Opportunity and diversity

Unilever South Africa is striving towards a goal: to double its business by 2015, while halving its environmental footprint. It’s an ambitious objective, not least because of the scope of the organisation’s current business: it is currently the largest fast moving consumer goods advertiser in South Africa.

In spite of the privileged position the company enjoys in the market by virtue of its size, there’s no denying that the it is facing challenges, most notably the pressure resulting from difficult economic conditions and the negative impact this unavoidably has on consumer spend.

Marijn van Tiggelen, chairman of Unilever South Africa, has confidence in the company’s ability to meet these challenges, mainly because of the organisation’s workforce, which he describes as “energetic, experienced and passionate about performance”.

The need to ensure this workforce remains primed for the future is answered by an accent on building a robust employee pipeline. Driven by the company’s philosophy that all employees need to develop and grow, succession plans are in place for each individual.

Detailed organograms are formulated to illustrate possible career paths, while an extensive repertoire of training courses assures employees that, no matter what their choice, they will be skilled in the discipline relevant to their careers.

Mid-career recruitment has become an important tool used by the company to ensure that it is staffed by people with a mix of skills and experience, and in this way the talent pipeline is continuously fed.

However, graduate recruitment also remains a priority; in fact, Unilever’s graduate programme is highly respected and the company recruits as many as 50 graduates each year.

Attracting top talent is easy, given the organisation’s attributes: as a multinational company, it is able to offer international careers with the opportunity to work on some of the world’s favourite brands across categories from household products to beverages and cosmetics. The ability to move between functions and roles means that variety is a part of any Unilever career, should the employee desire it.

Finally, the company culture is considered a major asset: according to Van Tiggelen, it is a culture that stretches individuals by instilling a spirit of trying to be the best and continually persevering with an eye to improvement. At the same time, it allows individuals flexibility.

This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a sponsored feature

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