Former L'Oréal Exec Nicolas Krafft on Global Perspectives in the Workplace
Swiss-born Nicolas Krafft’s career as the former Marketing Director for industry leader L’Oreal has taken him to countries all across the world. Over the span of 20 years, Nicolas Krafft’s experiences working and traveling abroad helped him develop an encompassing perspective on what defines beauty on a global level. As part of a multinational company, understanding what beauty means to every consumer, regardless of their geographical location, is crucial to fulfilling their needs and expectations. Although there are distinct challenges that arise when conducting international business, Nicolas Krafft believes that embracing these nuances is key to making the difficult task achievable. He recently provided insight into the most vital element of his success in global ventures: immersion.
The challenges of managing globally
While the benefits of traveling for work are tremendous, it presents a unique set of obstacles. The most obvious potential hurdle is a language barrier, which can often hamper communication between parties. The devil is often in the details. The same word can have different meaning across cultures and express a very different reality.
Verbal communication just scratches the surface of difficulties presented while working abroad. Acclimating to each specific individual requires adapting your management style, and usually very quickly. Each country embodies its own approach to life, both professionally and socially.
“The role of a manager is to provide a framework, validate a roadmap, and ensure consistency. That is the common language I have tried to use across all these endeavors,” said Nicolas Krafft.
Basic workplace standards vary widely - such as decision-making processes, levels of urgency, and social interaction norms. Nicolas Krafft believes that becoming familiar with these customs is crucial to establishing a relationship of mutual respect between potential clients and colleagues.
“It forces you to be humble, and ‘un-boss’ to let the local experts make the right decisions,” Nicolas Krafft said. “But it is also refreshing - when I was working in emerging markets it felt like everything was possible, today the digital space allows us to break new boundaries,” he continued. “Focusing on the individual helps break up the culture map and avoid stereotypes. It also presents the opportunity to dispel any stereotypes.
It’s important to understand the region you are in
Aside from the networking opportunities that global expansion can provide, Nicolas Krafft emphasized the importance of exploring each region thoroughly to discover its distinct impacts on the industry. While beauty is a universal concept, ideas of what exemplifies beauty are different all over the world. Social culture plays a large factor in what each individual perceives as beautiful, as well as ethnicity. South America is a prime example of the complexities that come with accommodating a large spectrum of consumers within a geographical location.
“In countries such as Brazil, you have a high diversity of beauty standards. There is a broad range of ethnicities, skin types, hair colors and textures,” said Nicolas Krafft.
The beauty routines need to be adapted as well and are very diverse from one place to another. Brazilian consumers take on a very creative approach and are constantly inventing new routines.” Some approaches, such as Brazilian blowouts, even conquered the world.
Local climate conditions also differ vastly across the globe, presenting unique needs for each geographical region. “The atmospheres are varied, and so is the impact. If you live in a cold climate such as Russia, your skin will have different needs than if you lived in a more humid city, in Indonesia and wear a hijab, for example,” Nicolas Krafft explained. “
For these reasons, Nicolas Krafft emphasizes why diving into those ideas and lifestyles is a significant part of understanding each local market.
“When it comes to challenging your perspective, there is no substitute for experience,” he said. “You do not get this in a book or through short business trips.”
Spend as much time abroad as possible
While many high-level executives of multinational companies travel abroad for business, Nicolas Krafft believes that spending extended time in these countries is key to understanding their people’s perspectives.
“Living in a country allows you to break any preconceived ideas, biases, and cultural stereotypes,” he said. “It has allowed me to go beyond beauty. It arises curiosity and is certainly one of the reasons I have stayed with the same company for over 20 years without becoming bored.”
While celebrating differences across the world was one objective of his job with L'Oreal, Nicolas Krafft recognized some commonalities as well. Throughout his extensive travels, a few common themes have appeared among all cultures. For example, food is undoubtedly a unifying element everywhere. But the way each culture approaches dining varies widely.
“Eating habits are very interesting and distinct from place to place,” Nicolas Krafft explained. “They tell you a lot about a country- its culture, climate, and social connections.”
Successfully conducting international business can be incredibly complex and challenging at times. But overall, Nicolas Krafft expresses gratitude for the immersive global experiences that working for L’Oreal has afforded him.
“I have had the chance to visit over 60 countries -- either as personal trips or for business -- and have lived in 8 of them across North America, Western and Eastern Europe,” Nicolas Krafft said. “Living abroad has been an extraordinary journey for me."
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes