My Placement Year as an Assistant Human Resources Business Partner at Unilever

Hi! I’m Olivia, a third year Law student currently on placement working at Unilever as an Assistant Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) for Customer Development (CD).   

What is My Role? 

HRBPs are responsible for talent management, learning and development, team culture and performance. I lead our Learning Agenda which involves meeting with stakeholders to decide what areas of functional learning that we want to upskill on and how we will do so. This can include coordinating externally run courses in addition to creating learning plans for the team. 

Why Unilever? 

I chose Unilever because I wanted to work at a company that had roots all over the world. Unilever operates in over 190 different countries. In the UK and Ireland alone, 43 Unilever products are bought every second! I really valued their belief that they should lead with Purpose and their own purpose statement of making sustainability commonplace.  

Recruitment Process and Onboarding 

There were three rounds of recruitment with the final round being an assessment centre. They made sure to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease so we could present our best selves! It was unlike any assessment centre I have ever been to. They really wanted to see what we were like as people and what drives us. This was a nice approach and showed that they wanted to hire the whole person.  

Unilever did a great job with the onboarding process! They set up a group chat so all the placement students could get to meet each other. They also scheduled calls with our Line Managers so we could get to know them before working together.  

As my stakeholders are the Customer Development team, I have taken it upon myself to learn about Customer Development and how it works. CD are responsible for maintaining relationships with our buyers such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco. They are responsible for negotiating with the buyers to ensure that Unilever products reach the shelves. It’s an incredibly interesting function and I have learnt lots from shadowing them! 

What have I learnt so far? 

HR is much broader than I ever imagined! It’s much more than hiring and firing, there’s Mobility, Talent, Reward, Business Partnering, Employee Relations and more. I would say my proudest achievements so far have been project managing a career upskilling week which was rolled out to over 2000 employees and leading the learning agenda which is due to be rolled out to the entire Customer Development team in the UK and Ireland.  

I’ve not only learnt about the different areas of HR, but I have gained lots of confidence. I’m no longer anxious when talking to new people or when asking questions. Everyone at Unilever is always happy to help! 

Advice for placement students 

While lots of big companies recruit in September and October, others recruit throughout the year. Make sure you keep going, and get your applications checked before you send it off.