An American in Milan: The Cross Pond Jump from L’Oréal USA to Italy
Ever wondered what life is like for an expatriate at L’Oréal? From endless career opportunities and wanderlust to simply a change of pace, with L’Oréal you can have life-changing opportunities across 140 destinations. You are the one who decides how far you want to take your career. Someone who’s taken her career far and wide is Christina, an American expat working at L’Oréal Italy as Marketeer for Kérastase and Shu Uemura brands. It’s a big thing to move jobs alone, but moving countries for a job is another. What’s it like to do the double whammy and brave both changes? Christina shares with us her story, challenges and passions!
Tell us about your journey to Italy?
As part of my undergrad studies in the US at the University of Southern California, I was accepted into the exchange program at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.
Those 6 months spent in Milan would set the stage for the rest of my life. I fell in love with the city, the food (obviously the easiest part), the language, the culture, the people…and from there on out, I had a one-track mind: Operation Move to Milan.
My path took me back to Milan for a Masters (where I met my future Italian husband — a critical piece of information for later) and we ended up in New York, the city of my dreams, as he started on his PhD and I began my career in the beauty industry, first at Elizabeth Arden and now at L’Oréal.
Tell us about how you joined L’Oréal and what you do!
A few months after I started in marketing, my boss got an opportunity to work at L’Oréal USA with the Garnier haircare team. Originally, she wanted me to interview for a role working with her as a haircare product manager, but it ended up going to an internal candidate. I kept in touch with the HR team and after several months I interviewed for the L’Oréal Professionnel hair color role and got the job!
I joined L’Oréal USA in June 2014 and spent 3.5 years on L’Oréal Professionnel, first as a hair color product manager and then as the category head for haircare. In February 2018 I moved to L’Oréal Italy and became the head of marketing for Kerastase & Shu Uemura.
At L’Oréal, I developed my next great big passion: work (I know, “said no one ever,” but I swear its true!). Yes, I am in marketing at the largest beauty company in the world. Yes, I am in the professional products division working for the most passionate people in the world (hairdressers, if you don’t already know). And yes, I have been working on the best brands…surprise, surprise…in the world. All of that is very true, but overall, my passion is working with super smart people in a super challenging environment, where every day opens with a challenge and concludes with a demonstration of our sheer will and determination to problem-solve.
It took a little luck, some patience and a lot of perseverance, but one year after the start of Operation L’Oréal Italy, I moved to Milan as the Head of Marketing for Kerastase. The problem with people who are incredibly determined is that we are like high-speed trains: get me on that track and I will take you straight from New York to Milan on that mythical transatlantic railroad. The anxiety began once I’ve reached my destination and disembarked from the train.
Tell us about the few things you love in life
I have always been described as a passionate person — at best super engaged and determined and at worst, perhaps a little too intense, a little too committed (there is such a thing!).
These passions have varied over the years, but the general themes have stayed pretty consistent: Food, books, USC athletics and Italy.
Let’s tackle USC athletics first because it’s absolutely fundamental for you to know about my first true love: The University of Southern California. I grew up in Los Angeles with two parents who both attended USC and a father who was and still is a USC football fanatic (to be clear: American football). Many of my childhood memories are centered on my dad and I traveled all over the United States for these football games.
What attitude do you need to move abroad for work?
A little luck, some patience and a lot of perseverance.
These last 2 years without a doubt have been my greatest achievement professionally and probably personally as well. Yes, there have been a lot of new things to learn: the Italian salon market is quite complex for a country the size of California; it is challenging to work not only in a different language but also in a different culture; the morning group “caffetino” at 9:30AM IS a real thing.
What do you love most about working at L’Oréal?
The people! I’m not sure if people can be a passion, but if it can, I’d say that I definitely have a new one brewing.
I’m at L’Oréal because of the people who brought me here, who I worked with in the US and who helped me transition to Italy. And most importantly, I’m at L’Oréal because of the people who I get to work with today and those who I will get to work with in the future.
Feel inspired by Christina’s expat story? L’Oréal offers a big range of international experiences and embraces internal mobility. If you feel ready to start a new work adventure, just take a look at our warm offers below: