Meet Gianluca, Finance Management Trainee in the Fast Lane at L’Oréal Italy
“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” (Gary M. Fanelli, professional marathon runner to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul).
What do you think is the link between the way of managing a running competition and working at L’Oréal, the global leader in the beauty and cosmetics industry? We can only guess that you have to be dynamic and fast lane ready in both roles, but let Gianluca, Junior Controller at L’Oréal Italy dive deeper into the real similarities. Let’s learn how these three ingredients — head, personality and heart — represent some of the most important elements that drive him every day in his activities at L’Oréal.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Gianluca, I am 25 years old and I work as Junior Controller at L’Oréal Italy. I started this adventure in 2017 and I can say it was not properly conventional; at the time, in fact, I was an ambitious and very motivated analyst working in Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) in a major investment bank — crazy, right?
What motivated you to join L’Oreal Finance?
Before I joined L’Oréal, Finance for me was more a banking and markets-related concept and, no lies, I truly liked my job. However, after 1 year as M&A analyst in a bank, I started to understand that not one of my daily tasks were providing direct knowledge of how business decisions are taken on a daily basis or helping me to acquire any managerial skills or eventually seeing first-hand a business from its very inside. Somehow, I was looking for a more realistic experience, something concrete, that could allow me to make an impact.
Therefore, the big and unexpected change arrived! I joined the Management Trainee Program for Finance at L’Oréal, tailored for one year during which I could gain an incomparable exposure to the business. I have completed different job rotations in the Finance team of our Customer Product Division. For the first six months, I worked as Business Development controller, a very advantageous position to understand a broader size the industry and the company itself. Then, I have begun to cover my actual role of junior controller for the L’Oréal Paris brand. After one year, I have learnt an over than expected number of things!
What does your role involve?
At L’Oréal, the role of Finance is to make sure that a perfect balance among the main business teams is reached and preserved, by operating as a true advisor. Being a controller here means many things, from ensuring the reliability of information, precision, reactiveness, trust, to the ability to recommend always the best solutions, especially in situations of uncertainty. Not only it is a role of responsibility but it also implies for a controller to understand perfectly what is the contribution of each function to the bigger picture.
I personally see it as a delicate equilibrium, like the Ford Assembly Line (of course, not the “old and crazy” Assembly Line represented by Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times) but like a well-defined and ordered chain where everyone is supposed to have an individual role that the controllers must help to maintain.
Because in order to be a controller, the crucial element is to be on the ball. To understand a market, contribute to define a strategy, dominate a budget, analyze numbers, focus on different functions, roles and time horizons at the same time, the essential element is always rationally advising the right choice.
Tell us about your experience first joining L’Oréal
When I arrived at L’Oréal, the change was not easy: I had to learn everything from scratch. My previous job was completely different: pure financial modeling, cash-flow valuation, trading and transaction multiples, rating analyses, etc…. However, little by little this huge “difference” turned out to become my biggest strength and I think that it has also led me to my greatest success until now.
The day I was welcomed at L’Oréal, the person I admire the most in the firm told me that “difference for him is not a gap but is an added-value”. In that moment, I understood L’Oréal’s philosophy on the topic. “Think as if you were the firm, as if you were the entrepreneur!”, I was told so many times across these walls by HR and managers and little by little this advice started to look like an incentive to give my 110% every day!
A good example of this attitude to give it my all, was when I worked on a project called clusterization. The aim of the project was to create a financial model to rank into 5 clusters all the shops served by L’Oréal with make-up products, according to specific parameters of profitability.
The project was led by a task force of people where everyone had a specific role: for example, I was in charge of setting up the model to rank to point of sales, which was the major initial obstacle. Once this step was completed, I had the huge pleasure to start working directly with the other team members (marketing guys and the brand director) and together we developed a customized strategy to serve each of the 5 different clusters in a much more profitable way.
Not only did the project turn out to be an unbelievable treasure of knowledge that I acquired, but it also helped me to gain direct exposure to the first managerial line of the firm. Today the clusterization has become a crucial part of the merchandising and marketing strategies for 2019.
What inspires you in your day to day?
Having the opportunity to like your job and to make an impact by participating in decisional processes is what an average multinational company does. Having, in addition, the option and the incentive to make an impact based on your own contribution and personality is what a top rated multinational company usually does.
Finally, giving the previous two plus the privilege to feel inspired by your job, by the people you work with and by the values embodied by the company itself, is what makes a company the very best in class. And, for me, L’Oréal is the best representation of these all factors together.
In parallel, another source of inspiration is that once become part of the big L’Oréal family, I immediately realized that L’Oréal’s mission is — in the very heart of its business — improving people’s lives with its products and services. Of course, I am talking about an indirect benefit but… tell me, how many times in your previous jobs have you had this chance to make such a difference? For me, it is so rewarding to play even a small part into this customer-oriented mission and go beyond the traditional materialistic profit-centric philosophy.
“I feel on my skin every day that L’Oréal has this kind of humanly weird ability to act as a guide to its people by pushing them to improve, grow, learn, challenge and maybe also become the best version of themselves.”
With no doubts, this is what inspires me every morning when I wake up and get to work.
Inspired by Gianluca’s story? Learn more about our careers in Sales & Business Development here: