Unilever Business Tour

On Friday, 24 April 2015 the Chamber's Leadership in Asia Business Group organised a tour to Unilever's Leadership Development Facility called Four Acres at Nepal Park, Singapore.

 

The facility is the latest example of the long and excellent partnership between the UK and Singapore which dates back over 200 years. Four Acres Singapore is dedicated to develop leaders with a ‘purpose-driven’ approach to business. This is in keeping with the stance Unilever has taken throughout its history, where it has strongly advocated for corporations and corporate leaders to actively support the broader needs of society.

During the tour, John Nolan who is Senior Vice-President Human Resources – Global Markets at Unilever shared several insights into this initiative and how this facility is helping Unilever address productivity and talent issues. 

 

 

John shared some key information about the facility:

  • The first Four Acres was established in London in 1957.
  • Unilever invested €50 million in building the Singapore facility which has been awarded the BCA Green Mark
  • The same curriculum is followed at both centres which is relevant to the current global market needs.
  • Unilever’s social responsibility is embedded in their mission “Do well and do good”.
  • Unilever collaborates with various organisations such as British Chamber of Commerce, Singapore, BP, Shell, Diageo, Singapore Management University, Human Capital Leadership Institute, INSEAD, just to name a few.
  • It just recently ran a Women’s Leadership Programme in collaboration with INSEAD.
  • The company’s ambition is to double the size of the business, whilst reducing the overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing positive social impact. 
  • It is committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling growth from environmental impact; read more about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/
     

 

Singapore Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, opened the facility 0n 28 June 2013, accompanied by Mr. Leo Yip, Chairman, Singapore Economic Development Board, Mr. Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive Officer, JTC Corporation, Mr. Manohar Khiatani, President and CEO, Ascendas and Mr. Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever.

 

In his speech, Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong commented “This Four Acres Campus is an example of how much emphasis good companies put on talent development. It is a reminder that countries too need to develop their people. It is true for all countries, whether you are big or small, whether you are resource-rich or resource-poor. Many countries are trying to do this, some better than others. They have developed schemes to expand their resource pool.

 

In Singapore, we have focused on this obsessively for a very long time. People are our only resource. We have made education, lifelong learning and talent development a national priority. While managers and top management need to keep themselves current in facilities such as Four Acres, so too, workers and rank-and-file must update themselves, and stay abreast of new technologies, new techniques, new ways of working, new ways they can keep themselves relevant and earn a living for themselves.

 

But in a globalised world, retaining and grooming talent is more important than ever. So we have to go further. We must develop every Singaporean child to his fullest potential, while giving those who start off with less every chance to level up. We have got to create more education pathways to nurture our students’ diverse strengths; whether it is sports, arts, whether it is Maths and Science, technology, whether you start off on one path and you want to divert to another, whether you are developing early or late. The possibilities must always be there to grow, to blossom, to develop your best.”

 

After the tour, the participants discussed the following Leadership topics and challenges in an interactive session:

  • Employee engagement should be measured regularly. Regular workshops and development courses help with employee engagement and retention.
  • Unilever has embraced agile working and agile offices for their employees in most of its locations and processes. Almost 48% of Unilever employees flex their hours or telecommute, while 73% compress their workweeks; Unilever also offers one of the most advanced maternity policies. 
  • Diversity is one of Unilever’s key values and has to date achieved an average of 43% Female workforce participation in middle management globally.
  • Issues such as Unconscious Bias are also addressed in their training programmes regularly.
  • Sustainability is another key area that Unilever focuses on. The entire facility was built with smart sustainable solutions.

 

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