Keeping good company
13 April 2010
UTS has teamed up with major manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Australia (KCA) to collaborate on original research and real-world teaching and learning. KCA’s General Manager – Strategic Innovation, Linda Watts, and Baby Care’s Assistant Brand Manager and UTS Business graduate, Gabrielle Davidson, talk to U: about what the partnership looks like in practice.
Gabrielle Davidson and Linda Watts
I graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Business – I majored in Marketing and Economics. After graduating I got a job with Kimberly-Clark. I now work across the Huggies and Snugglers brands in nappies and infant care. I actually sit within quite a large team, working on the biggest brand that Kimberly-Clark has. It’s been really, really exciting. I’ve been in the role for a year now, and prior to that I was in the graduate rotation program.
It’s loosely based around a year rotation, and what it entails is spending a bit of time in other divisions or other functions that are relevant to marketing. I think we’re really lucky because it gives you experience and understanding of what happens in the different divisions and how they interlock with marketing, because marketing is such a key role in the business. The graduate rotation also gave me the opportunity to build networks, contacts and friendships, And it’s not just about meeting people, when you actually work with them you develop an understanding and it makes it a lot easier when you’re starting out because you can call on your contacts.
The thing about marketing is that you get to do a lot of different and diverse things every day. I get to manage projects by myself like major consumer promotions for the brand, managing budgets, consumer launches, and retailer engagement. One big project at the moment is an experiential project called the Huggies Lounge. It’s really interesting and it’s about taking the brand into the community and interacting with mums and bubs through a tour of shopping centres. It’s a really big thing for us, and a first of its kind.
I always knew I wanted to work in fast moving consumer goods marketing. I hadn’t really had that much exposure to Kimberly-Clark, but the thing that really drew me to them was my first interview here – it really affected me. The people were amazing. I remember walking out from the interview and calling my mum up and saying: ‘This is where I want to work.’ I think that’s the thing that makes the difference – it’s such a team environment and I feel really comfortable and supported.
I think studying at UTS set me up for the type of work I’m doing now. I remember, especially in the last couple of years of my degree, getting case studies (which we hated at the time) and writing marketing plans meant that we were able to work on something real and practical. But that was the good thing about my UTS Business degree – it’s more practical than other unis, and it’s definitely put me in good stead. All my lecturers were great and I really enjoyed my uni years.
I think you can do all the theory in the world, but until you have a real example or a real case to work on, it doesn’t really come alive. You learn so much more and everything just becomes a lot more interesting because you have this deeper understanding. I think it’s great that Kimberly-Clark is getting UTS students involved in solving business issues. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of talent out of it. But as far as students getting some real work experience, putting learning into practice can only ever be a positive thing!
At Kimberly-Clark, our definition of innovation is: ‘change that creates value’. We try and reinforce that by working with employees and external people who share that definition. That’s one of the reasons we decided to partner with UTS. We’d had a history of thinking Kimberly-Clark had all the answers internally, but then shifted our thinking and decided we could engage people outside the business too. One of the areas we went to find fresh innovation was universities.
Some universities are better than others at dealing with potential commercial partners. UTS does really well at it. Gauri Bhalla from External Engagement managed to define what we were talking about and how to put it in a partnership document so we could take action. I think without her we would have found it challenging to take it from an idea to something that is practical and useful.
Innovation is not just about ideas – almost anyone can come up with an idea – the trick is to work out a commercial way of implementing it. Everything through recruitment to research is included in the partnership we have with UTS. One of the things to come from it is that we’ve had more graduate applications from UTS. Quite a few students have contacted me to say they want to work with Kimberly-Clark and I’ve put them in touch with the HR person doing the relevant graduate rotation program.
We’ve been doing the marketing graduate rotation for over six years now, and it really works. Some companies get graduates to do odd jobs, nothing meaty. What’s different about our approach is we say to the department taking the grad: ‘look, you need to think about how best to use this resource’. So when graduates arrive they’re given a proper brief: here’s what you’ll be working on, here’s how you might think about it, and here’s what we expect you to deliver.
We’ve also developed a specific marketing program with the UTS Faculty of Business. We wanted access to bright young minds who could work on business issues that needed fresh, innovative thinking.
We selected four business issues suitable for students to work on and fitted them into the marketing courses. At the end of the semester we sent a KCA panel to the last classes so they could hear the top presentations and judge the winners for the eight cash prizes we gave out.
The students are thrilled to be working on a real-life case study as opposed to something out of a text book. The winners also got the opportunity to present to our senior leaders at Kimberly-Clark. The program has been so successful we’re doing it again this year.
Marketing and Communication Unit
Photographer: Fiona Livy
In March, Kimberly-Clark Australia hired Public Communications graduate and Master of Business in Marketing student, Angela Yoo on a 6-month part-time contract. The position of Communications Coordinator was offered to Angela after she impressed management at a presentation evening of marketing case studies held at Kimberly-Clark’s head office. Students presented on four key issues affecting the company as part of their Marketing degree.