Starters Cycle: Unilever Trainee Allard Joosten

Starters Cycle:
Unilever Trainee Allard Joosten

What is starting a new job like under COVID-19 regulations? Is it possible to choose the right company for you if you cannot even visit the office? Are you able to truly connect with your fellow employees without actually seeing them? These and more questions will be answered during this month's starters cycle, with four different trainees or juniors who started during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week we asked Allard Joosten, trainee at Unilever.    


Trainee of this week: Allard Joosten

This week, Allard Joosten shares his experience on the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, also referred to as UFLP. Allard studied International Business and International Financial Management, both at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, as he wanted to build a broad foundation of knowledge. Organising a camp for less fortunate children and going on exchange to Sydney were two highlights of his university years. These experiences showed him the need to make the world a better place and discovered his great ability to work with several cultures. After graduating, he wanted to discover his own interest. Therefore, he decided to do a Corporate Finance internship at KPMG. While the topic of Corporate Finance piqued his interest, the business advisory practices of KPMG did not satisfy his ambitions.


Allard’s experience 

Based on these experiences, he learned that he wants to invest his time and energy into one particular company, instead of advising multiple ones, and that he appreciates working in a multicultural atmosphere. Hence, Unilever would be a great fit. Additionally, he could make an impact, take responsibility for social and ecological challenges and gather experience in a lot of product markets through one company. He expected that the UFLP could offer him exposure to different fields and a clear development process. After several calls with employees, he also learned that he could expect huge responsibilities. Personally, Allard experienced the job application process as quick: in only two weeks he received the confirmation that he was going to start as a trainee! Although he could only share his thoughts and experiences face-to-face in the last round of the process, he was able to talk with many employees preceding the application via Zoom calls, giving him more insights into the company.  

After receiving the good news of being selected, he started to work as a Financial Trainee in March 2020. Prior to this, he had questions such as ‘How can I feel at ease at a huge company as fast as possible?’ and ‘How do I get the most out of the education and training process?’, which faded in a day by all the support that was offered to him. He was told: ‘You can make mistakes’. If you do so, they take the time to talk about it and focus on how you can improve your performance. Moreover, the company is very transparent, as there is a biweekly meeting with the CEO about the organization’s performance and worldwide trends, for example on the topic of: ‘How do we include all employees from different cultural backgrounds and countries?’

Allard describes the traineeship as challenging and empowering: 
“You really start from the ground up, first vending promotions to supermarket managers on the supermarket floor (a challenge that was cancelled due to covid-19), after which you are responsible for communicating with 50 factory controllers throughout Europe and implementing of a performance dashboard for all of them.”

Empowering through communicating: you can drink coffees with vice presidents and ask questions during an online presentation of the CEO. Moreover, there are several initiatives that support trainees to get to know other employees during these rough months, such as finance masterclasses (hear from business leaders across the globe), virtual coffees (meet financial trainees from all over the world) and online speed dates (for which you are randomly matched with another trainee). 

Allard’s next challenge: Unilever Food Solutions Global. He will be responsible for global regions when it comes to innovations, such as the partnership between The Vegetarian Butcher and Burger King worldwide. 


Tips from Allard

When it comes to finding the right company and position or the application process, Allard has several tips. Before applying, take time for yourself to figure out what it is that really drives you. This can be achieved by going abroad or talking about it with people close to you. Additionally, understand the company by doing an internship, and plan coffee meetings with employees. It is especially easy to have a coffee break now, as many employees are working from home. Then ask yourself: what are my values? Do the values of the company meet these? At the moment of applying, he advises you to prepare and just undergo the process. 


Traineeship at Unilever: Unilever Future Leaders Programme

The traineeship is a three year programme covering three management roles and being responsible on different levels: local (Benelux), European and global. As such, you are responsible for different fields, such as supply chain management, marketing or sales. Although, you have to choose one discipline to which you are eager to dedicate your work: Commercial (combination of Customer Development & Marketing), Finance, Human Resources, Research & Development, Supply Chain or Digital Analytics. 


What is in it for you?
-  A better world. A better business. A better you – 
We have been pioneers, innovators and future-makers for over 120 years. The success we’ve achieved means that, today, 2.5 billion people will use our products to feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Domestos/Glorix & Robijn give us a unique opportunity to create positive change, to grow our business, and to achieve our purpose of making sustainable living commonplace.
• 2.5 billion people use our products each day
• 400+ Unilever brands are used by consumers worldwide
• 190 Countries in which our brands are sold
• 155,000 Unilever people deliver our success
• €52 billion Our turnover in 2019
Unilever is the place where you can bring purpose to your life with the work that you do – creating a better business and a better world. You will work on brands that are loved and improve the lives of our consumers and the communities around us. You will lead innovations, big and small, that will make our business win and grow. You will learn from brilliant business leaders and colleagues who provide mentorship and inspiration so that you can become a better you.

If you are interested in the traineeship, there are even more opportunities. First of all, you have to apply for the traineeship and go through 3 selection rounds: playing multiple online games, filming a video fragment and a discovery day at the office. After being selected, you are ready to kickstart your career! The environment is people-driven and has no strong hierarchical structure. Besides, you are supported by three coaches (a mentor, the direct manager and a trainee with more experience) and you are offered training sessions with other trainees for personal development and skills sessions devoted to your chosen discipline. All in all, this encourages you to make the best out of your time at Unilever. 


Get in touch

Are you convinced to go for the UFLP or another position at Unilever, do not hesitate to contact Allard or sign up for our talent network:
Allard Joosten (questions regarding UFLP)
• E-mail: 
• LinkedIn:  
      Unilever Talent Network (Notifications and info on open positions)
• Website & sign up talent network: 
• E-mail:
Are you convinced to do a financial internship or work in a financial position, find out about current available financial positions at the Financial Career Platform.

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