L’Oreal, the making machine cracks
The global leading beauty cream recruiting and marketing experts. Survey codes and methods of a group that does not tolerate to nearly.
Even the interview river Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of L’Oreal, in “Paris Match”, in early October, was censored. In recent months, the world’s No. 1 cosmetics removes its internal review of all press articles related to bounce “case”. “The first business,” insists substantially Jean-Paul Agon, CEO. At the headquarters in Clichy, as in the smallest branch in the other side of the world, employees do not have to do violence to follow the instructions, they assimilated. The pressure for results is rooted in the history of this multinational, accustomed for twenty-six years at a double-digit growth in profits (+ 21.4% in first half 2010). Here, self-improvement is the rule. And leadership the cardinal virtue. backstage Survey among these executives “who are worth it.”
The cult of “always more”
Flowing, really? When he was appointed CEO of L’Oreal, in 2006, Jean-Paul Agon was reputed to be less brittle Lindsay Owen-Jones, its predecessor for eighteen years, now president of the group, and is still the subject of a real veneration in the house. To mark its difference, the new boss has stepped up social measures: the fight against stress, charter on diversity, evaluation of managers on personal development criteria . But the profitability requirement, it has not changed. Now, L’Oreal, those are the numbers that dictate the tempo. Hence the ultrasoutenu rhythm, which sometimes puts family life to evil, especially for young mothers (64% of employees are women).
A visit to the headquarters in Clichy, where the phosphorus in consumer products, is enough to be convinced. At nine least, marketers of L’Oreal Paris, Garnier and Maybelline are already busy in their offices. It is frowned upon arriving later. The day then place in a frantic whirlwind burst meetings, lunch break shipped in thirty minutes, security officials forced to dislodge the most zealous after 21 h 30 . “Life at L’Oreal, is a little return student years, summarizes a framework. later we bump together, they dine together, see you on the weekend . “
The consumer division, which accounts for half of sales, is known to be the hardest. “Fought Market, knife negotiations with retailers . it’s war!” Laughs a product manager. “The atmosphere is just as tense luxury division, Lancôme and Biotherm. But the relationships between people are more muted, “says one expert group. And it is even relaxed in the active cosmetic branches (Vichy, La Roche Posay .) and professional products (Kerastase, Redken .). Normal: L’Oreal dominates the market for drugstores and hair salons.
Everywhere, management maintains emulation. At all levels. We must, of course, beat rivals in its sector: Nivea, Schwarzkopf or LVMH (Dior, Guerlain .). But doing better, too, than the other group brands. And, if possible, than other products in its own team. “My boss loved to put under my nose the figures of my colleagues,” says a former product manager. To stand out, young wolves marketers use their expertise as their “expertise.” They speak highly of their good results in the cafeteria, distribute their products to all services in preview . “Market yourself!” They do we advise the HRD. The rumor even says that a director would have let to the year for its brand all the advertising boards on the path taken by Jean-Paul Agon, from his home in Neuilly-sur-Seine to the seat of Clichy history lather with the boss .
A naturelleLa selection pressure is at its peak on the day of the budget or strategic presentations. The most feared? The “prospective” meeting. Twice a year, the 23 owners of international brands exhibiting their launch plans to Jean-Paul Agon. “One month we hump like crazy to wedge all,” says a luxury division of the frame. Make and remake – a L’Oreal principle – slides, check the tables of figures, including the famous “OJ1” – the initials of Owen-Jones – that compares sales advertising investment . Number of careers are made and unmade during the oral exam.
The weakest often end up resigning. Or inherit a job for less. “When my boss found itself in the sights, I understood the meaning of humiliation,” says this former communications service. In recent months, with the crisis, “Darwinism” was further strengthened. “Jean-Paul Agon has declared a so-called combing policy says a” orealien the “seasoned. We were asked to be inflexible with those who underperform. In some countries, an internal study showed that demotivaient colleagues . “
The house know however be generous towards those who hold up. In 2009, L’Oreal executives got an average 4.9% increase, enough to fantasize a lot of their colleagues in the CAC 40. “We ask a lot, but in return we give as much confirms Jean- Claude Le Grand, HRD of the consumer division. Fixed, comfortable salaries but in standard French multinationals are added almost three months salary in profit sharing. “Either 9000 euros for a youth group leader paid 40 000 per year,” it calculated to management. “On the incentive, only Dassault competes with us,” says Georges Liarokapis, central delegate CFE-CGC. Seat Clichy and Saint-Ouen, employees also have a concierge worthy of a palace. Gone, however, the lavish receptions, disco fee notes or what happened, seminars in Mauritius, with luxury, fireworks and champagne dinner in a private lagoon. ensures management control.
The talent hunt
Not enough to lower the L’Oreal rating among students, obviously. In the last week of ESCP in Paris, the group’s stand has raised more than 1 000 applications in one day! The seven scouts dispatched to the occasion asked the young detailing their motivations and to engage in the “exegesis” of a product selected at random. All in five minutes flat . “The detection of talent is an obsession with us,” explains Jean-Claude Le Grand. The company invests several million euros each year in company chairs (HEC as the School of Mines), partnerships with 200 universities in the world, marketing contest .
The largest of them, the “L’Oreal Brandstorm” attracted in June more than 6000 students from 270 schools scattered around the globe. The prize for the winning team? A trip to 10 000 and six-month internship. A must for getting a job: 90% of new hires are former interns. These orealiens the budding paid 1,100 euros net per month, three times the standard compensation, are tested on real projects under the command of a young product manager whose scans at the same time, the ability to management.
Only the best students are hired after four to ten interviews! Again, the product is at the heart of the process. “They showed me a hair coloring bottle, I had twenty minutes to present a plan to launch internationally!” Recalls Anna Weste, 29 years already and Marketing Director Europe for makeup L’Oreal Paris . A battery of questions, sometimes surprising ( “And if you were a vegetable?”) Makes sure that the candidate is hardworking, talented and ambitious oral. In short, it has the standard profile. “Koalas have two voltage does not belong here,” a downright cowardly leader.
The mold managerAvant to take their position, the new kids are all sent “on the road”. A test of six to twelve months during which they travel, shoulder computer, the province of supermarkets, install deodorants on the shelves at 5 am and slept at night in spartan hotels industrial area . “Hard, but essential for rub for retailers and consumers, “says an employee at Lascad (Dop, Mixa, Narta .). After this “hazing” scale, young product managers for two weeks following an integration course, the L’Oreal Culture Discovery, with presentation of different trades (R & D, finance, advertising .) and visits to factories or logistics centers.
Then it’s the big plunge. “It starts in the pool of the business and you have to learn to swim alone,” said one seat frame. This early empowerment, rare in multinationals is one of the key elements that appeals to young graduates. “By becoming a product manager on the red Maybelline lip, I found myself at the head of an SME. At 24! “Anna is still surprised Weste. Price segmentation of the range, merchandising, advertising . It’s all to do. Better then follow the motto here “! Lie with your products” At Clichy, one sees that they: Elvive shampoo mounds or aftershave Men Expert enthroned in each office.
If L’Oreal as dream in business schools and marketing, it is also because careers are faster than elsewhere. A manager with high potential, spotted after several successful launches, is automatically promoted every two or three years, as first group leader, operational marketing director then and CEO of a brand and finally a country. To expand its range, it often exchange sector. Before becoming Global Head of Professional Products, Christophe Leguay, 48, went through three divisions in France and then to Britain, where he oversaw L’Oreal Paris. The objective of the management? Maintain managers in a “healthy concern,” as they say in the jargon home and drive up the best. To the peaks.
Jean-Paul Agon has opened recruiting external talent, young people under 30 years still “formatables” or pointed seniors, as Veronique Gautier, former President Jean Paul Gaultier named International CEO of Giorgio Armani fragrances. And it now allows those who left L’Oreal – sacrilege time Owen-Jones – to return. But, most top managers are always from the Seraglio. The forty more senior officers are even the subject of a personalized succession plan, with, for each of them, three names identified dolphins in the house. The machine is not near seize .