Re-Defining Superwomen: Jane On Juggling a Successful Career and Motherhood
There is no one linear path to achieve what you want, especially in your professional life. At L’Oréal, we value the stories of each and every one of our people and help them reach their goals. But the most important thing is to have a good work life balance that allows you to grow, change and be open to new possibilities. Meet Jane, L’Oréal Brand General Manager for the Professional Products Division, who shares her secret for running your own business, managing a demanding career while caring for three young children. Yes! All of that is possible when you lead your every day with drive and passion for what you do.
What’s a typical work week for a Brand General Manager in L’Oréal’s Professional Products Division?
I spend my working week between my Professional Products Division (PPD) team, my management, and my customers. The most fun and educational time I have to say is interacting with our customers because they always have so much news and insights (and gossip!).
My typical office day starts with checking daily sales momentum for both L’Oréal Professionnel and Kérastase in our different channels (retail, salon, wholesale) and having catchups and meetings with various team members. Quite often there will be client meetings in-salon to discuss ongoing projects, collaborations and contracts or just to catch up for market visits. There are the scheduled meetings about sales, marketing, education, stock, HR, finance, etc, and always the ad-hoc issues or concerns to address.
My lunch is funny — it is either a very quick bowl of noodles from the food court downstairs (or just a banana for those really crazy days) or it is a tasty and relaxed restaurant spread with a customer, team members or colleagues. The food choices in Hong Kong are really delicious!
How would you describe your own personal brand?
I am a bit of a nerd who loves beauty. I would say that I enjoy the theoretical part and I care very much about truth, consistency and sustainability. I don’t work because I have to, I work because work motivates me to use my energy in a productive way.
Do you have any hobbies that you feel have added value to you as a marketer?
I love fashion design and for a few years in Shanghai, I ran my own fashion label designing high-end Chinese silk dresses.
I feel that having been an entrepreneur, particularly in fashion, gives me additional insight into what it’s like to put yourself and your artistic vision on the line, and it also gives me a lot of appreciation on the benefits of having a huge organization like L’Oréal at my back.
During your 7-year-experience at L’Oréal, how has PPD evolved?
Nathalie Roos, President of the Professional Products Division, has brought a great amount of new energy and direction to the division in the last few years. I have the feeling that PPD is a big global family and that all of us around the world have a clear and shared purpose.
But throughout my time in the PPD, our salon customer focus and our customers’ basic needs have stayed the same — what will not change is our customers’ need for a good partner in the business, great customer service, great products and continuous innovation.
What are some of your favourite projects you have worked on in L’Oréal PPD?
I really enjoyed kicking off a project to provide B-to-B online ordering for salon customers in Australia, as I got to work across divisions with the Consumer Products Division pharmacy team as well as Luxe and Active Cosmetics Division. I was very excited about Color Trophy in 2018, as Hong Kong has not hosted a Color Trophy in many years here and it’s high time we re-established our brand as a source of inspiration and excitement. Last year when I arrived in Hong Kong we opened our first permanent retail department store counter for Kérastase, and learning the ins and outs of how to drive direct retail has been fascinating for me as the rhythm is quite different for consumers versus selling into salons.
How do you keep up-to-date with the latest trends and new technologies?
My secret weapons are my great team of educators, who are always sharing the latest pictures and products online and offline. But just being aware of the people around me as I walk around and especially as I visit our salon customers is the main way I keep my finger on the pulse. Then, of course, there are the social listening tools and reports that our Global Digital team, my digital manager, and our zone marketers provide. It all adds together to provide a surprisingly coherent picture both in Hong Kong and in APAC.
Having worked in China and Australia, what are some of the key differences when targeting hairdressers/ salons?
Australian salons tend to decide on one main brand as a partner and all the hairdressers in that salon use the same products to provide services, although there is more diversification at retail of course. So we have a big focus on customer retention and important conquests are often an all-or-nothing decision. But in Hong Kong, it is quite unusual for any salon to use a single brand for any more than a third of their product needs, as they like to pick and choose and quite often different stylists will use different brands within the same salon. So our focus in Hong Kong necessarily is spread between winning the hearts of stylists as well as addressing the needs of salon owners, since you won’t be successful in a salon with only one or the other.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not easy balancing the needs of three very young children, a partner who also works a demanding full-time job, and the pace of L’Oréal. When I first moved to L’Oréal Hong Kong from Australia in mid-2017 after a year of maternity leave with my third son, I found the transition extremely challenging as I struggled to learn new cultural norms, figure out childcare and schooling in a completely new system, and run to catch up in a new role with a new team in a challenging business environment.
I have to say my dear husband wasn’t speaking to me much when I left for my second trip to Paris within our first month of moving. But we all got through it and are now well and truly happily settled into Hong Kong with a home-life balance that I am proud to maintain (I get to work earlier than most but I come home in time to read bedtime stories most nights), and I have no regrets about taking on the new challenge.
In the long term, challenge, change and exposure is what makes us grow.
Tell us more about your team!
L’Oréal Professional Products Division in Hong Kong is a family. Between L’Oréal Professional and Kérastase, we have 16 people — 4 marketers, 4 educators, a controller, a brand admin, 5 sales managers and me, and everybody works with everybody. Our office staff are located in the corporate offices in Times Square but because many of our team are field staff, quite often the whole team will congregate and work together in one big room at our Academy in Central. Outside of the normal meetings and catchups, the whole team likes to use WhatsApp to keep up with each other.
What are some achievements and growth drivers for L’Oréal PPD during your career that you are most proud of?
In Australia as a controller, I was proud to be part of the drive to put Education classes on to SFA so that our customers could purchase Education together with their products. Later, as Marketing Manager for Kérastase, I was also proud to launch Shu Uemura Art of Hair into the market — it was a terrific launch event held at a private quirky art gallery. Then in a later role as Business Development Manager, I was proud to be a part of our MAG and a drive to provide B-to-B online ordering for salon clients across our 6 brands. In Hong Kong, we are working on a variety of growth drivers coming up, but I will crow about those later.
Got inspired by Jane’s story and the way she combines her optimism with her grit and determination? Make sure to explore our many job opportunities on our career website!