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.
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.
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.
Passion, ownership and adaptability and also I would say “luck”, as a fourth one.
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.