Fleur Verbeek is Interim Brand Manager with Unilever, where she is currently working on the launch of ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’ in Belgium. The past decade she led various projects within the venture. To her, it means more than just a job. Thanks to her wide experience and strong connection with the company’s philosophy, not only can she provide optimal guidance to brands, but change the world in a small way in the process.
Graduated and… emigrated
A Dutchwoman, Fleur studied Business Administration and Finance & Investments in Rotterdam. Different from many of her fellow students she left for South America immediately after graduation. Together with her then-boyfriend, she went to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Soon she was hired by Unilever and got to know not only the language but the local culture as well. This appeared to differ strongly from the one of The Netherlands, though she noticed people opened themselves up to her once she got to know them more. Unilever’s company culture was a different matter. Whether you work in an Argentinian or a Dutch branch of the company, the philosophy and approach remain largely the same. Employees are granted a lot of responsibility and everyone gets included. Because of the scale of the company, a great deal of internal mobility is possible.
Yet Fleur thinks youths today sometimes pick change too quickly. “Continuity is overrated. Usually, it takes a couple of years to get yourself familiarised with a brand or market in any meaningful sense. When you move on to something else after just a short period, plenty of valuable knowledge and experience gets lost. To grow within your job is just as important as growing towards a higher position within the company.”
Detour in the world of horses
A couple of years ago Fleur accepted an offer from Stephex, a world player in horse trucks, racehorses, and equestrian events. As Chief Commercial Officer Fleur was asked to implement more structure in the areas of marketing and sales.
Fleur: “It was an intriguing experience, especially because I am active in horse-riding myself and could make a profession out of my hobby. Eventually, I opted for a new challenge with Unilever. The company feels like a second home to me.” The flexibility and trust within Unilever also appeal to her. Currently, she works through a temporary assignment in which she chooses how to organize that time. Working from home, flexible working hours,… all these are possible at Unilever, as long as results are not lost sight of.
Now she is active within the company as self-employed Interim Brand Manager, she feels she can develop herself even more. “As someone who is self-employed, you can speak more freely and dare questioning things faster. That authenticity is appreciated.” About 3W Fleur can’t be more enthused. “Everything is handled smoothly and with a human touch. No hassle, that way I can focus on my job to the fullest.”
Aiming for a better world
Unique to Unilever is the genuine striving for a better world. “You can’t just brush off consumers, so we think very carefully about how we broach the subject to them. We do witness a change in societal consciousness. More people want to live more responsibly. When you as a company can provide solutions to this, it gives a good feeling.”
A nice example of this is her current project, the launch of the Dutch brand ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’ in Belgium. The Vegetarian Butcher is producing the new meat; made without animals. Rolling out this brand in the whole of Europe, and allowing consumers to eat less meat in an easy and especially delicious way, is an ambitious enterprise. But that vision and ambition are exactly what typifies Unilever. “Fake does not exist at Unilever. Here everyone can be as they are and everything we do, we mean.”