On Wednesday April 9th, we had to jump out of bed even earlier than usual to be at 8:30 sharp at the doors of the Parisian headquarters of the huge conglomerate L'Oréal.
Who does not know L'Oréal? They are present in over 130 countries. Only Coca-Cola and maybe a couple of other companies have been able to achieve such global penetration. L'Oréal covers all aspects of the beauty business, from make up to perfumes, hair and skin care. Their research and development centers are core to the business, and expanding.
One of the first things we saw (and liked) were the ads promoting women in sciences (a collaborative program between L’Oréal and UNESCO) and the green around the offices. We proceeded to have some much needed coffee along with fresh French pastries, offered very kindly by our thoughtful host. Then, the company's MBA talent recruitment manager in flesh and blood talked to us for around 2 hours about opportunities, strategic targets and career development. She was very successful in spreading L'Oréal’s vision and approach to beauty.
Beauty has always been a good business, and L'Oréal is currently targeting developing markets, which have offered the company double-digit sustained growth in recent years. In our first term at ESSEC, we studied a business case about the company’s “universalization” strategy, which is very unique to L’Oréal. Thanks to their policy of inclusion, they believe in universal beauty and their research and development specifically focuses on creating products for all features and ethnicities.
While we had this rough idea before going it, we learnt much more about L’Oréal and its values thanks to the visit. For instance, I did not know the large number of successful brands integrated in their portfolio – Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Ralph Lauren, Cacharel, Diesel, Maybelline, Vichy, Estée Lauder, Garnier, Giorgio Armani, ... just to name a few.
I believe one of the most important things to do when pursuing an MBA is to keep an open mind. Not to say things like: "I'm not interested in this company/region/industry/topic.” Many MBA candidates take this year off to write a new page, to look for a fresh start without preconceptions or assumptions, with an open heart and mind about the possibilities ahead.
To make it clear: many people would perhaps think that a company like L'Oréal would be looking for marketing and business development professionals. The truth is, they are actually recruiting people for finance and supply chain functions. We even got a new summer project proposition from our visit to L'Oréal, which was very much worth it.