A Dream of One’s Own: Discover Carlos’ L’Oréal Great Story
Born and raised in rural Spain, Carlos took the bold decision to leave the stable and certain path of his veterinary studies to follow his passion for marketing in Paris. Inspired by beauty and storytelling, he carved his very own path with the goal of creating dreams. From a young boy with ambitions to a creative marketer working for top luxury brands, read Carlos’ #L’OréalGreatStory to find out about his unconventional professional journey.
Carlos, how would you introduce yourself to someone you just met?
Well, I always start being proud of where I come from. I was born in Spain but I suppose the hint of “Sofia Vergara” in my accent always reveals my origins and a little bit of my personality: outgoing, optimistic and (I have to recognize) sometimes a little loud too.
I usually then say that I’ve been based in Paris since 2015 and have been working in the luxury sector since then, but my career plot twist is that I started as a veterinarian. Five years of veterinary school can be very hard but for sure rich in experiences because I had the chance to study in 3 amazing cities: Zaragoza, Madrid, and Paris.
I soon realized after trying a variety of clinics; pets, horses and even farming animals… that I always wanted to work in marketing. So today working at L’Oréal within the Lancôme family is exhilarating as I can create fragrance stories to make people dream which I believe is something precious.
I guess that’s a bit of a long way to introduce myself… but as you can already see, I’m passionate about storytelling!
Can you tell us how you became what you always wanted to be professionally? What were the main steps?
I come from a very small village in Spain. My whole family comes from there, a rural farming area. So, I suppose that by sort of a default, I had to become a veterinarian.
In rural areas, the vet is this person that arrives at the farm and most of the time, is the person who saves people’s problems. They have a great impact, and they are very useful for families. They are professionals with a high image, who are respected for their knowledge. Therefore, from the very beginning, my family was proud of the idea of me becoming a vet: “you will become a vet” they used to say. So, I guess it stuck into my mind for a long time.
After high school finished, I literally couldn’t think of anything else until one day my father told me “Carlos, it’s funny how you have been focused on veterinary sciences and animals since you were five years old, but I have the impression that you like to read about companies, campaigns, etc. It’s kind of odd for a veterinarian, isn’t it? Are you sure you want to do that?”.
That’s when it hit me, and I thought “maybe not” but I had two days left to do my college application so no time to think at all!
The first year of vet school was very hard; anatomy, biochemistry… but I was telling myself “Don’t worry Carlos it’ll get better; this is only the first year”. The second year kept on getting (of course) harder and even if my grades were quite good, I started thinking more about change and I knowing that I probably had to do it quickly.
During my studies I was staying at a fraternity, and there were professionals from different backgrounds coming in as speakers. So even though I was studying to become a vet, all these conferences awakened in me the rush on following my dream of working in creative marketing.
When the third year arrived, and I was thinking “OK, this is the year in which I have to know if I quit veterinary school and do something else or not”.
I ended up “complexifying” even more my student life by joining a remote business degree. This year was the craziest for me; I was doing veterinary school full time, and in the evenings, I did my business courses. Learnings from this year? “Never compromise on your personal life even if you have ambitions.”
Suddenly, a teacher reached out to me and asked “Carlos, next year, would you like to do an exchange?”. I immediately said YES. I was eager to discover new cultures and countries, so I told them, “Let’s go to the US!”. My teacher said, “are you sure?’ And she suggested France. But Why France? However, I happily agreed when I knew the exchange would be happening in Paris! (Little did they know… it was because I was finally going to be closer to the universe of fashion and luxury.) So, my fourth year happened in Paris. What a beauty, what an ambiance! It was dreamy. Suddenly I realized I had one year left to finish my degree! So even if my final year of veterinary school was in Madrid, I knew I had to get back to Paris to work on what I really wanted to.
So, did you finished your veterinary degree after all?
Yes! I made the decision to finish my degree even though I knew I wanted to do something else. At the beginning, I was a little anxious about the idea of having a useless degree for what I wanted to work in the end. However, I now realize how important it was/is for me to have this degree because it gave me good diagnosis skills and helped me being pragmatic without countless amazing experiences that made me grow on the professional I am today.
Spoiler alert, now you work at L’Oréal, but where did you start?
My first job was an internship at Pfizer! (I guess you know this name quite well now) but my first real job was at a pharmaceutical company in Spain, Hipra. It was a great job! I had the opportunity to travel all around the world. As a marketing technical manager, I was able to launch vaccines in Europe, Latin America, Northern Africa, and Canada. I was planning on staying only one year at this company, but it was so rich in experiences that I ended up staying 3.5 years!
Still, marketing and communication in the pharmaceutical industry isn’t as creative as I had dreamed. There wasn’t as much storytelling as I had hoped; it was more about strong efficacy and security. I learnt about precision, diagnosis, and reliability but I was still dreaming about working in a creative industry, in luxury, fashion or beauty, so I decided to go to IFM (Institut Français de la Mode). You can imagine the face of the recruiters when they saw a veterinarian coming from the pharmaceutical industry wanting to come to IFM to do fashion and luxury… but they put their trust in me! This trust is something that even today I am still very grateful for.
Eventually I did my internship at Chanel which was a big milestone for me and then I joined L’Oréal. I’m still very grateful for having met the incredible HR manager that hired me. It was the hardest interview until then as we talked for two hours and a half but when it ended, I really knew that I wanted to work here, I wanted to seek beauty!
Aside from your ability to work hard, was there anything else that has helped you on your journey so far?
I think the fact of being curious helped me through this journey. I wanted to change my career and that made me even more open to learn from everything and everyone. In addition, I think it is funny how even when you have achieved your goal, you keep on going and try to reach for the next one by being open, willing to learn what is out of your immediate comfort zone, and the passion you put on it… that’s what has helped me make it through all the obstacles and get this far.
You had several moments where you had to convince others that this was what you really wanted to do. Do you think now it is a strength for you to have gone through all those diverse experiences?
There is nothing harder than to see someone hesitating about you, about what you have done, what you have created, what you have built or even about where you come from.
I think my personal background, my experiences and just who I am actually… gave me the ability to go through that. But I’ll say… it’s not easy. It’s difficult to have someone in front of you hesitating about all your professional projects and experiences. It’s hard, it needs a lot of determination but it’s interesting because making others believe in your project, in what you’ve done, makes people understand what you are capable of and above all, makes them see that you are happy and proud of what you’ve accomplished. In addition, it really helps to believe in yourself at the end!
As a young manager, what do you think matters the most and what do you wish to share to your team?
Above all, I think it is all about people. I want my team to have and share their passion, positivity, and enthusiasm for the projects we are working on with other, but also to know that they are not alone… they are a part of a team and that is one of our biggest strengths. I’m there for them and they are here for me.
Is there a project at L’Oréal that makes you particularly proud?
Something that lingers in my heart is linked to the Lancôme fragrance, Trésor. After Skincare, my second job at Lancôme was on Trésor and the franchise is quite spectacular because of its heritage and awareness. At the time, we had other strategic priorities, so La Nuit Trésor was not really the priority. However, my manager and I were convinced: we wanted to give a new campaign for the franchise, even if at that moment we didn’t have the budget for it. We worked on a very nice concept for it that was “Love in the eyes of the person that loves you”.
We were so passionate about the project that we put all our energy in it and eventually we did it!
I think this is the magic of working at L’Oréal, if you believe in it, others will also believe in it, and the Groupe can really make a wish come true.
Not only was there a new communication starring Penelope Cruz released but also, a new desirable innovative product, THE LOVE Calendar and on top of that celebration; the 30th anniversary of Trésor. A celebration that brought Isabella Rossellini and Penelope Cruz back together to celebrate and I was even able to interview Penelope Cruz myself. I promise, I was levitating, it was such a great moment!
What is it like to work in France? Can you share with us one myth and one truth about France?
Most people have heard that Parisians like to complain and protest… and I can confirm that this is very true! And I must confess that after 6 years living in Paris I am myself becoming Parisian and complaining about the subway, the people, the weather… funny paradox being in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
However, still 6 years later, I am grateful every day for living here and my bike rides to the office remind me of the amazing beauty, which is something we tend to forget about.
The routine keeps our heads down looking to our phones or to the ground, however all you need to do is simple, just lift your head up a little to realize there are so many beautiful things buildings, the Opera, Le Louvre… it is astonishing and still admire it every single day.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is everywhere.
I think we have the chance to work in the beauty sector; to create beauty. We can show that beauty is in different shapes, different skin tones, in nature… beauty is literally everywhere. However, you just have to be open, awakened, and eager to see it, to look for it.
Once, while having a meeting with the CEO of the Luxe Division, he said that on a wall of a corporate building there were the following words: “L’Oréal Chercheur de Beauté”. And I thought, what a beautiful strong message, at L’Oréal we truly are beauty seekers.
Working here to discover it and express it, is a true privilege.
What would you say to your ‘younger Carlos’?
I would say: Carlos, try to enjoy every minute. Don’t be anxious about the future, don’t be stressed about how you are going to reach your goals. You live here at this precise moment. Of course, you must act to change reality but try to also to enjoy your reality today. Even if it’s not what you expected, keep on dreaming, and try to take everything you can on that moment, not being anxious about the future.
Just enjoy more the moment! Which I do today. Work hard and keep on dreaming.
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