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Stepto the challenge up Job opportunities for all functions in Corporate Audit
“Corporate Audit plays a key role as a challenging partner in ensuring the very highest standards of corporate governance are adhered to by management.” Patrick Cescau, Group Chief Executive
“Unilever’s Corporate Audit function provides the Executive and the Board with quality assurance across all areas of the business which is much broader than I have experienced in my previous roles. I am impressed with the quality of their work and insights they bring, as well as their dedication to the development of their managers.” Jim Lawrence, Chief Financial Officer
“Apart from providing an excellent training in business, which I still find valuable to this day, my abiding recollection of Audit is the fun and camaraderie which came from working closely with colleagues from many countries and many functions – it was Unilever team working at its best!” Jeffrey Allgrove, SVP Global Transformation
to the Unilever Corporate Audit recruitment brochure Over the past few years, the role of Corporate Audit has evolved from one primarily focused on checking financial controls to one where we provide broad-based reassurance to the Board and the Audit Committee that risks are properly identified, assessed and mitigated throughout Unilever. This means that Corporate Audit conducts reviews not just in finance, but also across many other strategically important areas of Unilever. In recent years, we have conducted reviews in the areas of customer management, brand development and innovation, supply chain, implementation of corporate policies and major business change projects including Mountain/Sirius in Europe and the global HRT programme. And one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do is to see our recommendations being implemented in the business, and to see real tangible benefits accruing to Unilever as a result. Producing meaningful and insightful recommendations requires managers with expertise in these functions and this means that we need managers with a proven track-record in Customer Development, Marketing, Supply Chain, R&D, HR and IT, as well as Finance, to join our Audit teams around the world. Many of you may only have had a fleeting encounter with Corporate Audit – if at all – in your careers to date. It is to you this booklet is
primarily aimed. It explains Corporate Audit’s role and approach, how Audit relates to the businesses that we visit, and how a 2-3 year posting to Audit can be a really valuable part of your personal management development. It isn’t for everyone – the travel commitments in particular are demanding – but it is worthwhile. To quote a former Unilever Chairman: “Time in Audit provides a crash course in business”. Over many years in Unilever I have benefited from a great deal of advice and guidance from Corporate Audit. In turn I have always worked hard to encourage our best people to spend some time in Audit as I have recognised the benefit this gives to the business in addition to the personal development for the individual. Personally I benefited from time spent in Audit early in my career and I have no doubt this has contributed to my own personal development over the years and the confidence it gave me to take on many challenging positions in the company.
I have always worked hard to encourage our best people to spend some time in Audit as I have recognised the benefit this gives to the business in addition to the personal development for the individual
I hope you enjoy reading the brochure, and if you are interested in finding out more please make contact through your line manager or the Audit leadership in your region. Happy reading! Alan Johnson Chief Auditor
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
why audit is good for your career
Audit provides an unrivalled opportunity for personal development. Our auditors return to the business with sharpened analytical skills, enhanced core competencies, stronger knowledge of risk management and a greatly enhanced business understanding.
2 Exposure to Senior Management
The audit process involves frequent contact with senior management, providing an unrivalled opportunity to learn from and interact with some of the most experienced managers in Unilever. It also gives you the chance to expand your business network more widely.
Working in international teams 3
Mixing the very best people from across the globe and across all functions forges a great team spirit which underpins everything that we do.
Cross-functional understanding 4
Because we cover every market, company, function and category that Unilever operates in, Audit provides an opportunity to broaden your understanding of our company, its products, processes and customers.
Functional understanding in depth 5
Because we audit all business processes, Audit provides the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the way your â€˜homeâ€™ function works across the globe and the interactions it has with the other business areas.
a few reasons why audit may not be for you...
Every year we audit about 80 units across the globe, visiting more than 50 countries. Audit gives you the opportunity to travel across continents and be part of truly diverse multinational and multicultural teams.
The audit process involves regular contact with senior management, providing an unrivalled opportunity to interact with some of the most experienced managers in Unilever Nancy Sullivan, USA Audit Manager Customer Development Americas
Adding real value
We aim to identify potential good business practices during our audits, and then share them whenever we visit companies across the world. We also share the best practices with the functional academies. This is well received by the companies audited and helps share knowledge throughout Unilever.
The Code of Business Principles is scoped in all our unit audits, so auditors quickly become experts in the Code and how it should be implemented. As a core part of Unileverâ€™s governance, this will give you a good foundation as you progress through more senior levels of management.
We use a well-defined methodology to conduct our audits, which ensures our audit process is consistently applied across the globe. Many of the techniques and processes that we adopt will be useful when you return to your operating companies.
Our independence guarantees the integrity of our work, which is based on an objective and unbiased view of the facts. The Chief Auditor reports directly to the Group Chief Executive and to the Chairman of the Audit Committee, which comprises 4 non-executive directors of the Board. This allows you and the audit teams to exercise your judgement without undue pressure.
Time away from home Travel might broaden the mind, but for some people there is no place like home. Auditors have to be happy with extensive travel that can mean weekends away from home in some regions. Working in different teams Every audit involves a different team in a different environment. You have to be able to integrate quickly into new teams to make sure the audits proceed efficiently and make sure the job gets done. Analytical mindset Our reports are based on analysis of data, structured interviews and background reading. Auditors need to be able to digest information quickly, analyse it in a number of different ways and draw insightful conclusions, even if that means challenging the status quo. Tough feedback Sometimes our audit reports involve giving tough opinions. Presenting unpopular recommendations to senior management can be challenging but it is integral to delivering our independent opinion. Time management Audit fieldwork can be intensive, especially when following a line of enquiry which requires delving into past files and records. Yet our audits are finite in length and need to be completed on time, so you have to manage your schedule carefully.
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
Making the grade Now you know a little about what Corporate Audit could do for you. But what about the people that we’re looking for? We’re looking for people from all functions and regions across Unilever. But while our teams and people come from many different cultures, countries and career paths, there are some things that all successful candidates have in common. SO WHAT IS IT YOU NEED TO HAVE? Experience: You’ll be an ambitious manager with typically 6 to 8 years’ work experience and at least two management jobs under your belt. You’ll have a good track-record in your operating company, and a proven record of delivering top-quality work as part of a team. You’ll be able to demonstrate an ability to analyse a situation or process, usually but not always in your field of expertise, to work out what is being done well and what could be done better. You then need the self-confidence to propose a solution and the personal ability to get others to buy in to it. Standards of Leadership: We look for visible progress in the following Standards of Leadership: Global Mindset Real Accountability Action Not Debate Team Alignment Evidence of Strategic Influencing and Organisational Awareness are also helpful.
Functional background: A proven record of achievement in any business function: Brand Building, Brand Development, R&D, Customer Development, Finance, Supply Chain, HR, Legal, Communications and IT. General skills: Fact-based decision making Proven analytical skills – the ability to draw conclusions from complex information Well developed function-specific skills according to your professional background. Personal: Professional attitude Inquisitiveness Self-confident integrity Courage Resilience Languages: Excellent spoken and written English. Other languages are an advantage and, depending on the region, may be a prerequisite.
The audit process involves regular contact with senior management, providing an unrivalled opportunity to interact with some of the most experienced managers in Unilever
From left to right Caroline Wullrich, Sweden Audit Director Finance Americas Bernie Conyers, USA Audit Manager Supply Chain Americas
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
From left to right Mennat Allah Sharkas, Egypt Audit Manager Customer Development AsiaAMET Banjo Castillo, Philippines Audit Manager Customer Development AsiaAMET Veronica Rubio, Mexico Audit Manager Finance Americas
“You don’t simply follow a checklist and tick the boxes” Current and former team members reveal what it’s really like to work in Corporate Audit The Audit Plan We adopt a two-step approach to defining our audit plan. The aim is to identify the major risks facing Unilever, and by analysing this to define the areas Audit will focus on in the next 12-18 months. The first step is to review the risks for each function in the business. We hold ‘knowledge network’ meetings where auditors with a background in each function meet with the leadership of that function. “The aim is to get a real in-depth understanding of the risks and issues facing – say – HR,” says Ajay Adlakha, Audit Director for the HR knowledge network. We then prioritise the risks to create a shortlist of potential areas for Audit to review in the following year. The Audit Leadership Group then chooses typically 3 or 4 themes to review in depth. In recent years Audit has undertaken reviews of Innovation Management, Pricing Excellence, S&OP and Customer Service Excellence. The second step is the ‘Unit Risk Profiling’, or URP, exercise. All business units – countries, MCOs, categories, pension funds, corporate centre departments and major projects – are assessed by the entire regional/category team and assigned a ‘risk rating’. Those with the highest ratings are proposed for an audit visit in the following year. “You have to take inputs from many different sources,” said Adrian Litmanovich, VP of Audit in the Americas. “We talk to the leadership of the units. We look at how the business unit has performed, whether it regularly hits its plan, the stability of management and whether change
projects have been implemented well. We also look at the external environment – is the trade consolidating, for example, or has the economy had an impact on the business. The more robust the URP, the more robust our Audit plan.” By September, the two steps are merged together into the Annual Audit Plan, which is agreed with the Unilever Executive and approved by the Audit Committee in October. This is the starting point for preparing detailed plans which define which auditors will visit which units and when. In a rapidly changing environment it’s important to be flexible, so the regional plans are updated throughout the year. The initial visit The audit process starts with the Audit Director taking one or two members of the team to visit the unit to interview senior management and carry out some basic testing – the Unit Risk Assessment. Based on the outcome of these discussions and tests, we define the detailed scope for the audit, agree this with management and issue the Audit Scope Document. This is all done 6-8 weeks before the formal audit fieldwork starts.
The Annual Audit Plan is the starting point for preparing plans which detail which auditors will visit which units and when. In a rapidly changing environment it’s important to be flexible, so the regional plans are updated throughout the year
The actual Audit – described as ‘fieldwork’ – usually takes from three to four weeks, most of which will be based in the unit’s headquarters with the team staying in the same hotel and spending most evenings together as a group. In Europe it’s possible for Auditors to go home at the weekend, but in Asia, Africa and the Americas this is not always practical.
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
This lifestyle suits those who like to experience new cultures and absorb different working environments. Nicolas Cochet, an Audit Manager in Europe, said: “I’ve seen Carmen at the Opera House in Budapest, a pop concert in Prague and football league matches in other European cities; for me the chance to travel has been fantastic.” In the field At the start of the fieldwork, the processes to be covered will be allocated to different members of the team to ensure the right mix of expertise. Some will work in areas they are familiar with; others will be developing themselves in new areas. This opportunity for personal development is, for many, the prime motivation for joining Audit. David Addesse, an Auditor Manager in the Americas, said: “This is what really makes the job interesting. It gives you opportunities you wouldn’t
direct you,” said Claire Connolly, an Audit Manager in Europe. “Within the team there will usually be a specialist from each area and there is a constant exchange of knowledge.” Auditors also have Audit Guides to help structure the analysis and ensure consistency across the globe. These contain lists of questions and testing regimes to ensure that all the risks in the area being audited are covered. “But you don’t simply follow a checklist and tick the boxes,” said CM Murugunand, an Audit Manager in Asia. “You will have to present your opinions to the management and you can only persuade them to accept those opinions if you can demonstrate you know what you are talking about.” Findings and Recommendations Findings are documented in working papers and discussed by the whole audit team before
You need to develop a deep understanding of the business, because you will have to present your opinions to the management and you can only persuade them to accept those opinions if you can demonstrate you know what you are talking about get in any other part of the business.” Ideally, you will start by auditing an area within your expertise, but if you want to acquire new skills you need to put yourself forward. Auditors begin by identifying from the meetings with the local managers what information they will need to do the Audit. “These interviews can be quite challenging but they are a two-way process for us to understand from management what controls are in place and how they are expected to work,” said Banjo Castillo, Audit Manager in Asia.
being presented to the management. If you have unearthed potential weaknesses in the business, your role as Auditor will be to convince the management that there is a problem and get them to accept your recommendations.
Auditors then analyse the data over several weeks. But there’s no danger that you’ll be cut loose and left to drift. A buddying system ensures that newcomers are coached by experienced members of the team for at least their first two audits.
“Sometimes these discussions go very well and are finished in less than an hour, but I have been to some that have lasted for many hours,” said Waqar Kazi, Audit Director in Africa/Middle East. One of the most rewarding aspects of Audit is when you find an example of good practice. “It’s usually quite obvious,” said Gerry Hepburn, “and you usually think ‘Wow, this is a great example.’ When we find good practices, we highlight them and pass them on to the functional Academy to share globally. We also take responsibility for sharing them with management at subsequent audits.”
“You work very closely within your team. Your colleagues with more experience in Audit help
At the close of the audit, the unit commits to implementing the team’s recommendations
within an agreed timeframe. In exceptional circumstances, urgent remedial action will be agreed with management. “It’s sometimes a challenge to get agreement from managers on how their business is going to progress into the future,” said Stokes Moore, former Audit Director in North America. “Every month you’re trying to sell a different solution to a different management team and it is rewarding to gain their commitment to recommendations that will help their business.”
Presenting the results The last part of the process is to agree an overall audit opinion for the unit. Most units come out “satisfactory”, which indicates that their processes are at an acceptable standard and well controlled. Delivering a “seriously deficient” opinion can be tough, but it will usually be accepted if it is well presented, says Stuart Hill, Audit Manager for Europe: “If you have well-documented facts to support your findings it will be easier to justify the opinion to management. It all depends on your material.” Six months after the Audit, the unit head must report back through their Regional or Category Line on progress made in implementing the agreed actions. “When you see that you have helped to effect a change for the better, it gives you a big sense of satisfaction,” said Peter Vinnai, Audit Manager for Europe. “In a big company you might feel your opinion doesn’t count but being in Corporate Audit is an opportunity to get your voice heard.”
An opportunity for you to go far
Travel is a fundamental part of life for our Auditors, who can spend up to 70 per cent of their time away from home, providing both opportunities and challenges for our teams. Business travel isn’t always glamorous: the reality can involve working long hours in demanding environments, and extended periods away from friends and family. But the chance to experience new cultures is a valuable part of the development path that a role in Audit offers. And because every member of an Audit team is in the same situation, a strong team spirit unites individuals drawn from different backgrounds with different areas of expertise. “Because we are all foreign to the country we’re in, we quickly develop a bond,” said Sandrine Conseiller, Audit Director Marketing AsiaAMET. “You become friends rather than colleagues ... it’s been one of the best experiences of my Unilever career.”
From left to right Dunke Afe, Nigeria Audit Manager Marketing Europe Simone Casaglia, Italy Audit Manager Finance Europe
The ability to adapt quickly is another key skill for a successful Auditor. “Every month you are working in a different country with a different company with different cultures,” explained Audit Manager Vladimir Badic. “It’s really diverse. Seeing so many companies being managed in different ways has been demanding but very rewarding.”
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
Knowledge Got lots of questions? Here are some answers to the ones we get asked most frequently The skills and experience you gain during Audit will be well recognised and most auditors get offered a bigger role offering greater responsibility than the one they left behind
I thought Corporate Audit is just for people who work in finance? Absolutely not! Auditing financial reports and accounts is the responsibility of our external auditors, PwC. Corporate Audit provides independent reassurance that ALL risks are being properly identified and managed across the whole of Unilever. To give a few examples, over the past few years we have reviewed (amongst others) Innovation, Pricing, Third Party manufacturing, HR Transformation, Supply Management and Trade Terms Management. So we’re looking for talented individuals from all functions and regions to help us do the job.
As the “internal police” of Unilever, don’t you face a lot of resistance from local management? First of all - we’re not the internal police! It’s not our role to investigate or to catch people out, and we don’t work for the management. We’re there to help local management do their jobs more effectively and efficiently by offering an independent, fact-based analysis of their processes and practices, offering recommendations and sharing best practice that we’ve found elsewhere. And the standards and policies against which we’re auditing are set and agreed by the business, not by Audit.
I heard that Audit’s all about bureaucracy, rules and policies – isn’t the work boring? Like any business function, a well-defined methodology helps us to guarantee the consistency and quality of our work. Risk management in its broadest sense doesn’t mean not taking risks – merely that the risks Unilever chooses to take are properly assessed, understood and controlled. This requires a firstclass understanding of each functional area – be it finance, marketing, IT, HR, etc. – after which we hold discussions with the functional teams at all levels of management. It’s definitely not boring!
What should I do if my line manager doesn’t see Audit as a valuable career step for me? We hope that this booklet goes some way to explaining the valuable development opportunities a role in Audit brings to managers from all functions in Unilever. If you’d like to know more, we’d be pleased to meet you and your manager for a personal chat to see how a posting to Audit can help you in your management development.
How much time would I be away from home? Travel is a fundamental part of life as an auditor. The exact balance depends on the region you work in, but on average you might expect to spend between 50 and 70 per cent of your work time on the road. We take work-life balance seriously and help you develop techniques for managing your time with the least disruption while delivering the requirements of the job. Will I have to move house to be based near my local Corporate Audit office? There’s no one answer that fits all countries and regions. It doesn’t always make sense to move your family – especially if it’s easy to travel home at weekends. But if you are permanently based in a new country or region, then it may make sense for your family to move with you. We aim to provide as much flexibility as possible for auditors to work from home, using the latest technology, or from your nearest company office. What happens after my role in Audit is over? It’s important that your posting to Audit is recognised as a valuable part of your overall personal development, so we discuss this with you and your line manager before you join, which means that a re-entry after two or three years is already in the company’s forward HR planning. We encourage you to maintain contact with your home company, and as the time to return approaches we will discuss with you and your company to agree the timing of the move. The skills and experience you gain during Audit will be well recognised and the vast majority of auditors get offered a bigger role offering greater responsibility than the one they left behind. In fact, you may have more than one job offer from a number of sources!
So what happens next? In the first instance, find out more from your line manager or local Finance Director, or check out our portal: i.unilever.com/audit. You might also find it useful to arrange an informal chat with an auditor, or someone who used to work in Audit – you’ll be surprised how many senior managers in Unilever have had an Audit role in their past. Your HR department will help you find someone to talk to. If you have any specific questions, you can contact the HR Business Partner for Corporate Audit in London. You should also keep an eye out for Open Job Postings – there are usually a couple of opportunities being advertised in Corporate Audit at any one time. And finally, as with any job opportunity, please keep your line manager and local HR department informed of your intentions, as a move into Audit must be an integral part of an agreed development plan. Good luck! 13
Unilever: Guide to Corporate Audit
We grill a current team member about his time as an Auditor
I’ve never had a job before that has given me such variety of experience and such an overview of the business
Is there such a thing as a standard day in audit? There are certainly things about my days that are common but also things that are wildly different. Waking up in a hotel is a fairly consistent theme, but as for which hotel and which city … in the last 12 months alone I’ve woken up in Paris, Brussels, Sydney, Mumbai, Budapest, Hamburg, Durban, Rotterdam and Rome, which is variety that you either love or hate. I love it. So what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced? For me it’s finding an everyday routine whilst being away from home. After piling on the kilos in my first few audits, I’ve managed to develop the mental discipline to avoid cooked breakfasts and eating any meals on planes for that matter. They just seem to become extra meals in the day rather than substituting for what I would have eaten anyway. I hear that there’s a lot of camaraderie in Audit. My team mates inevitably end up having a laugh and a joke over lunch (and breakfast, dinner…), or hotly debating any one of a number of topics such as what Unilever needs to do better in the future to be more competitive. I’m sure you’ll hear from many who’ve been through Audit talk about the team ethic, but it really is true and because you spend so much time away from friends and loved ones, you do rely on your colleagues at a number of levels. Are there other upsides? I’ve never had a job before that has given me such variety of experience and such an overview of
the business. I’ve audited corporate governance, marketing, customer management, pensions, tax, finance, innovation effectiveness, HRT, people management and Foodsolutions. Seeing both good and bad examples of business processes will make me a better manager when I face similar problems in future roles. Possibly the biggest positive is the opportunity to be part of a great multinational team. I also love the travel and I try to spend at least one weekend in the audit location and have had some truly memorable experiences, such as visiting the Taj Mahal. How much real responsibility do you get at audits? As a more experienced member of the team I have performed the role of a ‘buddy’ which helps bring new joiners up to speed on the area they’re auditing and the audit process. This is a great people development opportunity which helps compensate for having no formal line management responsibilities. The other key role is that of Team Leader, where you’re responsible for maintaining the relationship with management and delivering the outputs of the audit on time in full. As Team Leader you are also responsible for coaching, supporting and challenging the team. So to finish, what has been your best day in Audit, from a professional perspective? I’ve had many great days but the best would have to be issuing the final report for the 2007 global review of Innovation Management. It was the culmination of a year’s work across the global audit team and I felt the recommendations we made will really make a difference to the quality of Unilever’s innovation process.
“As Chair of the Audit Committee I am primarily concerned that controls in financial reporting are robust and that risk management across the business is effective. In a company such as Unilever, controls in the operational processes, such as supply chain, marketing, HR and customer development, are equally important as these processes underpin our competitiveness and thus secure future profitable growth. In my experience the breadth of Corporate Audit’s work is almost unique amongst internal audit departments, and is something I value greatly.” Kees Storm, Chairman of Audit Committee
“With a career in finance, I have always regretted not having passed through Corporate Audit. It is clear to me that having an opportunity to peep in so many different kitchens so early in your career must make you into a better chef!” Frank Braeken, Group Vice President, China Group
“It’s a real opportunity to exert influence with senior management that you wouldn’t otherwise have.” Mark Smith, SVP Finance, Asia/AMET