Success is defined in different parameters in different situations by different people – never compare your successes or your trajectory to that of anyone else’s – enjoy your time, enjoy learning, make mistakes!
Dan Bethelmy-Rada is the Global Brand President in the L’Oreal Professional Products Division, and at only 40 years old, is the youngest DMI General Manager appointed company-wide, taking over the position in January 2015. Having served almost 15 years with L’Oreal Paris and Garnier brands, Bethelmy-Rada is an innovator in his field, honing skills in marketing and digital strategy to manage brand strategy worldwide while progressing best practices as a proponent for continued education and diversity in the workplace. Overseeing a sizeable and dedicated team, Bethelmy-Rada’s track record for training successful candidates for top marketing positions is unparalleled, and the young marketer continues to press for inclusivity and representation company-wide. Determined, focused and ambitious, Dan Bethelmy-Rada’s leadership is among his top talents as he’s known in his company for encouraging team development and embracing diverse talents that contribute to the success of the Matrix brand. We had the chance to sit down with Bethelmy-Rada to gain insights on the pressures and perks of holding a key position for a global industry titan, discussing his rise to the top, keys to success and tips for balancing career and family.
How did you get started in the beauty industry?
I have spent my lifetime moving internationally and have learned so many things from travelling the globe. I was born in Venezuela, lived in the United States for ten years and moved to Paris when I was 16. Throughout my time spent in different countries, I’ve learned that there is not a singular universal standard for what is considered “beautiful,” and the global industry offers so many different pieces to a puzzle that make my work alive and important and interesting and ever-changing. Photography has always been one of my greatest passions, and I love the challenge of finding beauty in undervalued and underestimated places and subjects.
As a teen I participated in AFS-USA, a study-abroad program that offered life-changing intercultural learning programs. Being in this program at a young age opened my eyes to the possibilities of international relations and opportunities for business. The combination of a lifetime of moving from place to place and a desire to excel in business, I found that I could make a career within the industry after studying International Business at Sorbonne University in Paris. I knew that I wanted to work for an international brand, building marketing initiatives and growing a presence worldwide. My career with L’Oreal began after finishing my MBA from ESSEC Business School in 2002 – within the year I was appointed to the position of Product Manager for LaScad, a cosmetics distribution company owned by L’Oreal that houses a number of different beauty products across categories. This first soiree into the industry allowed me to learn from mentors and apply my studies of international business to grow L’Oreal products around the world. From here, I worked diligently to progress my career, honing my skills through the company’s advertising and marketing initiatives to be named to the L’Oreal Consumer Products Division as Director and then Assistant Vice President of Garnier International, working on the Fructis hair care brand before moving into skincare. As a student in Paris, beauty and inspiration were found in every corner of the city, and it was the culmination of my life experience and studies that really carved out a path for me with L’Oreal.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There’s really no such thing as a “typical day” – the daily grind can be vastly different depending on the project I’m working on at the time, and each project requires me to wear so many different hats. My daily to-do can range anywhere from developing products and drafting service creation; to creating and editing digital and social media; through to the nitty gritty in preparing business models and drafting growth strategies. I see so many faces in my daily, whether it’s members of my team working alongside me in developing a singular vision, or it’s face-to-face with clients. I’m always on the go and there’s tons of travel, tons of meetings. We also find ourselves selling our projects to outside voices, whether in marketing initiatives or collaborations. The most productive days see final decisions and progress into the next steps; but that point comes after days, weeks or months of discussions, brainstorms, preparations, risk analysis and consumer testing. These are the days I thrive – reaching the right people and making the big decisions that continue to grow our brand globally.
How do you bring ideas to life for a global brand?
Like I said, I have always enjoyed photography, and I think it’s a medium that can be both truly personal while also able to reach anybody anywhere on a really visceral level. In a creative sense, I find inspiration in photos and art exhibitions, but I also like to put my ideas into photography, giving life to my concepts through photographs. This isn’t necessarily the final product, but I love to use photography in communicating – even if just to spur a brainstorm session with a group. I have always found inspiration in people, in places. Walking through the streets of Paris is rife with creativity and beauty, taking in so many different types of people of all ages and walks of life. In business, networking with influencers and others in the industry is always really uplifting and helps my creative process. I see inspiration strike in trend reports and social media, both of which I ingest daily and try to not take for granted – there is so much information all around, I try my best to be open to inspiration and capture moments that can translate into great ideas. My team brings ideas to life and is a great source of daily collaborative inspiration – without them, nothing happens.
What’s one trend that excites you?
As far as a marketing trend: I’m really excited about the continuation of using social media as a go-to-market strategy. For a medium that’s so new and only really harnessing its current potential as of the last couple years, marketers around the world are curious to see what’s next in the age of Instagram and social media. We keep finding new ways to employ these platforms, and as they grow and become more intuitive, the sky is really the limit for both companies and consumers – we’re mutually benefitting from smart capabilities, and that is really beyond exciting. It’s exhilarating to be in a field that not only keeps up with these trends but is on the cutting edge of pushing the moment forward. As far as beauty trends that I’m loving: we’re seeing more experimentation with hair color and technique – Pantone’s “Living Coral” 2019 Color of the Year was rocked across runways, while everyday men and women (not just celebs and runway models!) are sporting unnatural and bold locks, from light coral to deep purple and everything in between. I think it’s great to have fun with it, take a nod from high fashion and make it your own – I love to see designers having a light-hearted moment with something that feels so young and fresh.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
Work-life balance plays a vital role in my productivity. My husband and kids come first, but there is a ton of planning and lots of scheduling that go into our day-to-day. I have been with my husband for 13 years and we have together adopted two beautiful children – one boy and one girl. For family time, I like to make a plan and stick to it, and I think that’s a good recipe for success across the board, whether that’s in your career or in your personal life. My husband and kids help keep me grounded and the time I get to spend with my family is priceless and so necessary to overall health and happiness. On top of that, I work anywhere and everywhere, around the clock managing clients and global projects. There’s no “off” button but keeping priorities in line is key.
What are some areas in which your professional and private lives meet?
Through L’Oreal, I have been given the unique opportunity to represent causes that I hold near and dear. I am part of OUT at L’Oreal, an organization that celebrates the LBGTQ+ community and inclusivity, and I’ve collaborated with the organization on Gay Pride initiatives. I have also had the opportunity to participate in the L’Oreal Seminar, speaking on diversity and inclusion at the Harvard Kennedy School. It has been an honor to be included for this, and I was among the most engaged participants in the entire seminar. Furthermore, L’Oreal has allowed me to pursue rewarding charitable initiatives, and I’ve worked closely with the International Rescue Committee in refugee missions that expand entrepreneurial education and opportunities in the beauty industry for refugees working with the program around the world.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would absolutely say that there is ample time to continue learning, continue growing, and there’s no “right” age or time to live your dreams. As a student, I was hungry to start my career and eager for success, but looking back I think the best advice for myself would be to say: “you have time.” It’s great to be ambitious, and I don’t like to sit still, but I probably worried too much about what would be, and I think the best advice is but enjoy the moment. Success is defined in different parameters in different situations by different people – never compare your successes or your trajectory to that of anyone else’s – enjoy your time, enjoy learning, make mistakes! Getting it wrong is an essential opportunity to grow and get it right the next time around.
As a marketing executive, what are your tenets of success?
Number one: it is my policy that you have the most dedicated ambition on every single project, every single time – this goes as a personal expectation for myself but also for my team. It is my goal to present my very best work every single time and never accept anything status-quo or mediocre. It’s important that my work reflects my highest effort, and I expect the same for anyone who we work with at L’Oreal – high expectations yield exceptional work.
Prioritize and keep a strict schedule. Another key to success is prioritizing tasks and is essential in harmonizing a work-life balance. If not prioritized, a tight schedule can lead to missed tasks, but if important responsibilities are prioritized at the top every single day, I’ll always know that I’m doing the most important thing I can be doing at the moment. Don’t be afraid to prioritize your personal life into these tasks as well, it helps to keep family at the top of the list and make the time to decompress every single day.
Push the limits. I encourage my team to think outside of what we’re doing, to see beyond a singular project. Points of inspiration are building blocks and we can always think bigger, go higher. While we’re developing ideas and projects, constant benchmarking is key – check our performance against outside criteria and compare current status with the beginning of the idea and early expectations.
Use inspiration, and when copying something you’ve previously seen or worked on, do it better and do it faster. With this mentality, ideas expand and are allowed to grow.
Communication is key. Over communicate. Say it twice and have them say it back. Ask questions and ask for detailed answers. When expectations are set, say it. It’s almost cliché that we talk about communication or using “communication is key,” but time and time again I have found that our greatest collaborative successes come as a team when we’ve exhausted a topic and finish each other’s sentences, and our biggest setbacks have been on the back of miscommunication and assumptions.
What is a habit that makes you and your team more productive?
We set aside time each morning to think and find inspiration. By consuming the daily intake of media and trends within the industry, we can get a handle on what others are doing and find inspiration to take our projects to the next level. I also make it a habit to really get to know my team – learning how people communicate affects the flow of our work sessions, and I think that an empathetic leader takes queues from the people around him and can adapt to different environments. I encourage my team to not only continue the bonds amongst our own crew, but to challenge each other to meet and talk to new people and find inspiration in the real world.
What is one failure you’ve had in your professional career, and how did you overcome it?
One time I had a huge misstep that was hard for me personally and professionally was in trying to get backing for Matrix’s Brand Mission that I work with through the International Rescue Committee, helping refugees across the world. I was unconvincing and unprepared to outline goals and benefits for my brand. After this happened, I was determined to become more engaged personally by donating to this mission personally each month as it has become very close to my heart.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love to create a travel app that can do it all: hire a staff to help you pack, instinctually know your type of travel preference and activities, book room and board, make reservations at your favorite restaurants, schedule out your perfect vacation days and meticulously plan based on your preferences!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Dinner with my husband yesterday! With everyone’s hectic schedules and family time, we really enjoy the times we can just have to ourselves – best accomplished with the best food and drinks!
What software and web services do you frequently use? What do you love about them?
I love a good app that can make my life easier! We use apps like seamless and minibar religiously. If a couple bucks can get me a delivery and I can use that time doing something else or checking off another task, I’m all for it. If Minibar is delivering wine, even better. On the other side of the coin, I think Instagram is still leading the game in social media in every way – I use it personally, I use it professionally and I use it for daily inspiration, and the possibilities of using Instagram as a marketing tool are on the rise.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love Tangled. It teaches the reader so much about teenage girls but also dispels the old “prince charming” trope that has always received the big storylines. Tangled teaches us all that bravery and kindness aren’t saved for one gender and explores the American family relationship.
What people have influenced your perspective on business, and might be of interest to others?
Cyril Chapuy: As the worldwide Division President for L’Oreal, Chapuy is a living example of excellence, hard work and resilience in creating and maintaining a global brand identity.
Nathalie Roos: As L’Oréal’s Executive Committee as President of Professional Products Division, Roos is a model for developing consumer centricity, creating experiences that keep our customers first.
Arnaud Jeanteur: As my boss, Head of the Professional Division DMI Brands, Arnaud has always encouraged everyone around him to have fun with what they’re doing and enjoy the fruits of success. Don’t take yourself too seriously and love what you do.
Jeff Bezos: Bezos teaches to follow ambition without limits and use our determination as a starting point for success.
Steve Jobs: Jobs met creativity and ambition with a passion for work and for people, and his ingenuity and leadership made him one of the greatest leaders of our generation.