Interview Monica Liliana Chavez Toledo – Supply Chain: Procurement Intern

Reading time: 8 minutes

If you’re interested in the FMCG & Retail industry and need some direction in starting your career, this interview series is for you. We present conversations with employees in entry-level positions currently working in the sector, sharing their perspectives and insights from companies such as Ahold Delhaize, Pon, and Unilever.

Meet Monica Liliana Chavez Toledo, an intern at Unilever in the Supply Chain and Procurement department. Monica will be your virtual guide, offering an in-depth look into her role, the responsibilities she has, and the unique culture at Unilever which makes her job so much fun! With Monica’s insights, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the fast-paced FMCG industry and get a glimpse into what it’s like being a Supply Chain and Procurement intern at Unilever.

What is your full name, role at Unilever, and how long have you been working here?

My full name is Monica Liliana Chavez Toledo, and I’m a Supply Chain and Procurement Intern. I have been working in procurement for 9 months, finalizing in August, making it a 1 year working experience at Unilever Supply Chain, Procurement Team.

What did you do before starting at Unilever?

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Supply Chain Management at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. My prior academic background is in business and amongst others, supply chain management, in Taiwan, Mexico, and Germany. During my studies, I gained valuable experience as a working student in operations at a startup company in Germany. This was useful for half of the skills that I have been developing over the last 8 months at Unilever, and the other half is derived from new learnings on my everyday projects in the Unilever Procurement Team.

How are you experiencing your role as a Supply Chain and Procurement Intern so far?

My role so far has been amazing, full of new experiences, learnings, and connections. Over the last 8 months, I had the opportunity to work on two different categories in procurement, 6 months only focusing on portfolios in Global Ingredients and the other 6 months supporting the category team on Skin Cleansing for Beauty and Personal Care Team. This brought me a unique mix of knowledge, skills, and practice since they are both so different but aiming for the same goal: safety.

My typical workday starts between 08:30 and 09:00, when I arrive at the office. Since Unilever offers the flexibility to work hybrid, both from home and at the office, I usually go to the office two times a week. I usually start with some coffee or tea with some colleagues and then I start preparing for my day. I usually start by checking my emails, having some meetings and discussions for many new and exciting upcoming projects. In between emails and meetings, I always try to find the time to connect with my colleagues while at the office, checking their work tasks, learning from them and listening to their advice when I am stuck on a project. In addition, we have lunch together. We try to rotate which building we get our lunch from since there are so many options!

What is great about working at Unilever is that there are so many office space options for us to be comfortable, so sometimes I am at my desk with my colleagues, and at other times I try other spaces for meetings. In case you are the same as me and speak loudly during the meetings, it’s great to have this flexibility. There are occasions in which Unilever hosts after-work drinks to connect with other colleagues rather than just procurement, for example, from marketing, supply chain, finance, or innovation. It is great to share more about your experience and get to know others during these drinks. My day usually ends around 17:30; I pack my things and cycle home.

What is your experience working for Unilever?

One of the standout features of Unilever’s people and culture is how accessible everyone is, regardless of their role. As a new intern, I had many questions and high expectations for my tasks. However, I soon realized that managers and colleagues at Unilever are incredibly friendly and supportive, not only within my team but across departments as well. I even had the opportunity to meet with directors who were always willing to help with any doubts or concerns I had. This supportive culture is truly special and makes Unilever a great place to work.

What makes Unilever unique is that, besides the fact that Unilever has a global reach in over 190 countries, it offers employees and interns the chance to work with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and gain exposure to different cultures and ways of working. Moreover, Unilever’s development opportunities are extensive, and the company provides ample training opportunities for individuals looking to reinforce their skills and be fully prepared for their next role. All these factors make Unilever a truly unique and exciting place to work.

What would you have wanted to know before you started working as a Supply Chain and Procurement Intern?

One key lesson I learned during my time at Unilever is the importance of asking questions and seeking support when needed. Starting a new role can be overwhelming, and it’s natural to have doubts or concerns about your tasks or responsibilities. However, I found that my managers and colleagues were always approachable and supportive, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant my questions were. This made a huge difference in my ability to feel confident and comfortable in my role; maybe this is also a big reason why I decided to extend my internship in the procurement team.

For aspiring young professionals, I would encourage you to keep an open mind when it comes to exploring different roles within the supply chain field. From procurement and portfolio management to innovation and supply chain operations, there are a wide range of opportunities to choose from. Don’t be afraid to try something new or step outside your comfort zone. You may discover new passions or skills that you never knew you had. Ultimately, it’s this willingness to learn and grow that will help you thrive in any role.

Additionally, I would encourage students to seek out internships or other hands-on experiences to supplement their academic learning. Working in a real-world environment can provide valuable insights and skills that cannot be gained in a classroom setting alone. It also allows you to network with professionals in your field and gain a better understanding of the industry as a whole. It definitely helped me; together with my master’s degree, I could put into practice what I was learning every day.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to use the resources and support available to you, both within and outside of your workplace. I think staying proactive and engaged is key to your personal career development.

Do you want to stay up-to-date on job openings at Unilever? Connect with Unilever on via this link and start expanding your network!