Maria and Paul Polman2 Business areas

6 months down the line: Maria Snowden, Finance IP

Hi, I’m Maria. I study economics at the University of Bath and am currently an IP on the Finance scheme.

My last blog post was about my experiences in Brand Development for Homecare, which involved business partnering a marketing team and working on everything from
business cases to brand strategies. Over the past few weeks I’ve transitioned from that role to working as part of a project team with external consultants to streamline our cost recovery process. It’s been a strange feeling joining a new team and feeling totally clueless all over again! I’m still based in our Global HQ in Central London, which is a really buzzing office to work in- not to mention being in a perfect location for socializing after work. Read more “6 months down the line: Maria Snowden, Finance IP”

Julia Fentem interview Application Tips

Senior leader interview: Julia Fentem, Vice President SEAC

Julia is Head of Unilever’s Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) and has spanned a career within Unilever since 1998. With an academic background in biochemistry and a PhD in toxicology, she has also played a key role in shaping the R&D UFLP and so read about her career so far, tips for being successful on the scheme and maintaining that vital work-life balance: Read more “Senior leader interview: Julia Fentem, Vice President SEAC”

Raji profile pic Business areas

6 months down the line: Raji Khaira, Marketing IP

Hi my name is Raji and I am currently an undergraduate placement candidate, in marketing at the wonderful world we call Unilever. I study Business and International relations at Aston University. I have worked in retail as a part time job for many years mostly at phone shops, so I enjoy a good sale and definitely love the evolving world of technology. Read more “6 months down the line: Raji Khaira, Marketing IP”

Ollie Smith-profile Human Resources

Tchaikovsky to TIGI: Ollie Smith, HR UFLP

With a tightening job market, dwindling public support, and cuts from government funding, arts and humanities degrees are struggling to assert their relevance in today’s commercial environment.

Or so people often think.

Whilst students become increasingly concerned about employer opinion and their degree’s potential to land them a job post-graduation, and rightly so, pursuing a degree in the arts or humanities still allows you to develop a wealth of skills, and affords you many experiences on which you can draw, that you can successfully apply in the workplace. Whilst there are a few graduate schemes that demand specific degree subjects from applicants, Unilever is a great example of a business that welcomes applications from any degree type for most of its programmes.

I have degrees in Music and Musicology from Birmingham Conservatoire and the University of Birmingham, and yet I now find myself on the Unilever Future Leader’s Programme (UFLP) in my first placement as a Global HR Business Partner. This role places me directly at the heart of one of Unilever’s more recent acquisitions, the premium haircare brand TIGI, where I’ve been given immediate responsibility and accountability: instead of score analysis, my days are filled with data analysis, capability projects, and managing End of Year employee performance assessments. Of course I don’t have specific training in business or Human Resources, but Unilever doesn’t expect you to be an expert – that’s where the UFLP steps in.

So if you’re wondering if you can apply, or if you can compete with slick Business graduates for what are highly competitive programmes, the answer is yes – I would encourage you to apply and leverage the different experience your degree has given you to mark yourself out from other applicants. That’s not to say that it won’t be tough however, and so here are my top tips for making an application:

  • Know the business; know Unilever. There is never an excuse for not doing your research, and you will be expected to be clued up with how the business is performing both in the UK and further afield. What are our challenges? What is the marketplace like?
  • Know why Unilever is right for you. Why are you convinced that you belong here and not Nestlé, Proctor and Gamble, or L’Oréal? What is Unilever all about as a company?
  • Leverage your experience and make it unique. Don’t simply refer to group projects or typical university situations when answering competency questions, but try to use something more interesting or unusual that not all students will have been able to do, especially as an arts and humanities graduate. If you can relate your example directly to the question being asked whilst making it different and memorable, this will help to put you ahead.
  • Know the function. This is particularly important if you’re not from a business or science background, as you might need to do some additional research, but this is time well spent as you need to know as much as possible about the business area to which you’re applying.
  • Be confident. This sounds like such a flippant thing to say, but being confident enough to articulate yourself well is crucial – don’t let nerves prevent the interviewer from seeing your potential.

Toi toi toi!

Alex Walton profile Finance

My first few weeks as a finance UFLP: Alex…

Hi everyone,

I’m Alex and I’ll be writing a few blogs on my time in the graduate scheme (UFLP) at Unilever. I’m on the Financial Management programme and I’m currently based in Leatherhead on my first placement. I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into my first month at the company, and let you know what I’ve been up to and what you can expect when you get here!

So I studied Marine Biology at Southampton University before applying for Financial Management. Like you’re probably thinking now, my initial thoughts were “I’ll never get a job in finance with a science degree”, but Unilever look so far beyond your degree class that it’s almost irrelevant what you studied (with the exception of R&D where a science degree is pretty useful!). We have financiers with science degrees, marketers with history degrees, BTM grads with English degrees. Unilever are looking for the kind of person that they can turn into a future leader, whether that’s in marketing, finance, customer development or anywhere else. They don’t at all expect you to be able to manage accounts or balance profit and loss spreadsheets from the start. Rather, they believe that they can teach you everything you need to know – all they want from you right now is a willingness to learn and an ambition to succeed.

The first thing that you’ll do with Unilever is the induction week. This is a very full on but very fun 5 days involving lots of talks, social activities, dinners, visits, tours etc. We visited Port Sunlight in Liverpool, 100VE in Blackfriars and Leatherhead. The induction week is great for getting to know not just people on your workstream, but people from all over the intake. It means that when you get to your first placement, you already know a good number of people and absolutely do not feel like you’re lost! You’ll also spend time with the years above you from your workstream, so the second and third year UFLPs. This is really useful, and probably your first minor introduction into networking. Certainly, I realised that you can never have too many people to ask advice from, so definitely don’t be shy and make sure you ask every question you can!

After a week of late nights and early starts on induction, I didn’t at all feel nervous for my first week in the office. I’m based in Leatherhead which is a really easy commute and there is a free bus run by Unilever from the station to the office which is great. When I arrived, my manager and I sat down with a coffee and chatted about both of our life/experiences so far (his certainly went on for longer than mine!). It was really informal and my first taste of the management style at Unilever. He had organised at least twenty 1on1 sessions with various managers/directors around the building which again was a great way to network and build up a bank of people that I could go to for help, whether it was work related or otherwise.

A lot of the first couple of weeks in the office were spent learning the systems and software that Unilever use. I found it frustrating at first that I wasn’t able to crack on with work right away, but soon realised that the projects I was working on were very long term and that it was important to build a base of knowledge rather than blindly charging in. It takes time to get used to just how big Unilever is, and you will be emailing people in different offices in different countries for pieces of information. Of course, your managers are fully aware of all of this so don’t worry that don’t have anything to show after your first day! My manager and I have regular catch ups where we will sit down and talk about everything from the projects I’m working on currently, to England’s fiery exit from the Rugby World Cup.

Leatherhead itself is an amazing place to work. I’d spent a year before Unilever working for a small company in Bath and initially thought that the workplace itself wouldn’t have much of an impact on me. But once you’ve spent some time at Unilever, you will fully appreciate everything they have to offer! Massively discounted staff shop, free gym membership, free Ben and Jerry’s, discounted canteen – the list goes on!

I will write another blog soon that’s a bit more finance focussed, but hopefully I’ve given you some insights into what to expect in your first couple of weeks at Unilever from a more pastoral point of view!



sc-2 Local Internship Programme

Welcome IPSP Supply Chain!

Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial and Summer Placement Supply Chain students!  Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:


Name: Adam Fox

University: Sheffield Hallam

Course: Business Economics

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Group Manufacturing Sustainability Industrial Placement

What attracted you to Unilever?

It’s a huge organisation and consequently has a well structured placement scheme. Also the fact it produces well known products played a part. Unilever has also embraced the drive for greater Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability which has directly impacted my role, and shows it to be at the forefront of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods market.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Take note of the standards of leadership and gear your application towards them. They really are an important part of the organisation and even form the basis of performance reviews. Be open to change and try to learn at every opportunity. This will probably be easiest if you enjoy your role here so make sure you know what the role entails and try to choose the right function that you think you would enjoy most.


Name: Amelia Coe

University: Oxford

Course: History & Politics

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Supply Chain Innovation Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

I was interested in the experience of working for an international company with as wide a range of scope and functions as Unilever in order to gain an understanding of the inner workings of a global company. I was also sold on the strength of principles and genuine drive for sustainability in all aspects of the business that stood out as clearly different to other companies in the sector and across various industries.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Ensure you attend any recruitment events at your university and make a note of who you speak to and the responses they gave to your questions. This will be useful in interviews and assessments in order to demonstrate your active interest and research into the company.

Don’t downplay previous experience no matter how small, you can find useful demonstrations of key skills in even the most unlikely of experiences you have had (I spoke in my Assessment Centre and interviews of a range of things from obvious examples of leadership roles in University teams and societies to my previous catering job and the experience of helping friends in difficult situations) – as long as you are clear about how the experience proves a time you showed an essential skill, it is worthwhile and interesting. Don’t be tempted to panic if you feel you do not have clear examples such as being a Captain or President of a club or society – it’s about genuinely drawing on your experience.


Name: Eric Baumgartner

University: Strasbourg Business School [France]

Course: Business Management

Function: Supply Chain Management

Role Title: Requirements Planner

What attracted you to Unilever?

I was attracted by Unilever’s offer of an industrial placement in Supply Chain Management promising real responsibility, all the necessary support to be successful, vast insight into the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry and into Supply Chain’s strategic interactions with other business departments. Furthermore, I was very interested to work for the company producing some of my favourite brands, such as Lynx!

Any top tips for future applicants?

I’d strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with Unilever’s Standards of Leadership, Sustainability Living Plan and culture. The knowledge will help you throughout the application process. Use the STAR (Situation, Tasks, Actions, Result) method whenever you can. Don’t forget to express your passion for a/some Unilever brand/s! You should also think about your reasons for a summer or industrial placement and how Unilever can meet your expectations. Finally, use your university’s career service as much as you can.


Name: George Morton

University: Birmingham

Course: Chemical Engineering

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Waste Reduction – Norwich SU

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever is a huge company with a great reputation and wealth of opportunities to take advantage of. I also think for me supply chain represents an opportunity to explore other areas of the business rather than a purely engineering role.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Be true to yourself, if you really want the position it will come across in your application and interviews and you are probably more likely to be successful!


Name: Hafsa Ahmedi

University: Loughborough

Course: Chemical Engineering

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Waste Reduction

What attracted you to Unilever?

All the great brands

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do your research!


Name: Harriet Hill

University: Newcastle

Course: Business Management

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Customer Service Operations

What attracted you to Unilever?

The pride Unilever takes in its Corporate Social Responsibility and the opportunities that would be made available to me due to the size of the organisation.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Apply as soon as possible!


Name: James Phillips

University: Loughborough University

Course: Management Sciences

Function: Supply chain

Role Title: Supply chain innovation analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

The opportunity to work for a massive global company, whose brands I personally use on an everyday basis.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Feel relaxed and be yourself at all stages of the application. This may seem very obvious, but is the most key tip I can give, as the assessors are looking for people who can fit into the Unilever way of life.


Name: Kim Stehling

University: University of St Andrews

Course: BSc Economics

Function: Supply Chain Management

Role Title: USP Supply Chain Management

What attracted you to Unilever?

The scale of operations and the extent of the brand portfolio offer a vast range of opportunities across the supply chain. All the information I could find allowed me to get a really good picture of what it would be like to work at Unilever and I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to be given real responsibility in a supportive and challenging business environment.

Any top tips for future applicants?

I found that the key to a successful application is genuine enthusiasm for Unilever’s brands, backed up with an understanding of the industry and function you are applying to. There is no need to be too nervous about the interview or the assessment centre – I really enjoyed the day and everyone I met was incredibly nice and approachable.


Name: Krishna-Kamal Mistry

University: Aston University

Course: Economics and Management

Function: Supply Chain Management

Role Title: Industrial Performance IP

What attracted you to Unilever?

I wanted experience in an Multi-National Corporation and company that cares for the world. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was the biggest attraction for me as it moves away from the Corporate Social Responsibility model which can be very controversial and known as a broken model.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you are fully aware of Unilever competencies (the Standard of Leadership) and have strong examples for them. Also try to enjoy the process, it’s not as terrifying as you think.


Name: Matthew Ridout

University: University of Leeds

Course: International Business and Economics

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Global Manufacturing Sustainability

What attracted you to Unilever?

I was attracted to Unilever by its reputation, brand focus, Sustainable Living Plan and the opportunity to gain experience working for a global company. I was particularly keen to work in a company that had links to retail and worked in the consumer goods industry and Unilever offered all of this, along with a challenging but exciting placement scheme.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you do your research on the business, as this is essential throughout the entire application process to demonstrate an interest in the business and that you have spent time to also get to know the business. Both Facebook and Twitter are great ways to find out about Unilever. Make sure you enjoy the assessment centre, as this will allow you to be yourself and showcase your personality and skills accurately. Preparation is key, but just because you are not the most outspoken or most qualified doesn’t mean that you won’t get on to the scheme.


Name: Matthew Spedding

University: University of Leeds

Course: Economics and Management

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Requirements Planner

What attracted you to Unilever?

The brands! The chance to work to develop some of the world’s biggest brands drew me in!

Any top tips for future applicants?

Always consider the end customer in every stage of the process. When giving situational examples, highlight the impact it had or has on the customer.


Name: Murray Tainton

University: University of St. Andrews

Course: International Relations

Function: Supply Chain Management

Role Title: USP – Supply Chain Management

What attracted you to Unilever?

A fantastic opportunity to work with some of my favourite brands in an incredibly successful company.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you have done your research on the company. This includes knowing all the aspects that your function may cover and current global issues that may affect them.


Name: Oscar Donovan

University: University College London (UCL)

Course: History

Function: Supply Chain

Role Title: Global Workplace Sustainability Assistant

What attracted you to Unilever?

The company’s commitment to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan as a business model rather than as some Corporate Social Responsibility on the side, its futuristic approach to where and how people should work, and the fact that it makes some of the best brands on the market utilising one of the best supply chains in the world.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Really get your head around all five Standards of Leadership and feel confident of your experience and competencies in each of those areas. Don’t pretend to be the finished product (because nobody is), just be open and friendly whilst proving your potential!

finance-2 Finance

Welcome IPSP Finance!

Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial and Summer Placement Finance students! Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:


Name: Abbie Thistlethwaite

University: Loughborough University

Course: Accounting & Financial Management

Function: Finance

Role Title: CD Finance Analyst, Tesco

What attracted you to Unilever?

The UFLP (Grad scheme) and free ice cream

Any top tips for future applicants?         

Know the brands and understand Unilever’s core competencies. It was also useful to understand that the company has a strong marketing focus, which was highlighted as a strength during my assessment centre.  Just be confident in your abilities!


Name: Alex Bick

University: Nottingham University

Course: Economics with French

Function: Finance

Role Title: ETS Finance Support- IT Geography

What attracted you to Unilever?

Initially, the prospect of working for a world leader in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry- a constantly evolving industry- was the main attraction to working at Unilever. Unilever’s global presence also offers a huge number of opportunities to work abroad, meet people from different cultures and travel within your work which appealed to me, as a keen traveller. I was attracted to the Finance role particularly because it offered a chance to add real value to the business and promised immediate responsibility at the start of my placement for personal growth in my work. In the second week of my placement, I was communicating with Unilever employees based across Europe, resolving issues with actuals that would make a real difference in next month’s reports. Working for a company that owns renowned brands like Ben & Jerry’s also has its perks!

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do your research! Know the real reason you want to work at Unilever, why working at an Fast Moving Consumer Goods company appeals to you and what attracts you to your chosen function.

Be yourself! Your assessors want to get the best out of you and find out if you are suited to the company. They want you to show your best side.


Name: Matthew Haughton

University: University of Oxford

Course: Mathematics

Function: Finance

Role Title: Unilever International Finance Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

So many things attracted me to Unilever! One great aspect of Unilever is that it is a truly global company with over 2 billion consumers using a Unilever product every day! Unilever has a huge variety of brands in its portfolio from Cif household cleaning products to Magnum ice creams.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Ensure that you understand Unilever’s Standards of Leadership as these form an important part of both the recruitment process and Unilever’s culture. It is very helpful to try and think of examples of experiences where you have demonstrated each of the five Standards of Leadership.


Name: Romilly Smith

University: University of Edinburgh (& 1 year at University of California, San Diego)

Course: Social Anthropology and Politics

Function: Finance

Role Title: ROMI Finance Analyst

What attracted you to Unilever?

Opportunity to work for a Fast Moving Consumer Goods company with potential roles abroad.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Do not let your degree title put you off applying for any of the functions – it really does not matter in the assessment day, they just want to see how you think and whether you can be analytical in a general sense.