What is written on your business card?
Aprile Wenke – Marketing Graduate at Unilever
What does your employer do? What is your role?
Unilever is one of the biggest fast moving consumer goods companies in the world, managing an array of well known brands including Dove, Lipton and Omo. My current rotation is as the assistant brand manager for Streets Ice Cream. Besides taste-testing, my role involves managing some of Australia's favourite ice cream brands including Golden Gaytime, Cornetto and Paddle Pop.
Prior to this role, I spent five months in the field working in sales for Streets Ice Cream – so have truly seen the end-to-end process of our products in the market. The Unilever Graduate Program is fantastic because you are exposed to so many different facets of the business during your rotation, which ultimately makes you much better at your core job. Next month I'll be moving into my Customer Development rotation in Homecare where I'll be working as a category assistant. Even though I'll miss ice cream, it's a fantastic opportunity to learn a brand new category that has an entirely different dynamic.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Marketing at Unilever is incredibly broad and touches every aspect of the business. We see products through from idea to launch in the market and everything in between, which means working with a variety of different stakeholders locally and internationally to ensure it's successful. Other days might be focused on executing marketing campaigns, analysing the performance of our brands or designing point of sale.
What do you love most about your job? Has there been a particular project that you enjoyed?
I love working on projects that are more strategic and long term in their nature, so the stand out for me was when I was working on Blue Ribbon last year. I had the chance to deep dive into the brand to understand where it was placed in the market and what was driving its performance at the time. This involved finding multiple data sources – internally and externally and then filtering to what was truly important. Ultimately, I pulled together a strategy that was grounded in reality, that is now used to directly influence the brand's activities and has fed into exciting innovation for Blue Ribbon.
What's your background? Can you tell us about your study and any experience abroad?
I grew up in the Sunshine State – QLD – in the beachside town of Noosa. Most of my life I lived right near the coast so activities like surf lifesaving and swimming were a big part of my life. Despite growing up in such a beautiful place, I've always had a strong desire to travel the world. Once I moved to Brisbane to study, I used long university holidays as an opportunity to visit as many countries as possible. I ended up seeing over 30 countries in three years!
I studied a Bachelor of Business at Queensland University of Technology majoring in marketing with a minor in finance. Coming out of high school I was initially going to major in International Business because of my love of travel, however, I absolutely loved and topped my core marketing unit and so decided to make the switch. I haven't looked back since! In hindsight, I had always been inherently curious as to why people make certain buying decisions and choose certain brands over others, but hadn't really known what the concept of marketing meant. I was fortunate to be awarded the Corporate Partners in Excellence Scholarship and complete two internships as part of my degree – one in Events at the Ekka (QLD's annual show) and one in corporate communications at Energex (state electricity provider). Both were very different from what I'm doing now but provided a solid grounding for understanding the corporate world and also gave me great examples to talk through in graduate job interviews.
While at university I did two exchanges – one was a semester-long in Hong Kong and one was for the summer in Toulouse, France. These were some of the best experiences of my life because of the opportunity to be fully immersed in a culture, make local friends and get to see every corner of the city. Naturally, another key thing that attracted me to the Unilever Graduate Program was the chance to spend six months on a rotation in a different country within our region. At this stage, it looks like I'll be heading to Singapore early next year!
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, the graduate program at Unilever is very supportive and training opportunities are plentiful, however, most of the learning is done on the job! I do find some theoretical knowledge from my degree very applicable, so I would recommend anyone thinking about working in marketing to at least take a course or two.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Seeing a project you've worked on for six months or more, come to life in store. There's nothing cooler than seeing someone buy and enjoy your product after you've seen it through so many stages of the innovation process.
I also love the opportunity to be involved in the broader community that Unilever provides. The prime example is Dove Day, where we can volunteer to go to schools and deliver self-esteem workshops to primary school children. There's nothing more rewarding than your brand having a positive impact on the lives of others.
What are the limitations of your job?
The graduate program is fast-paced and definitely not for everyone. Rotating every 6–12 months means just as you begin to fully grasp a role, you're thrown in the deep end and the steep learning curve begins again. However, this constant challenge is exciting and means your pace of learning is accelerated.
What are two pieces of advice you would give to a university student?