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Business and Management – my placement year experience

What did I do?

I’m studying Business and Management at Durham University Business School.  From the outset of my placement year, I was based within the Global Talent and Performance team in the HR function at Unilever. This role consisted of assisting with both the implementation and planning of the talent and performance agenda globally for 2017 and 2018. My day to day workload often varied dramatically with much of my role being project-based and constantly refreshing with the agility of the business. However, some key tasks that made up the substance of my role included data collation and analysis to draw strategic insights, project management of Global Talent projects, the launch of new apps for performance management and also scanning externally for best practice in talent and performance management in the business world.



My main challenge at the organisation was interpreting the terminology used within business discussions. Due to the vast number of tools and processes that make up Unilever, there are a number of acronyms and colloquialisms that when first joining the company was difficult to interpret. However, after 6 months it is arguable that the main challenge became deadline management when relying on others to complete sections of a project that I was leading. The alignment of priorities could therefore often be tricky and stakeholder expectation management on completion timelines became a big part of my role. However, I overcame this by setting clear check-in points for each project that I was leading.


Despite having faced some challenges I also learned an abundance of skills and developed a deep understanding of the corporate practice. My main achievement was creating a global leadership team diversity analysis breakdown document that was shared with the CEO of the company for their review. Being only a placement student and getting to work in a position where my work was presented directly to senior leaders was definitely a highlight and allowed me to quickly develop my ability to understand a stakeholder brief and to present findings as requested.

The nicest part of my placement was the lack of hierarchy I found working within the company. I, on many occasions, had the opportunity to speak and even socialise with the Chief HR Officer of the company which was a great opportunity to learn and network. Further, the flexible working afforded to me allowed me to interact with individuals across all three of our London based offices in Kingston, Leatherhead and 100 VE in central London and be flexible in my working location. Finally, I would suggest that the most valuable thing I have developed on my placement year was my confidence across all platforms whether it be presenting, having the inner confidence when making a business decision or dealing formally with senior members of a global company. My placement year has enabled me to develop skills that I will carry throughout my future career.

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