring in the next 6 weeks!