I used to worry that not being a marketing graduate, nor of "classically trained" FMCG stock, could be a disadvantage in my career. But I was lucky that early on someone went with their gut instinct and gave me an entry-level position at Avon. I, too, rely on gut instinct and am an instinctive marketer. Having had the benefit of working with some great teams, I have learned to combine that instinct with the right amount of discipline and creativity to deliver some results I’m truly proud of.
There are still many rungs on the ladder for me yet, but here are a few things I’ve learned so far…
Be a boomerang.
I left Avon to broaden my experience and did exactly that. When I returned a few years later, I brought those experiences back with me and could apply them to greater effect as I had the benefit of understanding the Avon business and having a network in place.
"Small change, big impact. This is the mantra of Avon’s talent programme and it has served me well"
Know your customer better than anyone else.
It’s the greatest currency there is. Whether it be justifying your decisions or vying for resource internally, if you uniquely understand customers’ needs, you will succeed.
Yourself, your team, and the organisational and category norms. Constantly ask "What do we want to achieve?", then figure out the best way to do it. Don’t just accept the status quo. At Avon, we challenged the premise that products with a prestige price point are superior quality with our "More matte than Mac" lipstick launch. By starting with the objective of developing an ultra-matte lipstick that was comfortable to wear, our research and development team created the product in a totally new way and we made it affordable for everyone.
Small change, big impact.
This is the mantra of Avon’s talent programme and it has served me well. When faced with some of my most daunting challenges, such as turning around years of market-share decline, making one small change at a time could lead to a big impact.
Combine purpose and passion.
"Beauty for a purpose" is Avon’s brand statement, encompassing a commitment to high-quality products, creating an earnings opportunity for millions of women and building a network effect of empowered women empowering others. I feel passionate about what I do – whether it be helping women choose products that build their confidence or making it easier for our representatives to earn. Work for an organisation where you’re passionate about the purpose, and it won’t feel like work at all.
Be intentional… but open.
A piece of advice I received early in my career was to be intentional: enter every conversation and meeting knowing the outcome you want and how to achieve it. But, as careers progress, it’s important to know when to rely on the expertise of others.
Be an eagle.
Know when to have a strategic "bird’s-eye" overview and when to dive into the detail with precision. If you can do that, you can do anything.