road Business & Technology Management (BTM)

A 2nd Year UFLP Perspective: Babak Brazell, BTM UFLP

I started on the Business Technology Management (BTM) stream of the Unilever Future Leader’s programme (UFLP) in September 2013. Having finished at the University of Bristol with a Biology degree in 2012, I became aware of BTM while doing an internship at an Innovation consultancy the summer after I finished University. The UFLP seemed like a fantastic learning experience within a company that was really highly regarded, while technology was an area I felt would be growing rapidly in importance within Unilever, and one that would be driving the business forward moving into the future. I’m a living, breathing example that it doesn’t require a technical background or computer science degree to be successful in applying to the BTM. A keen interest in what technology can do for the business is far more important!

BTM is split into a series of 6 month placements, the first of which I spent in 100 Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars, London working in the Sustainable Business Team. The Sustainable Business team is responsible for driving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), which is a fundamental part of Unilever’s compass ambition to double the size of the business while halving the environmental footprint by 2020. Spending time in the team responsible for something so integral to the business gave me some really eye opening experiences and was a great place to start. One specific responsibility was to help in the creation of an online hub called the Sustainable Living Lab for Unilever employee’s across the business. The aim of which was to inform and offer a space for collaboration around Sustainable business. The lab went live in November 2013, and was formally launched at the Change Leaders conference (a conference for the top 400 Unilever members globally). Being responsible for the launch was daunting and exciting at the same time, but ultimately turned out to be a great success.

After finishing in the Sustainable Business team in March, I moved up to Liverpool and am currently based out of Port Sunlight working in the Global Network Services team. The Networks team is responsible for making sure that the data network for all of Unilever’s locations is robust and working. Consequences for problems with the Network can be extremely damaging to the business, as a problem with the network that stops production in a factory can cost a lot over a short period of time. This opportunity has given me a completely different perspective on technology in the business, and I’ve learnt a huge amount during my time here. Next up I’m staying in the Port Sunlight office, but moving into the Chief Technology Office, which is responsible for the long term technology strategy for Unilever. As you can see, one major strength of the BTM scheme is the amount of variation it’s possible to see over the course of the placements. In 18 months I will have seen a really broad scope of the different ways that technology supports Unilever as a whole.

The scheme so far has been challenging and rewarding, with fantastic learning opportunities throughout – highly recommended!

 

 

BTM (2) Business & Technology Management (BTM)

BTM Class of 2013

In BTM we leverage technology to efficiently solve the business challenges faced by Unilever

After Reading these blog entries feel free to leave a comment or question and we’ll get back to you!

 

Laura – UFLP
LauraI joined Unilever on the UFLP Scheme after obtaining my Masters in Computer Science from University College Dublin. This time last year I didn’t really have a clue what I was going to do once I finished my degree. I was in the final few months of a Computer Science course and I had it in my head that I had signed myself up for a life sitting in front of a computer screen staring at reams of code day in, day out. Fair play to people who do this and enjoy it but I was NOT pleased by this prospect, it’s just wasn’t for me.

At a careers fair at my Uni, I was lucky enough to have a chat with a Unilever representative. I had heard of Unilever and had a good idea of what the company did but I had no idea they had a graduate programme which was IT related. The rep explained the programme a bit more to me. It all sounded great and had me pretty much hooked on the idea straight away. After doing a bit more research I found out that it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do, working on IT related projects, learning project management skills by working with others. The best part was: No coding involved! Being from an IT background wasn’t even a requirement. Most people already on the graduate programme were from completely different fields.

The application process programme was pretty tough if I’m being honest. There are a lot of stages and it does require some time and effort but I promise you it’s totally worth it in the end. It can be hard to balance when you’re also dealing with assignments and exams but it’s all over and done with by March and should only take 4-6 weeks in total

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I got the job and I absolutely love it so far. My first placement involves working on a project rolling out Chatter to others in the company. Chatter islike an internal Facebook just for Unilever employers where we can chat and collaborate on projects and ideas. It’s a really great project and I’m learning a huge amount. My friends all used to make fun of me for being a Facebook addict so now I’ve swapped Facebook for a different Social Network. My days are spent working with people from all different functions, in many different countries. I really like the diversity of the job and constantly meeting new people keeps things interesting. I do a lot of training presentations and demos with others in the company so it has been a really great role for building up my network of people in other functions.

As for future placements, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing yet. You change roles every 6 – 9 months while on the graduate scheme so I’ll find out what I’ll be doing next in the coming months. I have a manager who is in charge of my placements so I’ve had a chat with him about what I’d like to do next. There are opportunities to work in lots of different areas including digital marketing, sustainable living, IT across different geographies, services and IT innovation. There are also many opportunities to work abroad. Some people from the year ahead of us have been based in Singapore and India. BTM graduates are also encouraged to do one placement in a different function which is of interest to them. This is a really great opportunity as it gives you a better idea of how the business works as a whole.

So that’s my experience so far. Best of luck with the applications. I hope to see you next year on the BTM Scheme!

David – IP
UntitledI’m David, a student from Lancaster University.  When I was looking for placements, I knew I wanted to work for a company where I would be given real responsibility, challenging assignments, global opportunities and an environment that prioritises individual growth. Unilever has provided that and much more. Working within BTM means that I am surrounded by innovation and can really make a difference to the day-to-day running of Unilever which has been really exciting since day one.

I work within IT innovation which allows me to get involved with a wide variety of different projects. The primary focus of my role is on providing custom-built mobile applications designed to help improve the productivity of employees worldwide. I support the design, testing and deployment of these apps whilst ensuring that the project is running smoothly. With over 100,000 global employees, there is a lot of scope to make a huge difference! My work supports Unilever’s culture that allows employees to work from any location at any time – a concept called agile working. This has given me the opportunity to work closely with multiple suppliers and deliver to senior stakeholders within the business.

BTM doesn’t require you to be a technical person, but you have to be willing to learn and adapt to the constantly changing world of technology. I am involved in multiple projects that are updating Unilever infrastructure to meet the needs of a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). It’s been really interesting to delve into the world of IT Infrastructure and manage solutions to some of the huge problems facing the business. BTM is a really fast-moving and varied function, I urge anyone who’s contemplating applying to go for it – you won’t regret it!

 

George – IP
George-Taylor

I’m George, a Business and Technology Management Industrial Placement student. I chose to apply for Unilever because I was excited to be a part of an innovative, consumer product based global company whose brands and products are seen every day, all around us. I chose to apply for BTM because of the opportunity to work in a constantly changing environment where you’re always looking for better ways to do business through effective use of innovation and technology. I was also attracted by the great opportunities offered by the UFLP, and with Unilever being a global organisation, the potential to work abroad.

 I work in the Supplier Management Team. We manage global contracts between Unilever and our key suppliers of Technology and IT Services. This shapes the way we do business on a huge scale. I love my job because I get to see tangible results of global negotiations that result in millions of pounds worth of savings, and plenty of exposure to some of the biggest projects going on throughout Unilever,. Much of the work I have been involved in during my first 3 months has been to do with managing and improving the performance of suppliers, primarily on their delivery of Business and Technology Services. A recent example of this work is my development of a Supplier Scorecard, a tool for monitoring the performance of key suppliers. This involves collaborating with suppliers and using my creative initiative to look for new ways to improve both the way we monitor their performance, and the way they deliver their service to Unilever.

BTM gives a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of implementing new and improved technologies throughout the business. One project I am currently working on is the roll out of a tool for signing documents digitally. Not only is this sustainable but it could save Unilever masses of cash by reducing ink and paper usage throughout the company, not to mention time and effort! This is a great example of where I have the potential to make a genuine improvement to the way Unilever do effective and efficient business through an improvement in technological ways of working.

 

one Business & Technology Management (BTM)

One Year Wiser

I’ve just gone past the year mark here at Unilever – it’s really scary to say but I’m officially a 2nd year Trainee – and I had a great time welcoming the new Business and Technology Management trainees onto the scheme – watch this space to hear more from some of them!one

So what have I learnt in a year? I look back at my first placement up in Port Sunlight and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in my working style and approach. This change means other people react differently to me – and therefore give me more responsibility.

I’m just starting my third placement, and I’m working business partnering Global Customer Management (Sales). One of the first things my manager told me is that I’d be looking after nearly €1 million’s worth of projects – I can’t tell you how petrifying yet exhilarating hearing something like that is!!! Of course there are people to support me if I get stuck, but essentially, they are my projects.

So the 3 main learnings for me over the past year are:

1) Don’t be scared of networking – I’ve got a new name for networking – “niceworking”. I was terrified of networking when I started, and thought I was terrible at it. But I am nice to people and try to help them out whenever I can – people I genuinely like and am interested in. I realised in my second placement I needed to get something done and one of my team from my first placement was the person I needed to help me – and because I knew her well and I’d always been helpful, of course she was happy to help! I was like, Wow! I have a network!

2) You’ve got to be the one who pushes YOUR project. In my 1st placement I relied on my line manager to get my projects kicked off as I didn’t know the people involved and I was nervous – but now I know everyone here is really busy, so you have to be the one to take the initiative on your projects or other things you want to get done, as other people have other priorities. Whether this is putting a meeting in with your line manager to find out who all the people involved are, or just speaking to people you do know to find out more, it’s all about getting things moving (Go Bias for Action!)

3) Do your research, act as an expert and people will trust you – many roles in BTM are business partnering, where you are the link between IT and the business. I worked in Digital Marketing Services for my second placement where I business partnered the Hellmann’s brand team to help launch www.Hellmanns.co.uk in 12 countries across Europe. I was only able to offer advice (and the team to trust me enough to take this advice) on this project because I worked closely with the rest of my team to get an understanding of the project and what we were trying to achieve.

(Thanks to Mrs Logic on Flickr for the awesome number 1!)

mrallwrighty Business & Technology Management (BTM)

Sink or Swim?

mrallwrightyWhen was the last time you were thrown in the deep end? When was the last time you ASKED to be put there?

3 weeks ago, I did – without really noticing it! But if you’re never in deep water, you’ll never learn to swim. My name’s Catherine and I’ve just started on the Business & Technology Management Future Leaders Programme. And I think I can proudly say I’m currently doing doggy paddle – not quite swimming smoothly, but moving in the right direction and learning new things every day!

My first placement is in Application Services, which is a team based up in Port Sunlight, near Liverpool. If you think about all the Apps you have installed on your phone, they all have to be created by someone, and then someone has to look after the service so you can keep using it. In Application Services, we look after those ‘someones’. The applications are slightly more important than things like Angry Birds (As much as you try to convince yourself it’s time well spent!) – we deal with things like our global intranet site and the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)systems around the world.

Looking after the ‘someones’ generally means working very closely with external suppliers – and making sure they’re doing what they’re being paid to do. When I started, one of the three things my team asked me to do in my 6 months on this placement, was to organise a new scorecard for us to monitor the service quality we are receiving from one particular supplier.

So, what was it I asked to do a couple of weeks ago? My line manager had arranged a call with a new supplier that she thought would be perfect to create this new scorecard for. She asked me to come along, as I would be managing the project. On the call I got more and more confused as to why we were going to pay this supplier to run a pilot, when I thought it was something I could do with a little bit of extra training in Excel. After the call, I was umming and ahhing about what to do, because my line manager was just about to sign a purchase order to authorise us paying this supplier. I took the initiative to tell my line manager that I wanted to give the scorecard a shot first and she said I should go ahead.


3 weeks down the line, a lot of time speaking to different people to find all the data to go into the scorecard, as well as quite a few hours in Excel, I have a beautiful mock-up my line manager is impressed with. It’s still a work in progress, and we still might bring the external suppliers in to maintain the scorecard and take it onto the web at a later date, but right now I feel like I’ve saved Unilever quite a bit of money. I’ve had a chance to make a real difference to the company just one month after I started

Give me a couple more weeks and I’m sure I’ll have progressed to a kind of messy front crawl – keep checking the blog for progress!

(Thanks to MrAllWrighty on Flickr for the awesome photo)