Corrado Giaquinto
General Manager
1997 yılından beri Colgate-Palmolive şirketinde çalışıyor.
One job is to deliver the financial goals, and make my boss happy, but also as General Manager, my responsibility is to grow the organization and its capabilities and also to ensure that the Colgate values are applied in every country. Also in Turkey, I need to assure that the Colgate ethics, the Colgate governance, the Colgate care for the community is replicated.
At 9 o’clock I start to golf, 10 o’clock sailing, tennis 11... And, seriously speaking, every day is different, that’s what is one of the great parts of working at Colgate, especially being a General Manager. We always work with different challenges, but normally I have one or two meetings, not too long, I discuss with my direct reports with the team about some follow-up on issues. I read a couple of reports, analysis. And, that’s pretty much it. Every day, because we’re especially in Turkey, there is always a surprise and we need a small crisis to identify. And if you join Colgate, as part of your program, you will have to spend one day with me, shattering, and then you will see the real thing, how I spend the day.
I started like many of the students, they are probably watching this video, I started as a management trainee, in the US, the General Manager of Colgate US came to the campus of my university, they presented the company, I was attracted. The General Manager now is our CEO, and so I joined, I started in Sales and moved to Marketing, and in Colgate I work for 19 years, in 8 different countries, if I remember them, US, Argentina, France, Russia, Poland, Thailand, Ukraine and Turkey. So, I can say, I’m James Bond without a gun.
What motivates me is that every day is different, and I have the power to create or dismantle things to build stuff to develop people, and the fact that every day I don’t know what’s going to happen, it is an incredible adrenaline rush. And especially when you build something, you eventually see it grow, it can be a small project, a small business or a big one, that’s a great satisfaction.
Two main challenges, the first, as the face of the organization, every single group -we are a big multinational- groups in New York and other divisions, they always start with me. So, I have lots of projects and requests flying from all over, and it is important to keep a strong sense of focus and prioritization to ensure that I don’t distract the organization by cascading them down to all of that. So, identify that what is really that drives the organization; financial results but also the organization growth, is critical and I keep my team focused on that. The second challenge is that as a general manager, I need to set example. So, if I want to drive the values of ethics, of compliance, governance, hard work, accountability, I need to be the first. And that’s not always easy, because we are human, we can make mistakes.
I think at any level of the organization of the career to be successful, you need to have a passion, ownership and adaptability. As you move along the ladder, you need to develop cross-functional experience, be exposed in different parts of the business to keep challenging yourself out of your comfort zone. And as you grow up, eventually GM, I think you need to ensure your legacy, so you need to coach people to make them the GM of the future, but you also need to have a strong decision making capability, having the courage to take some time a decision without full information, taking some risk eventually, and a strong base of analytics and organizational skills to be able to manage multiple tasks, multiple challenges, and keeping the focus is important as well.
Our vision is to be the best consumer product company, but our key values are to deliver continuous improvement, caring and global teamwork. I think we want to be market leader in our strategic category while the same time caring for our people and for the community where we work in.
I think we are a very good school, for student to continue to be student, and there is a very good on-the-job training, they work – we work in a pleasant working environment where managers, including GM, are very accessible, and there is a good teamwork. And if you’re good, then you can have a very rewarding career, including international assignment.
I guess I am a living example of career opportunities, we have relaunched last year, the management trainee program, every year we hire several students, they grow and eventually groom, in different cross-functional assignments, and if they’re good, they can progress also internationally and become CEO. So, the sky is the limit, together with your attitude and capabilities.
I think I would suggest to work for a multinational because you will get a much better training and much better information than in a local company, they are not used to these concepts of trainee or earning career type of things. I also recommend you to at any level, from day one, to always have a strong ownership, a passionate adaptability; they will define your success, and never be afraid to ask questions, that’s how we learn.
Passion, ownership and adaptability and also I would say “luck”, as a fourth one.
Probably, I mean, I didn’t know if I would have made it, because in university I wasn’t the brightest student, I liked to party, maybe too much, but my father has been critical at the end to convince me to leave Italy to move to the States, where I enter into a very good school and that helped me build my career and get here. But if you’d ask me the question when I was in high school, or middle school, I would say, the private detective, or veterinary.
Of course, I am a champion at failing, and I think if you don’t fail, you don’t know how to succeed. I have it here, I actually keep it on my desk: This is a new product that they launched in the year 2003 in France, the first cleaner for floors, Ajax, which has inner freshener in the cap, a revolutionary product in Colgate, everyone was so impressed because of the breakthrough innovation, but after four years, we launched in the test market, and the product failed. The learning was that you need to fight harder, because the very reason that the product failed was other groups boycotting the launch by forcing me to launch with a higher price, cut in the media, different designs… So, fight harder for your ideas and defend them and you know, get stronger facts to convince the skeptical.
I worked many years in innovation so I can tell you that it starts with marketing people, brainstorming with technology people, about consumer needs, competitive launches, or a launch from other categories, and come up with ideas. These ideas are screened, defined, transform into concept, the concept is tested, then the products are developed. So, the fragrance, the formula, the design of the packaging, once the bundle, as we call it, is validated, we move into production. So, the plant is identified, the plant validates it forward to make sure that we can produce it in large-scale. There are some technical validation, to make sure that the product is stable, then we must produce it, and we ship it to our warehouses around the world.

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