- Programme: Senior Executive Programme
- Nationality: Romanian
- Job Post-programme: General Manager, Slavacs and Nordics, Avon
Key steps in a beautiful career
Andreea Moldovan had never heard of the international cosmetics company Avon when she first applied for a job with them in her native Transylvania in 1998. She was simply carrying out the wishes of her “non-conformist boss” at a local media agency who told her and her colleagues that if they were going to sell anything they first had to learn how to sell themselves.
But his plan of making them all apply for jobs and go along to interviews for sales practice, backfired when Moldovan was so taken by Avon’s interviewers – and their product portfolio – that she jumped ship, and never looked back.
Nearly 20 years on she is Avon’s General Manager Slavics and Nordics leading sales in six countries from her base in Prague in the Czech Republic. Her career with the company has included a three-year stint as National Sales Director for Morocco based in Casablanca, and a post as Executive Sales Director for Central and Eastern Europe which saw her based in Bucharest and travelling across 23 markets including Russia and Ukraine.
And while she’s had plenty of opportunities to join other companies it’s the ethos of Avon that she loves and the way it’s “social selling” approach can give women a chance to earn their own income.
“I love the fact that I have the opportunity to do more than business in this job,” says Moldovan, who champions gender equality and the contribution women can make to organisations. “It is a company that is empowering women to progress and make the best of themselves.
“There are stories which bring me to tears, of women who felt helpless and lost in life, women who were struggling to get out from difficult situations in their families and were stuck there for financial reasons, and we have given them hope by helping them to become independent financially.”
Avon is facing tough competition internationally in the face of online sales but it is a top player in many markets including Romania where it is currently the major beauty company with the highest market share. Moldovan is proud of the company’s efforts to raise money for breast cancer treatment. This year the Czech Republic had the biggest Avon walk in the world with 28,000 people turning out and raising some $350,000 for NGOs fighting breast cancer.
Stretching the mind
It was in 2012 that Moldovan got her first job as a general manager with the company and her boss suggested she take the Accelerated Development Programme at London Business School. It was another thing to juggle in a career that had taken her to three countries in ten years with three young children in tow. And as a single mother today, Moldovan credits the help her parents have given her so that she can spend around 30 per cent of her time travelling for work and still plan her time with her children.
But after 14 years in the beauty business Moldovan relished the chance to interact with classmates from other industries such as oil, construction and automotive, and different cultures. She was also thrilled by the exposure to ideas. “In my job I read quite a lot but you are not having this “full time stop” where you are just stretching your mind and learning and learning,” says Moldovan who has a degree in Economics and Computer Science Applied in Economics from Romania’s largest university, Babeș-Bolyai.
“When I finished the ADP I had a big desire to do more as it was such a great experience. I felt like I came transformed from there.”
Moldovan went back to work with 12 copies of Professor Dan Cable’s book Change to Strange to give to her whole management team. She also used Professor Nader Tavassoli’s insights into brand building to set up and execute Avon’s “Beauty for a Purpose” campaign in her region.
She also went on to apply for a scholarship supported by the 30% Club to pay for one woman to take the School’s Senior Executive Programme. The 30% Club is an organisation which started in 2010 with the goal of achieving a minimum of 30 per cent women on FTSE-100 boards. Moldovan was awarded the scholarship and brought her own experience of female representation from Avon where around 70 per cent of managers and 46 per cent of the board are women.
Moldovan was thrilled to return to LBS and found the course gave her a new set of friends. “We became very close. If I have an issue I know I can go to them and ask for support and advice,” she says. The classmates have formed a WhatsApp group and post nearly ever day. They’ve had three reunions in Dubai, Turkey and the UK and Moldovan is organising the next one in Prague.
Do things you love
“I never planned my career and I never thought I would get to where I am today, but things are moving in the right direction for me,” says Moldovan who is currently mentoring two women in their early 30s from the legal profession through a scheme sponsored by the British Chamber of Commerce.
“I was very shy when I started out and things happened to help me build this self confidence and become stronger and more courageous,” she adds.
“My parents give me a lot of love and support and have always encouraged me to do the things I love, to follow my heart. And if you do things you love then you succeed.”