Career profile: Yann
The most satisfying thing about working in Unilever R&D is the diversity of people, both in terms of cultures and backgrounds. I might find myself brainstorming an issue with ten scientists, all experts in different fields – it's fascinating.
Also, instead of being compartmented, we are exposed to the whole product cycle from start to finish. So we are regularly in contact with people from Marketing and Supply Chain, for instance. We are very focused on the business goals but, at the same time, have a lot of freedom in how we approach those goals.
With an engineering background, creating stuff is my passion. In my previous role, I was responsible for evaluation techniques in hair care. We take attributes that consumers tell us are desirable – like softness and smoothness – and develop technical evaluation methods to make sure that we are delivering what they want and that, through measuring, we continually improve the product benefits.
Right now I’m in charge of instrumentation for high throughput science. That’s about screening large numbers of molecules very quickly. My job is to identify advances in screening methodologies and exploit synergies between categories. Whilst we’re always improving what we do internally, I'm working more and more with people outside Unilever. Sometimes a new technique could take us too much time to develop so we co-operate with external partners who already have that technology.
It’s a whole different area for me which means a big learning curve. Not only am I involved with new methods and ways of working, my role has completely changed. Now I spend about two thirds of my time managing projects and the rest managing people. Both of which I find highly challenging and rewarding.
So when I come into the lab in the morning, I never quite know what I’ll be doing that day – that's what I like about this job.