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Unilever Sustainable Business Challenge


Unilever invites university students to head office to talk sustainability  

A team of three first year Durham University students has been crowned champions of Unileverís Sustainable Business Challenge, a competition open to all current UK and Ireland university students in order to engage the next generation of business leaders in the subject of sustainable growth.

The competition was launched and hosted on Unileverís graduate recruitment Facebook page (, asking students to work in teams to come up with an idea in 200 words or a two minute long video suggesting how the company can achieve its ambitious Sustainable Living Plan targets.

The nine shortlisted teams from universities all around the country were invited to Unileverís UK head office in Surrey to develop their ideas with a Unilever graduate employee and present them to UK board member Iain Potter, VP Marketing Ė Home and Personal Care, and Karl Donnan, Distribution Director.

Two runner-up teams won a yearís supply of Ben & Jerryís ice cream but the winning Durham University trio walked away with a yearís supply of their favourite Unilever product plus £1,500 worth of travel vouchers after pitching the idea of inspiring consumer change. The concept, called naturallyresponsible, recommended adding a high-impact logo to relevant product packs which suggests how consumers can make sustainable choices when washing, cleaning or cooking with the product. The simple-yet-effective idea was perceived to be such a success that the team has been invited to work with Unileverís Radox team to develop the idea further and potentially integrate it into the business.

Iain Potter, VP Marketing Ė Home and Personal Care and one of the judges, said, "The calibre of the studentsí ideas was exceptionally high and it was a really valuable experience to welcome open-minded students with fresh ideas into our business to talk about sustainability. We acknowledge that many of our Sustainable Living Plan targets are very challenging and weíll need innovation, inspiration and ambition to achieve them. The Durham University team realised that solutions donít need to be complex and suggested a realistic yet impactful idea designed to inspire behaviour change which we are currently investigating for use within the business.Ē

Alex Deung, first year English Literature student from Durham University, said on behalf of the team, "There are a variety of reasons why we entered the Unilever Sustainable Business Challenge, one of which being the opportunity to channel our energies towards an end goal we passionately believe in: sustainability. We were attracted to the Challenge because it wasnít any old undergraduate relations exercise - at its heart, it was about being open-minded to new ideas that might help to solve real problems. It is very exciting to think we could play a genuine part in Unileverís journey as we continue to discuss and develop our idea alongside the brand team.

Alex continued, "The reality is that we risk jeopardising our own futures and the futures of others unless we take the initiative and change our ways. Organisations like Unilever are truly in it for the long run so itís in their interest to play a part in bringing about change, and the global scale of a firm like Unilever means its impact really can be felt. Sustainability is a responsibility, and one that Unilever is taking seriously. The Sustainable Living Plan is much more than a list of targets: itís a business plan in its own right.Ē