Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch multinational
with operations in some 75 countries, is one of the world’s leading
transnationals. In this article, Unliver co-chairman, Floris A
Maljers provides an inside look at Unilever's evolution. Through all
the changes, many based on trial and error, the company has
maintained two consistent practices: developing high-quality
managers and linking decentralized units through the "Unileverization"
of those managers.
Many consider Unilever's managerial
recruitment and training policies to be the best in the world. The
company has a strong tradition of developing local talent in its
subsidiaries. At the same time, the head office also expects
managers to gain experience in more than one country or product
line. According to Maljers, a matrix is only as good as the people
in it. It can only work if everyone in the organization accepts and
supports its flexibility.