Acquisition Marketing Expert @ New Business Creation Unit, Unilever
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Q&A WITH ELLIOT
Could you tell us about the application process and your role at Unilever?
I was recruited by Unilever’s internal talent team. Given that I cut my teeth working at tech start-ups, I initially was unsure if it was going to be a good fit. I prefer fast over slow, breaking rules instead of following them, autonomy versus strict bureaucracy. In other words, a huge corporation was the opposite of what I was used to.
The talent officer said my responses were perfect, since the role would be for the digital innovation team based in Manhattan. I currently sit on the New Business Creation unit within Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care organization. Our team’s remit (like the name suggests) is to explore new business models and white spaces. My role is the Acquisition Marketing expert and I help shape the growth strategy for our new brands.
How did your experience at IEU prepare you for your professional career?
IEU does a good job at teaching soft skills. You might feel like you are doing waaaaaaay too many PPTs, but it pays off. Presentation and communication skills have a huge payoff and will help you succeed throughout your career.
What is the competitive advantage that studying at IEU provides or has provided you?
Diversity. IE alumni are diverse as individuals, but also in the careers and industries that they choose. You will have peers all over the world, doing all sorts of things.
Do you have any advice for IEU students and alumni who are looking to pursue a career at Unilever?
If you want to have a future in consumer goods or marketing, get your hands dirty. The sooner you start, the better. Try to launch something of your own, like a blog or newsletter. The barriers to entry to doing business online keep getting smaller and smaller. If you don’t want to start your own thing, intern at an up-and-coming brand to learn the ropes. You’ll pick up a ton and build a portfolio of experience that can be translated into a role at a CPG giant like Unilever.
What skills do you consider are needed to succeed in your field?
An experimental mindset. Solve problems by starting with a hypothesis to test against and design experiments that will help you make decisions. Plus, every business raves about building a ‘culture of experimentation’, so you’ll be a step ahead of the buzzwords and trends. You’ll be able to apply a methodology to any business problem and make decisions based on empirical data.
What skills would you recommend job seekers develop in order to make them more competitive in today’s workforce?
Be a builder. It’s not enough to have good ideas, you have to be able to execute and bring them to life. Being solutions-oriented is good but take it up a notch and find a way to get the job done. Understand that done is better than perfect and be open to improve your work through feedback and iteration.
What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
If you are being offered a huge opportunity and you don’t think you’re qualified, take the opportunity anyway. You have approximately 8 months before they figure out you were underqualified to begin with and that’s plenty of time to learn.
If someone was considering going to IEU, what would you tell them?
Great decision, but consider it a steppingstone and not the finish line. You should learn how to leverage your successes to beget more success. How are you going to leverage your branded education to open up more doors? Don’t slow down and get comfortable, you are responsible for setting your own pace.
Why did you choose the LLB & BBA Dual Degree program at IE University?
The marketer inside of me thought it was a good deal; two degrees for the price of one? Sign me up.
Only half-kidding. It sounded like a huge challenge and I wanted to give it a shot instead of shying away. If other people can do it, why not me?
What is one thing you wished you knew, when you were a student?
It’s okay to not know everything yet or not know what you want to do. Nobody does. Just get out the door and try as many things as you can. Eventually, you start to find things you like and that you’re good at. At the very least, you’ll find out what you don’t want to do. Either way, you’re building a story.
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