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!”

Ollie Supply chain Business areas

Three months into Supply Chain: Oliver Friston, IP

Hi, my name is Ollie and I’m now almost three months in to my yearlong placement at Unilever, working in supply chain. I’ve spent the last three years studying Chemical Engineering at Birmingham University so this year represents a big change for me – both in terms of my daily routine and the material that I am working on!

I was attracted to Supply Chain as I wanted to see the true global scale of the business and in my role I’ve certainly been able to do that. I work in personal care (shampoo, deodorant, body wash, etc.), looking at the global simplification programmes that we have in place. Unilever is currently making a big push to grow the business, whilst reducing unnecessary complexity from things like low performing lines and different packaging and formulation variants. This is a very exciting project to be part of as I can tell that the work I am doing is used at a very high level within the business and is vital to the future of the company.

Despite being a diehard Southerner and originally being a bit daunted by the prospect of moving so far north, I’m very happy to be based at Port Sunlight and living in Liverpool. The office environment is relaxed, friendly and welcoming and the social life with other employees is extremely active (almost like I’m still a student!).

Last week, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to help out at Unilever’s Supply Chain Leadership Forum. This was a two day event where all the top people in Supply Chain got together to share ideas on the successful future of the business. As a reward for helping coordinate the personal care displays at the event, I got the chance to meet some very influential people within the company and enjoy two nights in the five star hotel where the conference was being held! There were lots of presentations by some really interesting people, not least top sports psychiatrist Professor Steve Peters, who has worked with the likes of British Cycling and Liverpool FC, on how to get the most out of your mind. Check out the extremely cheesy photo of me with one of our displays!

Ollie Supply chain

I wanted to do a year in industry to give me experience of the working world and to help me find out what sort of area I wanted to go in to. I’m so glad that I’m spending the year with Unilever as I could tell right from the start that my values really align with the way that work is done here. I’ve got a lot to do, and I’m looking forward to the remainder of my time here, this year and hopefully further on!

 

Harriet 1 Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in Supply Chain: Harriet Hix,…

Hello! My name is Harriet and I am a supply chain summer placement student in my sixth week at Unilever. It is fair to say, working at Unilever has exceeded all expectations. I am based at 100 Victoria Embankment in London which is Unilever’s global head office and seats Paul Polman, our CEO. The office is a hub of Unilever activity with people hot desking, coming and going constantly, each with different accents, nationalities and job titles.

I work on a global team based out of Switzerland called Strategy and Operations. Global teams have a planning and strategic role at Unilever, devising solutions to be rolled out globally to realise Unilever’s longer term goals and aspirations. I joined the project entitled War on Waste, we are a team of six working across three functions – finance, procurement and supply chain. The focus is redefining and enlarging the traditional scope of what we consider as waste and creating solutions to reduce this waste. Our project positively impacts our Sustainable Living Plan as well as contributing savings across the business.

The first week was an intense induction, within the first half an hour of sitting at my desk I was involved in a conference call with a planner working out of the Dubai office. On my second day, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to join my team in Istanbul where my induction continued. I can say with certainty that I learnt more in these two weeks than I thought possible. Climbing this steep learning curve, I was given my project – which I am working hard to complete during my 12 weeks. The project is to create a more fluid and dynamic solution to reduce one of the largest areas of waste. With the constant support of my line manager, I set out the scope and a description of the project in the form of a project proposal and this was sent out to the main stakeholders.

harriet 2

Touring the Ice Cream Factory in Turkey

At this point in my placement, I am at the stage where I am planning the roll out and utilisation of the tool I have designed and created. The tool is an online and interactive database recording and finding solutions to large quantities of business waste. One of the challenges I am facing is how to effectively communicate to all stakeholders, from various parts of the globe, the importance of adopting the changes I am proposing.

I am thoroughly enjoying my placement and I look forward to seeing the project through to completion. The ownership and responsibility you are given is something I did not expect but feel inspired by. The support of my team and greater supply chain function has been encouraging throughout the duration of my placement and even before I started.

When applying for a role at Unilever, I wanted to work on a team that were passionate and valued Unilever’s sustainability agenda and my team have definitely given me this opportunity. Additionally, senior managers have kindly taken the time to meet and explain to me their specific role in reducing Unilever’s environmental impact and positively impacting people’s lives. The passion for sustainable business practice and the interest in the livelihoods of people is an aspect of Unilever that is embedded in every day decision making and the culture. This is something I am proud of and encourages me to continue on my quest to work here when I graduate from University.

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.

money Programmes

On My First Day I was handed a Project…

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’ve just passed the halfway point of my first placement in Supply Chain Management. I’m currently undergoing my project role based at our Trafford Park factory where we make PG Tips, Scottish Blend and Lyons teas. The project placement that you complete on the Supply Chain grad scheme with Unilever varies greatly from placement to placement and can literally involve anything. I have been tasked with five projects each involving different aspects of the factory.

My favourite project is looking for energy saving opportunities to build into a sustainability roadmap for site for the next three years. For this I’ve had to benchmark what has been done so far and organise for an audit to be conducted of site, in which professionals come to take a look around and point out any opportunities they can find. With this information I can then set out any feasible projects to be implemented over 2014-2016. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was developed in 2010 and is looking to reduce our carbon footprint by half by 2020. This project is my contribution to this business strategy. In line with this another project I am managing is the implementation of an energy monitoring system around site. This consists of a number of meters which will allow us to monitor our energy usage more accurately and so highlight any areas for improvement. This project has allowed me great exposure to dealing with suppliers and contractors, as well as understanding the project management process at Trafford Park, which has been a huge learning curve. On my first day at work I was handed this project with a budget of £177,000 – so it’s very true when Unilever say they give you real responsibility from day one!

Alongside these I am conducting a project to benchmark our current infrastructure situation and create an improvement plan for the next three years. Improving issues we have with, for example, roads, walkways and roofs will look to increase our overall safety and quality on site. I am also looking for opportunities to improve the efficiencies on the production lines. This gives me the opportunity to get out on to the shop floor and talk to the operators and unit managers and see the machinery in action.

It is evident from the moment you begin at Unilever that what they say about the support you’re offered on the scheme, the responsibility you are given and the investment the company make in you is true. Although I’ve been thrown in at the deep end in an environment that is completely new to me I’ve been able to find my feet due to the support around me. Everybody that I need help from on site has done so, as well as having support from an external contact manager and my buddy. Some of the work I have done has already been presented to senior leaders within the business and I feel that I have been given the opportunity to make a real difference at Trafford Park. It’s great to know that when I leave I’ll be able to look back and say ‘I did that’.

(Thanks to jamescridland on Flickr for the picture of coins!)

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!

I'll be looking forward to a lot of this on the next placement! Supply Chain

Wrapping Up Placement #1

I'll be looking forward to a lot of this on the next placement!
I’ll be looking forward to a lot of this on the next placement!

Hi again

First things first, I had better apologise as my target of monthly blog entries have had a three month hiatus but never fear I am still here! My only excuse is that I have been very busy in the office since the start of the year. Since I last updated, I have seen a huge uplift in demand for the laundry products which I look after and hence my role has become very busy. It has been a challenging few months, but still very much enjoyable. I have helped out my team by covering the Comfort range now and again,while also keeping an eye on the demand/supply balance of capsules and tablets.

This role has really developed my personal and professional skills a great deal. I have been in constant discussions with the customer-facing teams, the factory, the Unilever Supply Chain , Marketing and other business areas through the course of the placement. Each business area and team has a different view on Unilever and is equally responsible for different business targets, so collaborating with these teams has been a very eye-opening experience.

For all you sustainability followers out there, I thought it would be good to answer a question I received a few weeks back at a graduate dinner – How does the Unilever sustainability agenda influence day-to-day business decisions? The truth of the matter is that sustainability within Unilever is discussed regularly and comes into play in a surprising number of situations. I have heard discussions about critical shipments of materials from the Far East being heavily debated, as the choice between air-freighting and standard shipping has such a high environmental impact.

As of the start of April I will be in my next placement in sunny, fondue eating Switzerland working in procurement within the European Supply Chain company (who own all the stock and factories Unilever operate across Europe). I’m hugely excited to be heading out to Switzerland for 6 months, but equally it will be sad to leave the team here in the UK who have been such a great help in getting me up to speed with the business and the way in which Unilever operates.

Hopefully my next blog will be coming to you from across Europe. In the meantime if you have any supply chain related questions, then please get in touch.

Matt

dhivvvvpatelll Interviews with Senior Leaders

Where the Supply Chain graduate programme can take you

 

Hi, my name is Dhivant Patel and I am the High Street Customer Service Manger at Unilever. I am a Durham University graduate and joined the business on the Unilever Future Leaders Programme four-and-a-half years ago.dhivvvvpatelll

At six month intervals on the two year programme, I was assessed against my peers and the management competencies to ensure I was on track and heading in the right direction. The graduate programme is all about real responsibility from day one and a fast-track to management, so it’s really important to stay close to your manager during this time and learn as much as possible. After passing my final review at the end of my second year at Unilever, I successfully moved into a project manager role in customer service. Unilever creates succession plans for promising and talented employees and it was through succession planning that I got my current role.

Eight months ago I then took over the role of Customer Service Manager. I manage a team of six people and together we work alongside the Unilever customer development teams. Customer development is all about managing and enhancing relationships with our customers – large national retailers, supermarkets, cosmetics stores, wholesalers – and together, we work on the forecasting and supply of products for sale in stores. My team’s aim is to ensure maximum availability of our products on our customers’ shelves, cost efficiently as possible, so a typical week for me involves a good mix of face time with my customers, resolving day-to-day operational issues.

I really enjoy working for Unilever: there are lots of very talented, driven people; I enjoy the fast pace of the consumer goods industry, the variety of challenges of working across different product categories from household and personal care, to foods, and the fact that I’m part of a global company working towards an ambitious strategy of sustainable growth.

You can check out our Supply Chain Management video here.