R&D Technologist - RDC Beverages Europe at Unilever

Start Date:
Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire East Midlands
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Higher Level (Level 4/5)
£17,000 annually
Review Date:
June 2015

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1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


Job Title: R&D Technologist - RDC Beverages Europe

Product development - including new product development, innovation and value improvement projects for Unilever's European tea, fruit & herbals portfolio. Working on brands such as PG Tips in the UK and Lipton in Europe as well as many more.

Daily tasks and responsibilities include; producing prototype samples, running product tastings, specification creation, presentations, portfolio complexity reduction, product quality improvement and competitor monitoring.

Daily interactions are with a varied team of people working in supply chain, consumer technical insights, marketing, packaging and regulatory.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


I have now completed an FdSc in Food Science & Technology at Nottingham Trent University, on a day release program. Currently in my final year completing a 1 year BSc Top-up. Internal training is always on offer with an E-Learning hub where you can find almost any topic relevant to working culture, personal development as well as project specific tool. Whilst working I have personally developed my time management and prioritisation skills as well as team communication and understanding of working in a corporate environment.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


Day to day work is really varied which suits me well as I hate doing the same thing everyday. The working culture is also very relaxed which makes coming to work a lot easier. Everybody is friendly and I am treated like any other employee; with respect, with which comes responsibility. Unilever is an excellent company to work for, offering a competitive salary plus additional benefits such as, pension, annual bonus scheme, academic sponsorship and personal development opportunities.

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4. How valued do you feel by Unilever?


Respected and valued like any other employee. I have a personal development meeting with my manager at least 4 times per year and at least once per year with my Director.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


The programme is very well organised. I jumped straight into my first role which was supported by both a 'buddy' in another team as well as a mentor. Studying is on a day release system whereby you travel to your place of education on a set day and work for the other four days of the week. The apprenticeship is on a rotation system so you get to experience more than one role throughout the duration of your training.

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


Just like going to university normally.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


Unilever are proactive with a strong HR, mentoring and management structure to help you through.

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7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


The salary is very good and linked to a performance related increase each year. You are also included in the Unilever annual performance based bonus scheme.

My sponsorship for studying also includes travel costs and any supporting materials I may need.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


There are a number of sports teams and 'societies', including an on-site running team, 9-hole golf course, gym, squash court, tennis courts, football pitch, rugby pitch and cricket circle. If you're not interested in sport there is also a fishing group, archaeology group and an on-site museum which is open for part of the year.

There are lots of opportunity to volunteer, either on-site or off-site, organised by Unilever or employees. You can get 5 days off work per year to volunteer if you take 2 of your personal holiday days off.

Unilever work with STEM and the local schools to really engage people in the industry from a young age.

9. Would you recommend Unilever to a friend?


9b. Why?

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Unilever?

The application is quite rigorous but don't be nervous, everyone is really friendly and want you to do your best. Just be yourself, show that you are passionate about the role you are applying for and make sure that you read up about Unilever's work culture, ambitions and ethics before turning up for an interview. Other than that, just follow the same rules as any other interview, dress smartly, be on time and make sure you are really engaged.

The application process for the R&D Apprenticeship involves filling in an online application with a small personal statement, a telephone interview, an open evening and an assessment day which involves a one-to-one interview , a presentation of yourself and group work/activities.

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