My official title was a Personal Care Customer Account Manager working in the Customer Development Waitrose team. It was my responsibility to build and maintain an efficient working relationship with my buyer/s and draw upon knowledge of the category (Personal Care), the customer (Waitrose & it’s working ways) and the competitors (the current situation in the market) to enable me to tailor the best range of products for the Waitrose Skin Care customers. Upon my arrival I was assigned to oversee Skin Care and have used my learnings to also influence the Skin Cleansing, Hair, Deodorants and Male Toiletries categories. Similar to the nature of FMCG, my daily routine was shaped by the environment that I was in, with tasks often varying and arising due to demand to be created, completed or solved. In summary, I worked with various functions of the business such as Demand Planners, Supply Chain and Finance to put on promotions in the store to increase the market share and market size for my category.
I really enjoyed my placement at Unilever. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I had never worked for such a large organisation and certainly never had any experience in the sales sector from a managerial perspective. But Unilever structured the placement really well and the management and support system in place was brilliant – they made sure you were never lagging behind.
RateMyPlacement is currently advertising 14 roles at UnileverView jobs now →
I was placed on the Waitrose team within the Customer Development (sales) team and my responsibility was looking after skin care. This meant that I was just as accountable for bringing in revenue to the team as everyone else, which made me feel very trusted and valued. I was given help from everyone on my small team and the wider team (we sat with Sainsbury’s). Everyone was always keen to teach me which showed that Unilever are interested in investing in people.
I had a line manager to report to which also sat in the same section of the office as me. I could approach him at any time of the day and I had access to his calendar. It was a very relaxed office so I was free to get up and sit down with him over any questions I had. Secondly, I had a placement mentor who was there to discuss with me things that I didn't want to ask my line manager. Thirdly, I had my line manager's manager (my boss) that I could also see in case my manager was away. I was put on a lot of courses throughout the year so I was always being encouraged to learn something new.
My two days were never the same, despite having regular tasks that had to be completed as the whole office operates on a monthly cycle basis. Towards the end of my placement however I felt like I got a bit lost and therefore stopped doing a lot of the work - this is the reason why I stopped being as busy as I was at the start. This could also be blamed on the fact that at the start everything was so overwhelming and slow because I was new to it all whereas when I learnt the pace picked up a bit more but then towards the end I was handing stuff over I felt like I wasn't doing much.
A lot. From the start, as mentioned previously, I was given my own category which meant I was responsible for delivering a profitable profit and loss account. I had to attend meetings regarding the direction and strategies for the brands I was managing. I was responsible for putting on promotions in Waitrose for Simple, Dove and Vaseline skin care products but I also got to work on Hair, Men's & Deos and Bath & Shower (the other Personal Care categories). I was responsible for negotiating the most suitable portfolio of products; swapping unsuccessful products in for new or better ones.
I have now become much more organised. I treat the weekdays as if they are normal working days (9-5) and I am a lot more proactive when it comes to getting involved in societies, clubs, seeking volunteering opportunities and other situations which require leadership opportunities. I feel a lot more confident when speaking or presenting to a group of people and I can articulate myself better in a formal setting. I've also learnt how to write a cracking email!
It was very relaxed. The office was very open and there was a hot seat system in place meaning it was encourage to sit in a different seat every single day so that you could mingle with different people on a regular basis. You had to obviously sit next to your team but the teams ranged from 30-40 people so there was a lot of people to get to know. The dress code was smart casual. We had a room full of colourfull bean bags which was mean to encourage you to be creative. There were lots of free tea and coffee stations and every few hours someone in the team volunteered themselves to do the drinks round; this could by anyone from one of the apprentices, placement students or one of the senior directors.
It was very well structured. From the start, the training was always sorted out and I was recommended what courses to attend in order to be able to get myself up to speed. At the start I had regular meetings with my manager and once I settled in well I got on with things at my own speed and demand. He handed me over a lot of his responsibility and introduced me to a lot of people I would now be working with. He also included me in a lot of chain emails that would from then on invite me to the appropriate meetings, etc. So as soon as he felt like I was ready, I started attending these meetings on my own.
I was very well invested in, like mentioned previously I was sent on a lot of courses throughout the year. The great thing about Unilever is that people don't stay in the same position for longer than 18 months or so, meaning that people were constantly moving around and attending courses in order to settle in to their new position well. This meant that everyone in the office was happy to always learn and gain new knowledge and you were not 50 years behind someone who had been there for eternity. Chances were, you could actually teach others despite only being there for few months.
Very! I was working with a lot of graduates in my placement year so I could watch what their jobs consisted of and how they were being taken care of. Personally I was very impressed with the amount of responsibility they were given and it looked like a really good scheme to get yourself onto.
Yes, we were all close. We often went out after work on Fridays or just met up at lunchtime in the office. There were at least 4 meetings amongst with all the other placement students so you were constantly kept in the loop with everyone and could also see what others were up to.
I actually stayed at home during my placement year because it was only 30 mins away by train so I commuted like that. It was less sociable but I saved myself a lot more money than the people who chose to live in areas such as Clapham or Wimbledon. Cost of socialising was a little high because we met up where most people lived which was those two areas mentioned so for me it always involved a bit more travelling but was still worth it.
In the area that I actually worked it, there wasn't much to do as Leatherhead is a small place. That is why we would communicate to London. This depends on the office that you were placed in but there were some students who were placed in the Blackfriars office so obviously they had more places to go out in as they were already in central London.
Yes - there was a free gym in the building and many classes that you could attend for free so that took up a bit of my time when I worked there. Secondly, they have many fundraising or volunteering opportunities to get involved with and one whole day devoted to going out and volunteering. My activity was being part of the Dove Self-Esteem day and going out into local schools to talk about dangers of social media on your self esteem.