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My career in Product Development – Anders Lillebo

Anders Lillebo

Anders Lillebo

Read about Anders' career in product development.

Tell us briefly about the job you do and in which company
I work as Senior Product Developer at Lilleborg, which is part of Orkla Home & Personal. My job in the Development Department is to develop home care products, more specifically laundry detergents (OMO powder), hand dishwashing detergents (Zalo and Sunlight) and household cleaning products such as Klorin, Salmi, Krystal, Svint and Jif WC-blokk and Jif drain cleaner products, etc. I am responsible for the formulation technology (content) for these products.

What is your educational background?
I have a master’s degree in Chemistry and Biotechnology (Sivilingeniør). First I took my bachelor‘s degree in Chemical Engineering at the Oslo and Akershus University College (HIOA), and then took my master’s at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) at Ås.

Tell us a little about yourself
I’m interested in sports, such as football, skiing, running and biking. I like to exercise, either at a fitness centre or outdoors. As a person I am enthusiastic, responsible, reliable and thorough and I collaborate well with other people.

Tell us about your career at Orkla, from day 1 to where you are today
I was hired by Lilleborg as a product developer in 2009 after finishing my studies. At that time, I worked with products like OMO, Blenda, Milo and Comfort. After a while, I became Senior Product Developer. I have recently been given new category areas and am now working with the products I mentioned in my first answer. I’ve worked in Lilleborg’s Development Department ever since I graduated, and have enjoyed my job there.

Why did you choose this career direction?
I thought it was exciting to be able to use my scientific and chemical engineering education to work with some of Norway’s best known brands in a company that has a long history and strong legacy.

Why did you want to work at Orkla?
Orkla is a reputable company with well-established traditions and is widely known and highly rated. The company has many of the best-known brands in Norway, and I thought it would be fun to work with brands that everyone in Norway can relate to. Furthermore, Orkla is a large Group, and offers a multitude of opportunities internally if you’re looking for new challenges in one of the many different companies.

What is a typical working day for you?
A product developer’s responsibilities are to:

  • Prepare testing and technical documentation for products and projects
  • Stay up-to-date on regulations
  • Stay abreast of market trends and news 
  • Evaluate raw materials to ensure that formulations are optimal in terms of effect, production, price and environment, health and safety
  • Produce and update safety data sheets and all other necessary documents related to products
  • Assure the quality of all product advertising
  • And much more :)

In the course of a typical working day, there is a lot of communication both internally and with external contacts, you attend meetings and work at your PC (for example on the above-mentioned tasks). As product developer, you also plan and arrange experiments, which are then carried out by the laboratory technicians (who usually do the experiments), or which you yourself can do. Most of my job is done at my PC, but I often have to spend some time in the laboratory, for instance mixing some new formulations or recipes for testing.

What does it take to succeed in your job?
You have to be proactive, inquiring, motivated and structured and to show initiative. You must also be able to juggle multiple projects and to work independently. We also do a lot of work in project teams, where we work with other functions in the company (marketing, finance, logistics, procurement, factories, etc.), so it’s important to have good collaboration skills.
What’s the best thing about your profession, and what, if anthing, do you dislike?
The best part about my job is that no two days are ever the same. You have a wide range of tasks, and the opportunity to work independently. What’s more, it’s always fun when we’ve launched new products that you and the other people in a project have helped to develop!

However, what I consider best can also be a challenge at times. Some days you’ve planned to do something specific, but are then forced to change your plans at short notice. These are often things that are urgent and have short deadlines. But, as I said before, this is exciting too!

Orkla’s new vision is “Your friend in everyday life”, supported by the values “Brave”, “Trustworthy” and “Inspiring”. How do you relate to the new vision and values in your job?
I feel that Orkla’s new values, which are brave, inspiring and trustworthy, are qualities that I can relate to in my day-to-day work. When we work on projects, we have to be brave and set our sights high for what we want to achieve so that we can deliver the best possible products to consumers. It’s also important to be a constant source of inspiration for one another in our everyday work, and that the products that we create provide everyday inspiration for consumers. Moreover, we use our professional expertise to create products and brands that are trustworthy.

Are there any special requirements for working in your profession (personality, academic qualifications, fields of study, etc.)?
To work as a product developer in Lilleborg’s Development Department (which consists of around 30 staff members), you have to have a minimum of a master’s degree in a scientific subject or a graduate engineering degree in fields such as chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, etc. You have to have good academic results. We also have many packaging developers in the department, and they must have at least a master’s in a field like industrial design or technical design.