Transcription du Career Success Podcast d’août 2016 avec Éric de Cozar, par Lauren Stiebing, fondatrice de LS International.
Today on the career success podcast we will be speaking with Eric de Cozar. Eric has 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing within large blue chip organizations such as Kraft Foods, Ferrero, and Diageo. He has had many successes throughout his career such as Global Business development – Carrefour Group where he achieved and average Net sales growth at +7% for 3 years which was above the Market & Customer trend and his current role Country Director Switzerland and President Diageo France where he successfully manage Euro/Swiss currency crisis. We are so happy to have him here today as a guest, welcome Eric.
1. What are some of the key thoughts behind the career decisions you made to be where you are today
Well, I think the first big decision I made was to accept starting my career as a sales rep. and then take time to climb in the organization step by step. I can remember some of my peers in Business school aiming for leadership roles as a starting point. You know, every one at that time wanted to work in Marketing or finance. Most of them finally landed in similar roles, the only difference is that it just took a couple of months and they just started later. I must admit I am proud of being humble which doesn’t restrain from being ambitious.
And my second strong decision was to never fall into comfort zone and try to always challenge myself and change role to learn new things. It doesn’t mean being impatient (however I must acknowledge I am) but really be open for new challenges.
2. What would you suggest to junior talent looking to grow and be a country director level one day?
- My first advice for young graduates would be to not be afraid to start bottom of the scale and grow step by step.
- In addition, I would suggest, when changing role, to not hesitate to make some transverse move even if it is not a promotion. It’s always better to learn new skills and get exiting experience rather than sleeping in a role for more than 3 or 4 years.
- Another important recommendation I would give and that I always applied to myself is: Be positive. Try to understand the company leadership standards and check what you can do with it. As an example: Think about your N+2 and wonder what are his needs and priorities in order to be of help.
It is important to understand that most of big FMCG companies are looking for people who are “Authentic but with skills” (which means: be able to stand for what they believe but express it positively). And they also like people who can “create possibilities” (stand in the future and turn big ideas into reality)
- Last, i would just remind that the most important thing to do if you want to make a great career is to deliver consistently great performance! So, stay focus on priorities guys 😉
3.How has your leadership experience helped you get to where you are today?
- My leadership style can be summarized in one quote: “Value fact over bullshit, walk the talk and be loyal!” This is my moto and I try to stick to it.
- More concretely, as a leader and as a manager my objective is to create conditions for people to succeed. I always try to provide context to my team, share a vision to inspire them, explain the strategy to show how we’ll get there. Then, I really pay attention to systems, tools, training and coaching to ensure they can do it. Last, when this is achieved, i stretch my teams positively. I am asking for the best and for more. I can’t remember who said this but I like it very much: someone said “He didn’t know it was impossible, so he did it”.
- but talking about leadership, I really believe Leadership is not only a matter of charisma. It is also a matter of reputation. It is important to market yourself and build your personal brand. Think about what you would like to be known for? I personally decided to become a “Negotiation expert”. So, I not only practiced negotiation at senior level during 10 years as Global customer director but I studied and i learned a lot on the topic. I wrote a book published in France in 2013 and I am now a lecturer in business school. This is a passion but also a kind of signature.
4. What tips would you give to young talent to indentify and live their leadership possibilities?
The best way to do it is to draft your leadership purpose. I tried to define my mission and what I want to stand for in relation with my passions, my values, what I am and what I like. And I came to the conclusion that my mission on earth is to “Fulfill a rich life on all fronts”. From a professional point of view I want to make a difference for people and business, making right decisions and from a personal perspective I aim to inspire, feed, and protect my family and friends making sure they are happy in life.
I strongly believe it can help to put on paper what kind of leader you want to be.
1. What do you see as the recent changes and trends in the consumer goods industry?
The acceleration of information flow, namely on social medias, as well as consumer maturity increase the risks for companies in term of reputation and image.
And this comes with the raising importance of CSR (corporate social responsibility) : “Be a good citizen, don’t hurt the planet, watch your carbon footprint, make business responsibly” is the kind of company priorities we can ear everywhere today.
Another trend, clearly less positive, is the kind of permanent “Price war” consumer goods industry face everywhere. Retailers are fighting to be price competitive and this drive the value down. This is supported by governments who appreciate low inflation in current economic context. However this is done through strong pressure on suppliers
2. What will that mean for the industry?
First of all, the Legal and compliant departments are taking more and more space. This is a must however, it sometimes slows down decision process and limit risk taking.
Regarding the increase share of voice on CSR projects, I see this as a positive trend. It forces big companies to behave and create new opportunities.
For all about price competition, the consequence is less positive. Branded product companies have to reduce dramatically their investments in Media and R&D. And they currently all are trying to implement new programs called “Productivity” or “transformation” to protect their profit. Improving productivity is a positive business decision as long as it is not translated into “stream lining organization” or “cost killing” initiatives. Destroying value and protecting profit can’t be a recommended model. I prefer investing is growth initiatives.
3.How has e-commerce changed the industry? How will it continue to change?
- For the time being, the % of sales driven by e-commerce in food industry is limited. The ideal business model is not yet clear. Other consumer goods industry are more impacted. However everyone agree to acknowledge this is just a matter of years and even months. When it will start, it will go fast.
- Digital is more advanced and no brand can be built nor communicate without brilliant use of new technologies today.
What is for sure is that future talents experts in ecommerce and digital have a bright future ahead.
Recruitment and Talent
1. How have you seen talent management change and evolve since you were first a manager?
Talent management has originally been conceived as programs to help manage people from “pre-hire to retire”. Today it is more a way to retain talents.
There is more unemployment but it is harder to find and retain talents. In my opinion it has to do with the new generation relation toward work and companies but also to companies structured differently. They are building and relying on processes and systems to be less dependent to people. This is called “matricidal organization”.
This sometimes trigger a lack a trust from both side.
2. Where do you think talent management will be 5 years from now?
- I think we’ll progressively move from automated or integrated talent management (rely on integrated process, tools) to people management (trying to Empower and engage) and working on culture, diversity, environment
- My second guess is a bet. I see what I call “Talent Sharing” increasing a lot. I believe more and more young talent will act independently as consultants and companies will hire specific talents on demand. This will offer freedom and independence to employees (however less job and revenue security) and more flexibility to companies.
3.When you interview someone, what are the key areas you are looking to find out more?
- My very first criteria is to value Attitude over Aptitude. I always prefer someone who will have to learn but is really keen for it. You can develop your skills and knowledge…attitude is more difficult. I prefer Energy provider over Energy vampire.
- I namely try to understand what is the real motivation and why…I prefer someone who is hungry , who have to prove and is keen to learn rather than a supposed star full of skills… I prefer to grow people in trust.
- In term of format, I really do my best to put candidate at ease. I’ve often met stressed candidates who are losing their capacities in interviews. I want to see people at their top in best conditions and not only the best performers in interviews.