Donna Ahern talks to Emily Pittman, managing director for Unilever in Ireland.
How would you describe your role?
I’m the managing director for Unilever in Ireland. My role is to ensure that we serve the great Irish population with affordable and purposeful personal care, homecare, hygiene, food and ice cream products.
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
I was a cleaner for my dad’s offices - he owned a forklift business in New Zealand. I learned that no matter how senior you are, you are never too good to sweep the floor and clean the tools at the end of the day, and that the inches matter in doing a great job.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Unilever’s purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. I love that as a leader in consumer goods we can make an impact on Irish society through our brands.
For example, Dove found that, in a study conducted with Irish 11 to 14 year olds, 84% of them had low body confidence, which was one of the lowest rates of confidence globally.
I am really proud that we have just launched a programme where we will reach one-third of all 11 to 14 year old girls this year to offer ways to reverse this statistic. In the first two months of launch, we are half way towards this goal.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Anywhere in the world where I can make the biggest difference to making sustainable living commonplace and proving to all global businesses that we can do this while operating at the highest degree of financial performance.
What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?
Just go for it. If you are curious about people, love to hold products in your hands and have a desire to win, there is no better industry to be in.
What was your worst job, and what was so bad about it?
I worked in recruitment services for a year and badly missed products. It was actually a great experience as it helped me decide that I loved products and that getting back to consumer goods was my passion.
What do you think the government could do to help business in the current climate?
We have appreciated the support government has shown for business in recent times, particularly through Covid-19 and Brexit, and continued clarity and support is all anyone can ask for.
What three business people do you most admire, and why?
As a native New Zealander and a woman, I admire the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She shows us that you can be kind, caring and strong, while delivering results. Walt Disney is the true embodiment of a real dreamer, with admirable artistic vision that has stood the test of time. And Elon Musk - when you think something can’t be done, he does it, proving that nothing is impossible.
What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?
We have just launched a brand called graze, which make great tasting, healthy snacks. Their new advert, with the talking squirrel ‘CEO’ (chief eating officer) is definitely worth a watch on YouTube!
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up and why?
It has to be Marmite. I’m a Marmite lover, especially on toast for breakfast.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
Johnny Cash, Marylin Monroe and Elvis Presley – glamour and music.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
You are a long time working, so enjoy the ride.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a mum to two children so I love to see the world from their eyes in simple pleasures such as reading and outdoor adventures. I also like tennis and golf, and watching some rugby.
How much time do you spend on social media in an average week?
Probably not enough, between running Unilever Ireland and being a mum!
Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?
With which fictional character do you most identify?
Most likely to say?
How do we double that ambition?
Least likely to say?
It is impossible.
© 2021 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. For more