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IFM Alumni - USA - Alumni Portrait

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06/05/2020

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Dear Alumni , 


In these challenging times, we felt more than ever the need to strengthen human connections and learn from each other. Sharing inspiring practices is one of our main motivations while we initiate this new series of interviews. 

 

We are glad to start these IFM portraits with an interview of Berta de Pablos Barbier (IFM, GFM 2006). Beyond her diverse career path and learnings, she is thrilled to re-connect with the IFM community and will be happy to pursue giving personal advice and mentoring whomever would like to connect with her.

Berta is currently working from her home in New Jersey and she is telling us how she is facing this new challenge. With experience in the Fashion and Luxury sectors (Boucheron, Lacoste) and the Consumer Goods industry (Mars), she is also sharing details of her career journey and explains how IFM impacted her management style and has helped her to effectively lead her team. 

 

For our next portrait, we will come back to the heart fo the fashion industry,  interviewing another young talent , stay tuned !


USA, April 23rd 2020

Interview by USA IFM Alumni team

BERTA DE PABLOS-BARBIER


Berta is the Global Chief Growth Officer for MARSWRIGLEY. She is passionate about cultivatingmeaningful and emotional connections with consumers and focuses on bringing the positive impact of the Mars brands to life – one example of it is DOVE® Chocolate’s partnership with CARE International pledging $1 million to empower female cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire.


Prior to rejoining Mars, Berta spent over seven years based in France working in the

fashion industry; first as Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications for

Boucheron and then joining Lacoste to lead global marketing for the apparel brand.

She holds an engineering degree from Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in Spain

and an MBA from Institut Français de la Mode in France.


Berta is now in confinement in her home in New Jersey with her husband, her

daughter and her dog, we asked her how COVID 19 has impacted her personal and

professional life during the last 4 weeks:


Living with COVID-19 in the US enables me to experience first-hand the paradigm of

this nation - the continuous struggle between the pursuit of individual freedom and the

participation toward the Common good. We see swinging behaviors and directives that

change from day to day straight from the Whitehouse, state by state and even county by

county. In a liberal economy we see the vulnerable population sharply let down by a

system that was not designed to collectively protect them, giving me perspective to the

social benefits that I have experienced as a European citizen and that I sometimes

underestimate. We see the benevolence of the various charities and the help from the

individual communities. I have seen people in front of their houses with boxes that offer

free food for those in need. And back to the struggle, I have discussions with my

neighbors ranging from pure individualism: “I choose to be sick when I want, I choose

not to wear a mask is my right, social distancing is my choice” with their pursuit of the

common good to “I am part of a community, I follow the rules to stop this fast for my

community, my church is helping, I am giving back”. The ongoing activity of in-home

delivery and take away makes getting the essential items easy, but just delayed by a

couple of days vs what we were used too, easy to cope with... I have to say that the most impactful thing for me was to see that the closed public schools are now open from 11am to 1pm to provide kids with their only warm meal of the day. So Staying Home in the Garden state of NJ, with the spring starting, is bearable even beautiful to

contemplate when you think about your closed circle, painful when you open your eyes

to the tremendous impact this will have as we evolve...




How do you keep up with your team and bring positive energy to them?


I have tripled the frequency of meetings, shorter connections that replace the informal

life connections. In these sessions I allow more time than usual to vent feelings and then we quickly focus on what we can control and act on it. I also spark discussion on thepositives of this situation and remind the team of this motto «In every crisis there is an opportunity » Also I ask them to share something new they have learnt, a relation they have re-linked, a special family moment they have experienced, an acceleration of our digital capabilities, a sharper point of view on the roles of our brands; we also work on changing our own narrative when we are feeling down ensuring that we stay present and bringing us perspective on the numerous crisis humanity has gone through and survivedfrom wars to pandemics. It was this generation’s turn to be part of history. So, in a nutshell it is the power of the mind that will help us to thrive.


In your career, which values have guided your choices and what have been your

main reasons of motivation and satisfaction? Also, could you tell us why you chose

to go to IFM ?


Looking back, I realize that I follow a similar pattern in my decision making - a mix of

heart and mind. On the rational side, I pursue situations that will allow me to learn, it

could be experiencing a new culture in a new country, learning a new industry or getting into a new role. I then look on what value I can add with my experiences and

personality. It is important to me to meaningfully contribute to the project, mission or

role. Finally, I evaluate if the right conditions to succeed are in place, as the Pasteur

quote goes ‘Chance favors the prepared mind” so better not to leave too much to chance.


Having properly evaluated the choice at hand I let my intuition take over, sometimes it

just feels right and you know it sometimes it simply does not. Ultimately, I enjoy

working with people who share my values of fairness, personal vulnerability,

competitive collaboration and a sense of fun. After all you can be serious about your job without being too serious.


I am most satisfied when the impact of my actions are beyond the business results, when what we do has a societal impact. Recently I was very proud for MARS to join the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance and we forged a partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to change the way people are portrayed in advertising We understood how the 340 pieces of content we produce a year represent women and we quickly addressed our deficiencies. Women in business can play a critical role in addressing the gender inequality faced by women. We can use advertising to shape our vision of the society we want to live in, if you can see it you can achieve it. At the time I made the decision to go to the IFM, I had 15 years of professional experience in the FMCG industry in 5 countries from Uk to Russia, Middle East, France and my home country Spain. I had worked in different food categories. I had a successful linear career trained as a brand builder with the consumer in mind. 


All was good and yet I felt something was missing. I observed from afar the luxury & fashion industry and I was intrigued about the powerful connection they establish with their clientele and the role that brands played in shaping culture. In addition I wanted to learn the mindset needed to constantly fuel creativity. 


After going back to Mars, did you feel that the experience you had in Fashion and

Luxury had changed your vision and your way of working and managing a team?


Absolutely! It changed everything. Let me start by how we build brands, we were very

TV focus and underused the role of brand events and PR which is the opposite of

fashion. One of my first projects was to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the M&M’s

brand. It was obvious to me having been part of the 150th anniversary of Boucheron and the 75th of Lacoste, that when an Iconic brand makes it to 75, you have to celebrate it, create an event and make noise. I was surprised when I had to convince the organization that it was worth celebrating that our audience would love it. Having been in fashion, I knew the next step would be to go the archives of the brand history, its origins, and that is exactly what I did. We launched the old packs of M&M’s one per decade starting in the 40’s as a limited edition. I also learned how to be part of culture so rather than go for a TV campaign we collaborated with Zedd and Aloe Black for a new edition of the Sammy Davis Jr. song Candy Man that was launched as a musical video Grammy teaser.

We had other artistic collaborations like KAWS VR experience. And of course we had

an epic birthday party with media attendance. I would not have thought about all this

without my experience in the fashion industry. All of this led to a record brand performance, positive brand sentiment and great collaborations with our retail partners.

As for managing teams I have learnt to follow my intuition, to be comfortable with the

undefined and the un-measurable. 

I do my best to cultivate that with my teams, we will never have all the answers and certainty, but we do have enough to start, I tell them. I get nourished by diversity and of thinking of different personalities and of course we need gender and color diversity. In fashion I learnt to work with very distinct personalities, it is a strength to be able to bring our own self to work every day with our distinct opinions and courage to go into the unknown. In the current challenging situation, what are the main issues you are facing ? 


What have you changed in your day to day life to adjust to this situation ?

Like everyone, I am doing my best to stay calm in times of uncertainty, trying to learn to plan for the short-term and plan multiple scenarios for what may happen without getting emotionally attached to any plan in particular. I am reflecting a lot on what is the big message for the all-powerful and in-control humans defeated by an invisible

microscopic enemy that can’t use words to create trouble. I try to imagine how we need to rewire our view of what will fulfill our lives and to re-invent new ways of being

happy and help our communities. In a world that will be scarfed for some years to come, as a business we focus first on the safety of our employees in all our production and retail sites, we are rethinking our brand plans to move away from Ads and to ensure that our brands are there to help our costumers how they need to be helped. We are preparing for the new behaviors we anticipate as a result of social distancing. And as I write this on the 23rd of April and I look through my window, nature push me to keep ready for the unexpected see timid snowflakes falling on …

Berta currently resides in New Jersey with her family.


You can follow Berta on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


USA, April 23rd 2020

Interview by USA IFM Alumni team

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