Michael Houston Unilever Graduate Image

Michael Houston

Monash University
Customer Development Management Trainee
Bachelor of Psychology with Marketing/Management at Monash University

How did you get your graduate got the job and why chose Unilever?
I initially applied for the Unilever Future Leaders Programme in 2012 (for the 2013 intake). Unfortunately my application wasn't successful. However, I knew this was a graduate program that I really wanted to be in due to Unilever's commitment to developing their graduates, as well as the opportunity to undertake an international rotation. So instead of finding other full-time employment in 2012, I decided to take some time to go travelling and reapply the following year. On that application, I was successful and joined Unilever as a Customer Development UFLP Management Trainee in February, 2014.

What the graduate's role involves: typical activities and key responsibilities

I have undertaken three different roles since I joined Unilever:

  • Initially I was working as a Category Assistant for our Continental brand, where I would provide our sales team with category insights and plans to ensure our food products are easily found and are sought after by our consumers in supermarkets across Australia.
  • I then moved into a marketing role, as Assistant Brand Manager for our LYNX brand. This was a really fun role, where I was involved in launching new fragrances, as well being involved in a number of events that sought to connect our brand with our target audience. A highlight was attending the 'GQ Man of The Year' award evening, where LYNX was the official 'Male Grooming' sponsor for the evening. Not every day I get to rub shoulders with celebrities
  • I am currently undertaking my international rotation in Bangkok, Thailand. Here I am focussing on creating a strategy to ensure the Thailand Customer Development function is ready for the year 2020. This is a really interesting piece of work, as the Thailand economy and shopper is changing rapidly. Oh… and also the fact that I am working and living in Thailand isn't too shabby either! 

Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely. I believe the amount of training and nurturing received on this program will be allow anyone to have the 'knowledge' to undertake the job.
I think the main thing applicants need is a good attitude. If you are open minded, positive and willing to learn, then you will be successful in this company, no matter what educational background you have.

3 pieces of advice for your teenage self...

  1. Do the best you can at uni – grades aren't everything but they do help getting a foot in the door for an interview for the highly competitive graduate programs.
  2. Travel and have fun – Don't get me wrong, I love my job and where I am, but the reality is you are only young once, and when full time work starts, you become a little more limited in your ability to recreationally travel. My best life experiences have been whilst travelling, and I honestly believe that my travel experiences helped me land a job at Unilever. It makes you a more interesting person, and therefore more employable!
  3. Don't be dismayed if your grad applications aren't successful – it took me 2 years to be accepted into the grad program that I wanted. Best thing you can do is listen to the feedback that is provided, reflect, and try again! If you really want it, and can keep motivated, you will be successful.