Avon CEO Angela Cretu
"This is not just a job, it's a calling" says Avon CEO Angela Cretu
Avon's CEO, Angela Cretu, will lead the next era of Avon’s transformation as she takes responsibility for business operations outside of Latin America and for the oversight of the brand globally.
Angela has two decades of experience with Avon in various senior executive roles, most recently as Group Vice President and General Manager, Central Europe, responsible for 19 countries. Her career history is impressive and her experience to date means she brings a wealth of knowledge to the CEO position.
Discover Angela's priorities for the role, her passion for Avon's products and the company's culture, and we find out her salient career advice for further professional women.
Congratulations on becoming CEO. What led you to take on the role?
Thank you. Why wouldn’t I take this role?! This is not just a job, it’s a calling. Avon has been creating opportunities for women for nearly 135 years and I’m proud, privileged and enormously excited to be taking on this role as we enter a new chapter in our history.
I have been with Avon for 20 years, in different roles, and have been fortunate to work in a number of countries – from Morocco to Russia to South Africa. And worked with our Representatives and teams in those countries and seen first-hand the impact Avon has on women’s lives. It’s this core purpose – creating opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs in their own way and on their own terms – that gets me out of bed each morning.
I’m excited to take on the global role of CEO, especially at this point in Avon’s transformation journey. I’m greatly looking forward to working with our talented teams to deliver the next era of growth, as part of the Natura &Co family which we joined at the start of 2020. Like our new family Natura &Co we’re purpose-driven at heart, and together we will build the best beauty company for the world.
What are you looking to achieve in the position?
This is a really exciting time for Avon. The opportunities ahead for our Representatives to thrive and Avon to grow are tremendous.
If you were setting up a business today you'd take the Avon model as a blueprint: global reach, keenly-priced and high-quality products, a relationship business, a digitising model perfectly placed to support changing work patterns and female entrepreneurs.
I’m particularly excited about how we empower women across the globe. This year we’ll be focusing on women’s share of voice through our #SpeakOut campaign. Despite the incredible progress that’s been made in women’s empowerment, woman still lack share of voice and representation in all walks of life, from business to politics to the arts.
We’ll kick off the campaign on International Women’s Day, inviting men and women all over the world to join us in speaking out about the barriers which might stop women from having an equal share of voice.
In every language and culture there are words and phrases which negatively stereotype women who do speak up, for example being described as ‘Lippy’, ‘Vorlaut’, ‘Carrierista’ or ‘Mandona’.
The campaign, which will run throughout 2020, calls on people to share their stories and the words they want to reclaim by posting a proud, lippy selfie on their social media channels using the hashtag #SpeakOut. In addition, Avon will collate these stories and share a gallery of inspiring women from across the world.
More broadly, Avon has pledged to donate $10 million across 2020 to causes which help women live safe, healthy and fulfilled lives. This adds to the $1bn we’ve already raised and donated through Avon and the Avon Foundation to date.
What skills are predominantly needed as Avon CEO?
Avon is built on relationships – between Representatives and their customers, as well as between Avon employees and Representatives we support and empower. I want be a connector, an enabler and a multiplier. I’m passionate about connecting people with information and resources so not only so they can do their job well, but feel they are making a meaningful impact. There is no strategy in this world that will win in its game, without the energy of its players.
How would you describe yourself both professionally and personally?
A connector. Self-motivated. Passionate about people and purpose. And I believe in living in the moment – whether that’s in a meeting or at home with my son – be there, be present and you’ll get the most out of each moment.
Avon is known as the 'company for women'. What makes Avon a great place for women to work?
More than two decades after I joined Avon, I am more inspired than ever about our purpose and role in the world. Avon is far more than just a beauty brand; it is a global movement which empowers women. Avon has been making a difference to the lives of women, and the lives of those around them, for more than 130 years.
We run many initiatives, all under the framework of stand4her, our promise to the women who work for us, who work with us, who work in our supply chain, and to our customers to create a better world for women. We want to help more women to earn the money they need to support themselves and their families. We want to democratise beauty for all women. And we want more women to have the information and support to live healthy and safe lives.
The Avon community is about women’s empowerment. Through self-expression, through earning, through inclusion, through community. An individual woman’s empowerment has a ripple effect that is transmitted to other aspects of life, empowering more women and men, wider communities, and future generations. We believe that a better life for a woman means a better world for everyone. When women succeed, we all succeed.
What's most challenging about your role and what's most enjoyable?
I love challenges! I continually challenge myself – to stay current, to try new things, to be the best I can and continue to learn and grow and improve. Every day you need to be able to look at yourself and ask ’would I be the choice today?’ for my team and my customers. You need to work to make yourself the choice – every day.
In my 20 years at Avon, I’ve enjoyed embracing every challenge I get. Being able to see the company through the perspectives of many different markets, to meet Representatives from around the world and to see first-hand the innovation behind our products has been immensely valuable for me.
For women looking to work for Avon, what skills and qualities tend to be most valued?
Skills depend on the role – whether it’s finance, science, digital or sustainability – the list goes on. But the common factor is values. We want people who share our values and passion for ensuring each Representative has an amazing experience.
Can you describe the work culture at Avon?
We are not just a company that sells products. We are not just a beauty company. We are a company that connects women for a higher purpose.
Avon is a company united by the common purpose of empowering women, giving each Representative the chance to earn and learn on her own terms, and raising awareness of causes that matter most to women.
What's your top piece of career advice?
One of the best pieces of advice I got early in my career is that you don’t work for a boss, you work for yourself. You are responsible for setting and living by your values. By taking that power, you can be responsible for your professional development and self-improvement – with help along the way of course.
Tell us about Avon's breast cancer awareness work and and efforts to combat violence against women?
Since 1992, Avon and the Avon Foundation have worked to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer can save lives, yet many women don’t know the signs or symptoms of the disease. We believe that no woman should die because she was left in the dark about breast cancer. It is hugely important to increase knowledge around breast cancer, and what to do if you have symptoms. Over the last 25 years, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women have donated more than $800 million USD to breast cancer causes, and educated 180 million women about the disease, and funded breast health screening for nearly 20 million women.
I also want to highlight our work around violence against women and girls. It is a shocking statistic that one in three women worldwide will be a victim in her lifetime. Yet this is a silent epidemic. Since 2004, Avon and the Avon Foundation have worked to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, to educate, and to develop and implement prevention and direct service programmes, contributing more than $60 million USD globally to support these goals. I am very proud that at Avon, we believe in a world where women and girls are free from abuse.
What Avon product do you particularly enjoy using?
I especially love the new Herstory fragrance, which aims to be the scent of inspiration for all women. t celebrates the experience of being a woman, opening the conversation for women to share their own authentic story of the past and present, whilst coming together to write the stories of the future. The bold and modern Chypre represents today’s strong and modern women, recognising each unique and empowering story of women around the globe. When wear it, I feel I am standing on the shoulders of women before me – together we can do it!
What are your interests outside work?
I spend as much time as I can with my husband and 10-year-old son. It is so valuable to spend time together as a family and have adventures together.
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PARTNER CONTENT: Developed in collaboration to support IWD's Women Empowerment Mission.