Gemma Carbonell (ADE 97), Senior Vice-President of Human Resources at Coty Europe

Gemma Carbonell has been working for the American company Coty for over 15 years, which completed the integration of the Specialty Beauty Business of Procter & Gamble in 2016. Over the course of her professional career, throughout her roles of responsibility in local, regional and global areas, she provided support to both the Operations and Business sides of the company. In addition, she has managed transformational projects on a worldwide level.

-What does your role as Senior Vice-President of Human Resources in Geneva involve?

Coty is a matrix organisation which operates with three business divisions and several key support areas such as Human Resources. In my position, I provide support as a Business Partner to one of the Divisions at European level, as well as coordinate the Human Resources teams in all European countries and manage labour relations throughout Europe.

-You have worked for Coty for over 15 years. How would you evaluate your career in the company?

Coty is a large company with a “start-up” mentality. The transformation process that Coty has undergone over the years is remarkable. The fact that I have had the opportunity to develop professionally as well, gives me great personal satisfaction. Every project that I have undertaken has given me a chance to lead various organizations, in many countries, at different moments of the company’s evolution, giving me a deep understanding of its business opportunities.

-What are the company’s medium-term objectives in Europe? How are these objectives supported by the Human Resources department?

Coty is a very dynamic company that is constantly striving to grow both organically and through new acquisitions. In the short and medium term, Coty is currently finalizing the integration of its recent acquisition of the Specialty Beauty Business of Procter & Gamble. It is important to ensure that all of Coty’s employees are aligned with the Culture and Values of the “new Coty” which emerged from this process. Since the number of employees of the teams integrated from P&G was larger than Coty’s initially, the project was managed as a merge. The two companies had different cultures, therefore the transformation process persists and requires a strong support of the Human Resources teams.

-How does Coty retain talent?

We believe that incorporating new talent is crucial and, therefore, we pay a lot of attention in managing it with excellence from day one. Guaranteeing a perfect match with the Coty values is key in order to retain them on a mid and long term.

Coty is a company where all employees can make an impact. Our employees are entrepreneurs, passionate about challenges and used to work in changing and often complex environments. People who are not comfortable working in this type of environment are the ones that tend to look for other opportunities outside of Coty.

-What are the greatest challenges for the perfume and cosmetics sector? And in the field of Human Resources?

Just like most other sectors, beauty industry is changing. Today, our old time competitors are no longer the only ones. Now, there are companies with a strong market presence that didn’t even exist 5 years ago. Internet facilitated the creation of online companies that offer a completely different business model. In addition, new brands have been developed, distributing their products through boutique chains, something that had transformed the relationship with the traditional clients.

Consumers are no longer just looking for a specific product, but rather a new experience. And moreover, the social networks have changed our buying habits. The Human Resources department is adapting to these business changes at the same time, transforming itself as a function. We need to provide more added value to the business whilst guaranteeing in the same time an excellent execution of the basic processes such as: compensation and benefits, labour relations, communication, management change, etc.

-What qualities do you value most in your team?

Listed in no particular order: transparency, entrepreneurship, privileged action based on what is best for the company in the medium and long term, that each employee has deep knowledge of their area of expertise and that they perform their job in an excellent manner.

-What professional possibilities does Geneva offer as a city?

Geneva is a medium-sized city, however, it is the home of a number of important international organizations. Many of these companies, which have a strong international influence, have their headquarters in Geneva, or nearby.

-In 2015, you moved from Granollers (Barcelona) to Paris. What did this international move mean for you?

It was a fantastic personal and family experience that I had been looking for years. Leaving your own country is the best way to learn and understand other people’s values and points of view.

Improving your language skills, discovering other cultures, having to start from scratch… have been one of the best experiences that my family and myself have ever lived.

-After your experience in Barcelona, Paris and Geneva. What experiences have influenced you most in your career?

At every stage of my career I have faced complex situations. Sometimes these challenges have taken place on a personal level and other times on a professional level. Yet, each of these have taught me lessons that have ultimately helped to shape my personality, as well as my leadership style. The experiences of living in a foreign country make you become more independent since you don’t have the same resources and therefore stimulate you to be more efficient and more creative.

-How has ESADE helped you on a personal and professional level?

ESADE instilled my confidence through knowledge and relations, which are some of my most cherished values. With these two levers you can move the world.

Gemma Carbonell
Gemma Carbonell
Gemma Carbonell obtained a Degree in Psychology from the University of Barcelona (1981-1986), a Master’s Degree in Human Resources with Consultores Españoles (1988-1990) and a Diploma in Business Management (ADE) from ESADE (1996-1997).
Over the course of her professional career, she has been the Human Resources Director at Rockwell Automotive (1986-1992), at Fundación Hospital Asil de Granollers (1992-1999), and at Samsung Electronics (from 1999 to 2001).
As of 2001, she started working for the American cosmetics company Coty as a Human Resources Director. In 2005 she had overall responsibility for Human Resources Operations, and in 2011 she made the international leap to become Global Vice-President of Human Resources for Prestige Division in Paris. Finally, in 2016, she moved to Geneva to start in her current position as a Senior Vice-President of Human Resources Europe.