Best Boss Series: Béatrice Dautzenberg GM, L’Oréal

Béatrice has studied Business and Marketing in France and Spain before joining L’Oréal 14 years ago. She has worked in France, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium and Canada across Sales, Operational Marketing, Co-Development with the Labs, International Strategy, Business Development & General Management. She is passionate by the endless opportunities offered by Techs, Digital, CRM (data-to-personalisation) and Artificial Intelligence to transform the way we collaborate, work and live. Béatrice believes in the power of Collective Intelligence & Leadership and explores with her team new ways of working & innovative tools to leverage it. Béatrice is proud to be part of a group that promotes Sustainable Growth with a long-term strategy and strong commitment in Ethics, Diversity and in projects that get positive impact on People Lives and on local communities.

Tell me how you define a successful leader.

Successful leaders win by sustainably growing people & their business through vision, innovation and collaboration while having a positive impact on people’s lives.

3 main actions to achieve success:

  1.     Strategise the growth with a vision that…
  • Is aligned with WHO the leader is.
  • Integrates long term AND short term measurable goals.
  • Is anchored in the history of the company and projects the company mission and business model in the up coming world.

2. Build and develop a dream team by…

  • Setting in partnerships with Human Resources, high standards and a strong focus on recruitment. This sometimes requires making compromises. For example, successful leaders would keep a position vacant for a significant amount of time if needed, to find the right talent, rather than hiring a non exceptional candidate who was available sooner.
  • Being a “People Developer” by growing the people who grow the business. Successful leaders share with generosity their experience and relevant information. They are fair and demanding with their team. They provide on-going feedback to reinforce the individual talents of each team member and make each individual aware of what can be done to improve.
  • Promoting diversity, fostering collaboration and managing team dynamics.

3. Act as if it were your own company…

  • Successful leaders make things happen. Together with the team, they seize opportunities, test and learn new ideas, rethink projects or scale them. They decide to invest or not in new projects, taking into account the ROI and the long term effects on the company. They challenge the status quo, take risks and support their team when things get complicated.
Share with me your greatest leadership success/experience.

My greatest leadership experience is the one I am living today as the general manager of L’Oréal Professionnel and Pureology in Canada. We are living in very exciting times when humans and innovation, my two passions, are at the heart of everything we do. Leading the transformation to grow sustainably in a disrupted, beauty market, together with talented teams and with our salon partners, is a fulfilling goal. I benefit from a great Canadian ecosystem with diverse, talented, collaborative and positive teams that fully embrace change. As people that grow the business is what drives me the most, I am happy to see key members of the team growing, becoming successful leaders, and being promoted in the company.

Recall your biggest managerial challenge. Tell me how you handled this. What did you learn that you might do differently next time?

I think one of my biggest challenges was when I arrived in Canada, transitioning from a team of 5 in Belgium to a team of 65 in Canada in a tough business contest. The General Manager position was empty for 9 months and the management committee had learnt how to work without one.

As a young leader, I had put a lot of pressure on myself in the first three months to prove to my bosses and my team that I was the right choice for the position and that we could deliver better results quickly, and have a clear time frame for growth. What I have learnt is that it is important to take the right time to build an achievable and ambitious strategy, listening to clients and teams as well as following your own vision.

Who have been your greatest mentors? Were they a colleague or did you hire a professional coach? What about this person or the experience had the biggest impact on your growth?

My greatest mentors have been…

  • My Dad: PHd/ Lung Doctor: for his courage, his power, his fighting spirit for a good cause (making people stop smoking), his optimism, his transparency, his generosity and the way he manages to work hard while taking such good care of his family and being happy.
  • My Mother: Doctor/ Hematologist for kids: for her being a good listener, for her sense of empathy, for her carefulness and tenderness for her sense of aesthetic and for her capacity to stay strong for others when they need support.
  • When I was a teenager, my two swimming teachers have been guides. They have taught me to have high goals and big dreams. They showed me that training and competing as a team makes you stronger, as well as being fun.
  • At L’Oréal, the talented managers I have had, made me grow, by leading by example and giving me their clear feedback. I am inspired by the successful leadership of Nathalie Roos, President of L’Oréal Professional Products Division, who is pioneering the new L’Oréal, creating “a great place to win benefiting all”, and by Lubomira Rochet, L’Oréal Chief Digital Officer who is leading the (Digital) Transformation of the Group. I love the fact that they balance family, sport and work at this level of the corporate life. They challenge the status quo and fully embrace their modern and feminine leadership with power & care.
  • External Coach: My L’Oréal Human Resources Manager in Belgium has given me the opportunity to follow a personal coaching programme with Dominique Ringler, a professional coach whose goal is to remove the barriers that prevent the your talent from shining more. This life-changing coaching opportunity has made me grow like no other experience. Thanks to this coaching, I have a better understanding of my roots, of who I am, of my imperfections and talents, of who I want to be. You find so much power and pleasure in WHAT YOU DO, when you know WHO YOU ARE, WHO YOU WANT TO BE and WHAT YOU STAND FOR.
Common opinion states that in order to succeed in business one has to be ruthless. A quick survey of world’s most domineering companies seems to support that view. Do you think it’s possible to be very successful in business and still be a nice/kind person?

I think in the long-term, meaningful goals and positive leadership will always make you win in Business. The old ruthless ways of working have to be over. For instance, in 2017, Uber failures and their value drop is an example of the impact of ruthless leadership.

This mistake comes from the fact that some people think you have to be EITHER powerful and ruthless, OR kind and powerless. I believe in a “Power AND Care” Leadership approach.

As Adam Kahane has brilliantly describes in his book Power and Love, successful change happens when you balance the two.

Let’s talk about managing pressure – how do you control your own emotions and temper when things don’t go to plan? Not lashing out on those around you is a skill – what are your tips?

I think well-managed, sincere emotions can be powerful, even in a work environment.

We are human, not machines.

That being said, stress is contagious. As a leader, managing pressure is essential to make better decisions, to keep enjoying work and providing the team with a good working environment. Though I am far from perfect, I have learnt during the last 3 years to manage my emotions better when undergoing pressure. What helps me:

  • Accept imperfections, be more open and transparent when you meet challenges.
  • Use humour, ask for help and collaboration on a task.

Get good sleep, do exercise, spend quality time with family and friends.

At times, we all hit a low point. How do you motivate yourself?

I have enjoyed each day of my 15 years of work. One thing that motivates me is the purpose of the company: “innovating together for a more beautiful life “ and the other thing is the exceptional talent present in the company. I have a passion for the hairdressing industry that I am working in. Hairdressers are at the same time psychologists, artists, chemists, fashion designers, business owners, team managers as well as beauty-service providers. Discovering each of their entrepreneurial and artistic story and supporting their growth as a person is what makes me happy. Working in the beauty industry is for me as “cool”, motivating or rewarding as working for a start-up incubator. You can really make an impact.

What are your top three book titles that were most impactful for your leadership development?

I read a lot. I found a lot of inspiration in the lives of heroes from French and International History.

  1. In L’Oréal History, Francois Dalle, who I have unfortunately never met, took over the leadership of the company after the founder between 1957 and 1984. He will forever be a guide for me. He was a true visionary, an entrepreneur and an upstanding Citizen. He was an adventurer, a champion of transformation (Tech, Human and Organization) and made “The Grand L’Oréal“. His book, L’Aventure L’Oréal, Francois Dalle, is one of my favourites.
  2. In French History, Mémoires de Guerre, Charles de Gaulle
  3. A Brilliant Business Book: It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best – Claudio Fernandez-Araoz
Team building has become a buzzword in the corporate world, yet many still do not see the value in applying it to their group or organization. What are your beliefs and or successes around team building?

Building happy and successful dream teams is my priority. What my experience has shown me so far is that we need:

  1. Diverse talents that work efficiently together
  2. A shared purpose, a meaningful ‘why’
  3. A clear frame. I am always learning and practising on it.
  4. A positive and collaborative mindset.
  5. Moments of joy and fun, where you can be yourself, express your passions and beautiful imperfections, and connect as humans not only as co-workers.
How do you decide to be available to your team (i.e. text/Email/voice call/video call)? How do you determine the best way for them to contact you that does not interrupt your workflow?

On top of the meetings planned, my team can contact me when they want/ can. I like one-on-one catch-ups to be well prepared so that they are efficient with clear expectations and outcomes.

I am available for my team members during my whole day at the office. I love to be interrupted with great ideas or problems to solve together. Some days my hours are flexible; some days I leave at 5.00pm on the dot to pick up the kids at school. I also respect the team member’s personal priorities.

Video calls are very useful to connect with teams members that are spread all over Canada. I do strategic work before or after the peaks hours at home or at the office while listening to some good classical music.

How do you best separate work life from personal life – for a healthy balance? What are your biggest challenges around this? How does this impact you personally?

I do not believe that we have two separate lives: one personal and one work life.

“I believe that we have just ONE life on Earth that integrates it all, work and personal”

I believe that because time goes fast, we need to enjoy every single moment of it and seize every opportunity to get a positive impact on peoples lives.

I believe that my family moments are nourishing my L’Oréal life and vice-versa. I believe that energy is an endless resource when you have the right purpose.

I am grateful for parenting, arts and sports, as they have taught me to become a better leader.

I am grateful from what L’Oréal taught me, for the amazing people I met that have made me a happier woman and mother.

Explain how you work with HR for recruiting and interviewing. What works for you and how do you handle the interviewing process for vetting candidates?

We work hand in hand with Human Resources. The first interview will always be done by Human Resources to evaluate who is the best candidate and the L’Oréal Culture Fit. Does the candidate share our values? Our quest for Excellence? Our passion for a form of Beauty (it could be sport, art, architecture, sciences)? Then several interviews will be conducted.

During interviews, I love to discover the story of the candidates to better understand who they are and who they want to be. I will always check first the positive and collaborative mindset of our candidates. I will then look for their talents, entrepreneurial spirit, capacity to think outside of the box and to not give up easily. Then depending on the job, I will test their expertise with different scenarios.

I believe that Building Dream teams is one of the most strategic and rewarding part of a Leadership role.