Meet Jennifer, Traveling Junkie and Marketeer at L’Oréal Italy
What does marketing mean to you? For Jennifer, Group Marketing & Social Media Manager for Urban Decay and It Cosmetics, marketing is all about challenge, entrepreneurship and details. Details: from watching people react to different experiences tailored and created for them, to surprising someone and triggering an emotion. Entrepreneurship: being invested in the success of the business you run and coming up with new and creative ideas to reach it. Challenge: because what is life without taking risks? Being able to embark on new ventures and materialize all the inspiration she discovers into marketing a beauty product, that’s what we define as true dedication. Let’s get to know Jennifer as she shares her career, her hobbies and more!
Jennifer, tell us about your work at L’Oréal?
I’m Group Marketing & Social Media Manager for Urban Decay and It Cosmetics, in the Luxe Divison at L’Oréal Italy. Those who’ve known me for a while know I bleed purple glitter like Urban Decay and cherish empowerment, authenticity and confidence, three core pillars of It Cosmetics’ DNA, as guiding values.
So…did I choose marketing or did marketing choose me? One thing’s for sure: it’s a match! Jokes aside, in the era of fast dating and even faster breakups, marketing and I have a love story that I think will stand the test of time and I’m grateful of having the opportunity to explore it fully here at L’Oréal. I love all the details: I love seeing people react to things and gifting someone with at least one minute of surprise in the middle of an otherwise perfectly gray day. That’s what marketing is to me: surprising someone and triggering an emotion they were not expecting to feel in that specific moment. Also, I like to talk and marketing is really talking when you think about it — through different mediums but still talking and engaging in a conversation.
What do you like the most about your job?
First and foremost, the brands. I’m fortunate enough to work on brands whose DNA truly resonates with me. A very close second is the power and vision that come with knowledge: I feel like I’m involved in all of the relevant conversations on the brands I work on, and my mind feeds itself off of this in order to come up with new ideas. I can’t work without knowledge, room to move and an understanding of what I’m working towards. Knowing what’s going on 360 degrees excites me, and thinking of ways to intervene in real-time and steer parts of this business gives me a sense of empowerment.
Another thing I love is interconnection — I work on small, hugely consumer-centric and rapidly evolving brands which mean there are a lot of resourceful, smart and fast-thinking people involved on them globally. Being connected to them on a regular basis and exchanging ideas with them makes me feel like I’m truly part of a “dream team” and pushes me that much harder. The amount of growth and inspiration you can draw is great!
What makes Marketing unique at L’Oréal?
This one is very simple: people! I’ve had the pleasure of working with truly inspiring minds which have nurtured my creativity, always allowing me to express it. Whether it be my managers or members of my team, the journey has been an incredible one so far, filled with learning and growth. Everyone is different but there’s a special and common drive that makes boundaries relative, limits non-threatening and one simple yet important question pivotal: “what if?”. “What if it could be done?” “What if it could work?” “What if you could be the first to do it?” It’s a question that picks your brain impatiently until you come up with something! When you work with people that dare to ask these questions, you know you are in the right place.
Marketing at L’Oréal is about the idea and the execution, the sometimes all-over-the-place creativity and the business implications at the same time.
Last but not least, you have such a vast array of experience and examples concentrated around you, that allow you to learn from past mistakes, grow, challenge and strive for future disruption. You have to come up with new ways to do something and then you have to be prepared to let them go and make space for even newer ones when the time is right. In other words, marketing in L’Oréal is that seemingly impossible-to-handle but oh so handsome lover, you just can’t let go of. So here we are, happily married hahaha.
What are your key learnings in your role so far?
Lessons come in all shapes and sizes! I think this is the concept that has stuck with me the most so far. People are unpredictable and you can learn a lot from someone who has a different job from yours but can provide a different vision, another piece of the “puzzle”, that can help you with your own strategy and goals. Not giving in to pressure and always seeing your opinion through, no matter how different, is also a strong message I have carried with me. Also, never bask in the glory for too long. If you do something great make sure you celebrate it and then move on, because the world is moving fast and you always need to push yourself to not only keep up but be ahead of it! Last but not least, listen to what is out there. We have so many ways to stay updated with regards to consumer trends, needs, comments, opinions…consumers are looking for increasingly direct dialogue with brands, so there really isn’t much of an excuse for us to get it wrong. They are making themselves available and we need to be on the other end and listen.
You’re part of the #1 beauty company in the world and some of the best minds out there work here, so experiment, ask, challenge, speak up and show what you are all about.
What’s your proudest achievement so far?
I have a few, at least one for every significant step so far!
Nowadays social media is a big deal for everyone and every brand has a plan for it, but in 2014 when we took charge of Urban Decay in Italy, things were very different. There was little knowledge of this world and my business unit was tasked with finding a strategy for our country. There was no influencers list to draw from, very few best practices. So the calls, the proposals, the “why don’t we”, the “come by the office, I’d love to meet in you in person”, the “what do you need” started. Ultimately, we rose to the #1 spot in buzz ranking for the selective beauty category in Italy, and have managed to do quite well ever since, leveraging social media to get in touch with our consumers. That’s something I’m proud of.
Another marking memory was when we were transitioning towards a new structure and as a junior I worked with our central management to present our yearly budget to our Zone teams. It seemed impossible, but we did it. The next day, minutes after our presentation, I wrote down a thought that I still carry with me: “challenges — they nearly break you until they make you”. I grew a little stronger and gained a life-time friend because of that opportunity.
Later on, when I was working on Clarisonic, my proudest achievement came in when we opened a new retailer, different from any channel and business partner L’Oréal Italy had ever worked with. That meant countless calls, questions, people involved. Then our very first show aired and we did ok, not great. So we went back to the drawing board and adjusted our offer until one day…we finally got it right. We not only brought new business, but also laid the foundation for other brands in the future.
And most recently, I have had the pleasure of working on the launch of It Cosmetics in Italy. Planning for a brand to enter a new country is the quintessence of entrepreneurship I find — you have a global vision to guide you but are in charge of tailoring your strategy and catering to the local audience. This brand new shiny baby is put into your hands and you are tasked with caring for it and giving it the foundations to grow up, and you only have one chance to get it right. You find yourself building and demolishing plans all within the same day, until you find the right fit and finally hit the market. The feeling? Priceless.
Funny anecdote about who you are?
I’m half Italian and half French, of Somali descent, born in Italy and raised in the US (managed to boil it down to a few seconds over the years!). Traveling is a huge energy driver for me, my go-to therapy for almost anything. Also, oddly enough I own a pet boa. Other things about me: curves over edges, even numbers over odd ones, sweet over savory and…if there is more than one element within my eye range, I 100% will start to count them all in my head!
3 thing to know about your team:
Strong-minded, passionate, hard-working.
Overall I think young marketers today want to be taken very seriously and acknowledged from the start, they want their needs to be heard and they want it to happen fast — it’s a generational trait. It’s not always easy to match this attitude with the flexibility and change-prone outlook that we need in order to “win” in our game, but we need to start thinking this way and I am challenging myself on this. A big part of a marketer’s success in this era is that “human factor”, how well you are making use of the brainpower you are surrounded with. In order to leverage it you need to understand it first, and it takes time and effort when you put together a very heterogeneous team. I’m lucky to work alongside not only great minds but great people with strong characters, and the ultimate goal is to draw from everyone’s different views in order to drive our successes and grow our collective knowledge.
The best advice you’be ever received?
“Never change” — my first manager said this to me very early on in my career path, in a most unsuspicious moment. It didn’t seem special at the time, but over the years I have looked back on that sentence more often than you’d think and have cherished that exchange deeply. We live in a fast-moving, high-energy environment and there can be a lot of interests in one room at the same time. Standing your ground and holding on to your principles is key. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t evolve or change our minds, but we should do so while staying authentic to ourselves. If you try to be someone else you will fail miserably, not because you’re not good at it, but because that job is already taken.
There is beauty in who you are, and keeping your core pure and uncontaminated takes a solid effort but the payoff is incredible.
Inspired by Jennifer’s story? Read more about our careers in Marketing here: