Unilever - Sub-Sahara Africa Talent reservoir 2013 – 2014


Competition for talent in Africa is now fierce with a considerable number of global FMCG groups now focusing on increasing the bench strength of local and regional talent for the present and future. In addition organisations are keen to identify regional talent that possesses highly desirable mature market experience as opposed to an over reliance on expatriate talent. Specific demographics are also being targeted to address specific diversity ratios/agendas.


Sub-Saharan Africa is a high commercial growth focus for Unilever and it was recognized that there was a strategic need to increase the size of the Management Reservoir within it. We were asked to conduct a talent map across both regions and targeting both Director level talent, as well as high potential managers, for positions of:

  • Country Manager, General Manager, Commercial Director
  • Commercial Functional Directors, Marketing, Sales, Trade & Distribution Managers

Parameters of search:

Nationality: Talent Pool One: SSA Nationals (Priority: South Africans, Kenyans and Nigerians. Secondary: Ghanaians, Ivorian’s, Congolese & Angolan)
Talent Pool Two: Of high interest was identifying talent currently overseas, or professionals with previous mature market experience. Western European & US returning talent is of particular interest given the volume of relevant professionals in these markets
Sectors: Commercial talent with ‘like for like’ category experience in Global FMCG gps.
Functions: Marketing (Consumer & Trade, Insights, Digital, Innovation);
Commercial expertise (Sales, Trade, Distribution management, RTM, BD);
General: Potential to grow 2+ steps in the organization within 10 years; Entrepreneurial, with ability to manage complexity; ability to work “on the ground” and in large and small businesses with limited resources; Ability to operate in the uncertain environment; Motivated to develop their careers in other AME countries.
Levels: Grades 2c – 4 inclusive.


Total candidates pooled:

Q1 Sub Saharan Africa: 37 Marketing & 19 Sales
Q2 Sub Saharan Africa: 35 Marketing & 30 Sales
Q3 Sub Saharan Africa: 20 Marketing & 19 Sales

Proactive interviewing of selected profiles took place throughout the talent pooling initiative. This was driven by either immediate requirements, generic talent upgrading or instances where a very specific or unique talent had been identified.

Marketing: Sub-Saharan Africa: 7
Sales: Sub-Saharan Africa: 5
GM: Sub-Saharan Africa: 1