How to Handle Big Money With a Cool Head

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Coty's Sylvie Moreau deals with a mind-blowing bottom line.

It’s daunting to even think about, but Sylvie Moreau, President of Professional Beauty at Coty, is surprisingly relaxed about her US$1.8 billion portfolio, which includes some of the world’s biggest beauty brands, including Wella, ghd and OPI.

Well-versed in beauty after 22 years in the business, after joining Procter & Gamble’s marketing team in 1994, Sylvie was at the forefront of one of the world’s biggest beauty mergers, between P&G and Coty back in 2016.

But the beauty veteran claims her stress-free approach, and her success over the years, is simply down to following her passion for business – and never underestimating the power of a confidence-boosting blow-dry.

I AM A VERY LOYAL PERSON. When I fall in love with someone or something, I’m hanging in there. That’s what happened when I joined P&G; I found a fantastic company where I could have a big career and [work] in different roles. I was in marketing originally, and then in general management, in local, regional and global roles, with fantastic, iconic brands, mostly in beauty, surrounded by great people. I just strived in this company.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF TAKING A RISK. The big reason why I stayed with P&G for that long is because, about 10 years ago, I chose to join the professional division of P&G, which services salon owners and professionals in both hair and nail care. It was quite a risky choice at the time, because it was really a different business within the P&G house of brands. But at the time it was a very rational choice. I wanted to learn a new business model while still staying in P&G to have that continuity, but [with] the excitement of learning something new.

TRUE SUCCESS NEVER HAPPENS WITHOUT PASSION. I think everybody will have their own journey, and it can be either a journey where you have some constants, like in my case, but also be a very different career map. Whatever path you choose, one should follow their passion. The more you can be in that magical place where your passion, profession and mission collide, that is the key to being fulfilled in life.

I AM GOOD AT BUSINESS AND I HAVE A PASSION FOR BEAUTY, but making a difference in the world is what drives me. We can make a significant difference to our 100,000-plus professional customers. The core is to play, or try to play, a role: to sustain and elevate a profession. And what is so addictive about the business is that it is all about people and human experiences. It’s filled with emotions and aspiration, and it’s commercial and operational, which I love.

LEADING A US$12.5 BILLION MERGER BETWEEN P&G AND COTY WAS PHENOMENAL. But even with one-and-a-half hours of sleep, because we were scrambling and preparing everything, I still took some time to go to the salon and get my hair done, so that I would have this extra-fresh look. And with the confidence a fabulous blow-dry gives you, I told the team what was happening and that was a very great moment. To get people thriving is the key to sustainable growth and the key to your progress. You want to progress by lifting others, and you will only progress if they lift you up.

WOMEN CAN DO ANYTHING IF THEY BELIEVE IN THEIR CAPABILITIES. Now, if you ask me what is the one thing that gets in our way, that we create ourselves, that I can relate to myself, is that sometimes, for some reason, we don’t have faith in what we are capable of. So maybe women should lean forward a bit more, which men do. Men can take the world, but we focus on why we are not yet perfect before making that next step. Men would take the step and learn along the way – and you know what? Men are right. You grow by learning.

I HAVE BEEN VERY DELIBERATE IN ENABLING MYSELF TO THRIVE. For one, that’s down to a fantastic team at work and two, having a great support system at home. I think this is key to having a successful life. At work, I have really surrounded myself with an outstanding and diverse group of leaders, who are exceptional at delivering on our mission with passion. And I think you lead successfully in this current age by building a team. If your team is good, your business is good.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CONVERSATION IS WITH YOURSELF. If you want to be in the driving seat of your life, your career path and the key decisions with them, your boss only plays a supporting role. The biggest conversation has to be with yourself, and then your partner. For my husband and I, we decided very early on in our relationship what we wanted in life, and that was that we wanted to both have the career, and we would also become parents. And that helped keep us on track; we created the support system that we needed early on.

A RELIABLE SUPPORT TEAM IS A NECESSITY. I have a true partner with my husband, who is working as well. We both have a profession, and we have a family. We have a young daughter of 15. We have a full-time nanny, who [plays] a critical role in our life, who we have had since [our daughter] was born. It’s essential when you have two parents working full-time, away from family members who can help out.

I AM A PERFECTIONIST, BUT SOMETIMES IT’S ABOUT LETTING IT GO. I think what often makes it difficult for women is honestly not being a mother and professional, but it’s the third role that we are usually responsible for and no one ever talks about – the management of the household, which comprises the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping. This mental load is like a smartphone with too many apps on in the background. It drains battery much faster, and that’s what happens to women. So, what I am trying to do is to delegate and let go of my standards. Let it happen like my nanny does it, or my husband does it, or even my daughter.

I DON’T LEAVE WORK AT WORK. Yes, I don’t want to take my computer and do some tasks when I come home, but I want work to be in my home because it is who I am. That’s a great role model to our daughter. She can be ambitious, she can do whatever she wants and she will be fulfilled if she has a job that she has a passion for.

WORK IS JUST ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE that needs to be managed and needs to all fit together. Personally, I am very good at switching off. Yes, the portfolio is huge, and yes, the role is huge, but when I come back from work, I switch off.

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