A team of three first year Durham University students has been crowned champions of Unilever’s 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 Unilever’s graduate recruitment Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/
The nine shortlisted teams from universities all around the country were invited to Unilever’s 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 – home and personal Care, and Karl Donnan, distribution director.
Two runner-up teams won a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but the winning Durham University trio walked away with a year’s 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 the team has been invited to work with Unilever’s Radox team to develop the idea further and potentially integrate it into the business.
Potter said: “The calibre of the students’ 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 many of our Sustainable Living Plan targets are very challenging and we’ll need innovation, inspiration and ambition to achieve them. The Durham University team realised solutions don’t 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.”
On behalf of the team, Alex Deung, a first year English Literature student from Durham University, said: “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 wasn’t 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 Unilever’s journey as we continue to discuss and develop our idea alongside the brand team.
“The reality is 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 it’s 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: it’s a business plan in its own right.”