Design Project Leader: Unilever
Caroline Brierley graduated from Loughborough University in 2012 with a degree in Product Design and Technology. After graduating, she soon went on to work for Unilever as a Packaging Designer, and has since worked her way up to become a Design Project Leader within the Refreshment Packaging Design Team. Here, Caroline tells us about her time on placement, getting into the design industry and the skills she gained at Loughborough University.
Whilst studying A-Level Art, Product Design and Maths I knew I wanted a career within a creative industry but was always interested in the logic and structural elements of design. The Product Design course at Loughborough University offered a variety of technical and creative modules giving the potential to develop a broad skill set. The calibre of students’ final year work also outshone work displayed by other universities and the year in industry would solidify employment potential post-graduation.
The core skills and awareness built during my time at the Design School has allowed me to adapt within the industry giving me ability to flex to the design task in hand i.e. from Design Project Management to carrying out Semiotic Design Codes Research.
What advice would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Make sure you have a solid and unique portfolio when scoping out work after university. If you are considering a placement year you should consider prospective employees based on what you want to do after university. Those connections you make early on in your design career can really help you when you graduate.
I work as Design Project Leader within Unilever Global Refreshment Packaging Design Team. I work closely with all functions of the business to manage the delivery of packaging design elements for ice cream and beverage products and devices. Brands include; PG Tips, Lipton, Pure Leaf, Magnum, Cornetto and Ben & Jerry’s.
The role gives potential to have great influence across a large brand portfolio and therefore holds a lot of great opportunities for global impact through new design innovation and renovation projects. I have also worked in Unilever’s Personal Care Category (Hair Care, Oral Care and Deodorants) which also holds the same global influence opportunity.
Working on the development of a capsule based tea machine under a new brand T.O By Lipton has been one of the most challenging yet exciting projects I have worked on. Understanding consumer’s behaviours and translating that user experience design for a device was extremely exciting.
Due to the incredible global reach of the company there is always something new to learn or to see. One day you can be working on a local UK tea brand and the next day on a regional Australian tea brand you have never seen before.
Did you do a placement year? If so where did you work and how did this experience assist you in your final year and your career since?
During my placement year I worked for Boots UK as a Packaging Technologist. Taking a year out to work within Boots was a fantastic way to help guide me toward the sort of career I wanted. The exposure I got during that year, seeing manufacturing plants, working with other FMCG companies and influencing changes to product mixes meant I had much more appreciation for how to design in the real world.
Ideally my goal would be to lead a design team in the next few years or alternatively move into Design Strategy; either agency side or within a global business like Unilever. I aim to move to branch out from packaging into other worldwide consumer goods.