If you’re eager to dive into the dynamic world of the FMCG & Retail industry but feel uncertain about where to take your first steps, look no further! This interview series features conversations with professionals currently working in the sector, where they provide their perspectives and insights from companies like Ahold Delhaize, Pon, and Unilever.
Meet Lente Özgüner, a Junior Account Manager Foods at Unilever, who will give us a closer look at her job, what it involves and what makes working at Unilever unique. With Lente as your guide, you’ll gain invaluable insights into the fast-paced FMCG field and discover what it’s like being a Junior Account Manager at Unilever.
What is your name, role at Unilever, and how long have you been working here?
My name is Lente Özgüner. I have been working at Unilever as a Junior Account Manager Foods in the Albert Heijn team since early 2022. Last year, I was responsible for the brands Conimex and Knorr, and since January this year, I have been responsible for the Unox brand.
What did you do before starting at Unilever?
I studied Commercial Economics with a specialization in entrepreneurship at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. In my second year of the program, I transformed my ideas into actions by setting up a jewelry webshop with a fellow student. Through this experience I gained valuable understanding of branding and selling products in an online environment.
Before transitioning to my third year, I had the opportunity to study for one year in New York City. I completed my minor in marketing and management at the Zicklin School of Business Baruch.
Upon completing the first half of my third year, I decided to gain practical experience in the retail industry. I did a six-month internship at Albert Heijn in the commerce department. My primary responsibility involved overseeing the product development process for a private label. As a member of the breakfast team, I acquired valuable skills in driving organizational progress and achieving tangible outcomes. After my internship at Albert Heijn, I wanted to experience a different perspective and did a six-month internship at Nestlé. At the Nestlé Purina category management team, I learned to make fact-based decisions by collecting and translating data into insights. This approach fostered mutually beneficial relationships with retailers, creating win-win situations. During both internships, I developed my analytical skills and deepened my knowledge of the FMCG industry.
After my internships, I enrolled in a dual master’s degree in Facility and Real Estate Management at the Hotel Management School Maastricht and the University of Greenwich. I wrote my thesis on the future of Dutch corporate offices in the FMCG sector after the altered office routines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is it like to work as a Junior Account Manager Foods?
In my role, I am responsible for the Unox brand at Albert Heijn. I support the Key Account Manager in customer visits, year-deal preparations, and the realization and monitoring of the optimal account plan.
As a Junior Account Manager, I gather and provide information from various internal stakeholders, such as marketing, supply chain, and category management. It is important to have a strong collaboration with these departments in order to serve Albert Heijn as effectively as possible. Additionally, I am involved in product introductions, promotional activities, and preparing communication to the customer.
A typical workday has been quite dynamic in recent years. There have been significant changes in the FMCG sector. First, we had to deal with COVID-19 and its consequences regarding changing buying patterns. Consumption shifted from out of home to the consumer’s home. Currently, we are facing high inflation, which brings a whole different dynamic. This has led us to adjust our commercial plans in terms of product, price, and promotion.
What is it like to work at Unilever?
Working at Unilever as a young starter is incredibly enjoyable. Within the organization, you find the perfect combination of young ambitious starters and experienced individuals. We learn from each other and strengthen one another. Unilever also offers a good mix of business and pleasure. We work hard, but there are also many activities organized by the Young Unilever Managers (YUM) that focus on business, purpose, and social aspects.
I appreciate that, in addition to our standard job responsibilities, we have the opportunity to dedicate extra attention to topics we are passionate about, such as ‘waste’ or ‘health and well-being’ within our customer team or organization. Furthermore, I enjoy going to work everyday not only because I find fulfillment in my job, but also because of the people who work at Unilever.
What would you have liked to know before starting as a Junior Account Manager Foods?
In 2022, I began my journey here with the aspiration of working for a large international FMCG company with beautiful, strong brands. In the meantime, I have discovered that it not only contributes to my professional development but also to my personal growth.
At Unilever, you are given a lot of responsibility from day one. You are thrown into the deep end, it’s learning on the job, and this should be something you enjoy. Unilever provides the opportunity to be coached by senior leaders who help you navigate through such a large organization. They share their personal experiences and ask the right questions to make you think. It is a great combination of entrepreneurship on the one hand and a professional organization on the other.
Can’t wait to get started as a Junior Account Manager Foods or do you want to stay up-to-date on other job openings at Unilever? Connect with Unilever on Magnet.me via this link and start expanding your network!