Rising up the career ladder
"After the SEP I was given extended responsibility for four extra markets. This year I’ve been made General Manager for South Eastern Europe, which covers five countries including Romania where Avon is the market leader and which is one of our top 20 countries globally. So I’m covering a bigger slice of the business with bigger exposure to the global picture and things are moving in the right direction for me.
The programme gave me a different perspective of leadership. It’s about how you can be relevant in your organisation, how you can create value and give purpose. Becoming a leader is not a process with a start and end point; it is an ongoing journey that never ends.
The SEP also helped me to put things into context and look through the lens of the different stakeholders. If something seems tough from a local perspective, it helps if I put myself in the bigger shoes of the global organisation. Then it’s about dealing with complexity and being relevant for consumers, employees and investors. So it’s about how to make consumers choose you, how to keep employees motivated and inspired in a very dynamic labour market, while creating value for investors that is profitable and long-term sustainable. We got good tools from the programme to help us navigate this.
There are a lot of ideas I use that came from the programme. The way I do strategy now is very different to how I did it before the programme. First it’s about the fundamentals of creating something relevant for consumers that is hard to copy and makes you unique from competitors. That is the starting point. Then there is a set of questions to be addressed in a certain sequence that can help you build your strategy. And then it’s about how to execute it as many good strategies die because they are not well executed.
I remember a group exercise where we were put into teams of managers and employees to simulate a company going through a crisis. It was very revealing how a lack of communication with the lower levels of the organisation led to conflict that would have been easy to avoid if there had been communication from the early stages. We were given easy methods that can help you check if your organisation supports your strategy.
Everything I learned on the programme seems to become ever more relevant because competition in the cosmetic industry has increased significantly and you need to move fast, think digital and have a very strong consumer-centred strategy.
There was a very strong guest speaker who was connected with Silicon Valley and had a very entrepreneurial mindset. He opened our eyes to the direction the digital world is moving and I am currently navigating this in my own organisation.
I also came back with a big desire to stimulate the organisation in coming up with new ideas. I sponsored a project to help develop a process and an environment to help ideas grow. We created a platform to encourage people to share their ideas, empowered lower level managers to approve them quickly and the number of ideas that were created and scaled up increased significantly."