career profile | L’Oreal’s management trainee program

What a savvy, sexy, cool career profile I have in store for you today. Working for an international, highly regarded cosmetic brand – Jess has insight into ‘that’ world I have only dreamed about. I have had the pleasure of working with Jess and know first hand her determination, work ethic, passion and drive for anything she does and outstanding fashion sense, I knew nothing but success would come her way. Jess packed up and moved to the bigger smoke landing her role at L’Oreal. What an experience…

Jess Virgin | L’Oreal’s Management Trainee Program 

Brief description of your role:
At the moment, I am completing L’Oreal’s Management Trainee Program – which is basically another name for a Graduate Program.

I started this in January 2014 after doing a 1-year internship in 2013 in the Redken marketing team (within the L’Oreal Professional Products division).

The Management Trainee Program consists of 3 x rotations of 4 months each – so it goes for 1 year in total. Which means you can get to try a few different roles (for example; you could end up in a Sales role for a while, or in Category Management, or Account Management, or within another marketing team … basically all within the “Marketing Pipeline” i.e they wouldn’t put Marketing Graduates in the Warehouse picking stock, or in Finance, or anything!).

For my first rotation I worked in the Independent Pharmacy division in a Sales role, where I spent a lot of time on the road with our Sales team who would visit Pharmacies such as Terry White, Amcal/Amcal Max, Good Price, etc.

At the moment I am working in the Lancôme marketing team within L’Oreal Luxury Products Division as part of my second rotation for this year.

Jess Virgin Image 2So… what do you actually do?
My role varies day-to-day. Some days are occupied with back-to-back meetings and you feel like you can never tick anything off your list!

We have a weekly WIP with our Marketing Manager and the rest of the team, where we go over our main priorities for the week. Depending on the brand or category you work in; these priorities can include bringing together a new product launch, analyzing sales results, organizing an event, or preparing a presentation for Management on the result of a recent in-store activity or product launch.

My daily tasks might include proofing POS artwork for a new product launch; updating our social media pages and creating content plans for the future; updating our brand websites or eDMs with new information; creating new offers for future promotions; sourcing gift-with-purchase products or POS displays; liaising with our Sales Teams; liaising with Brand Ambassadors and trade media, or speaking with our International counterparts (i.e. New Zealand, Paris or New York).

Being part of the Marketing team means you work closely with the Sales team, also. So regardless of role or brand, I have always regularly visited stores and spent time working with our Beauty Advisors, Area Managers, etc. I always find this super insightful because the sales teams are never afraid to give honest feedback and tell you what works/doesn’t work in the real world of retail!

We do a lot of presenting to our fellow colleagues – either on an immediate team level or to the entire division – on a regular basis. Even as Interns and Graduates, we are frequently given the opportunity to have discussions with or present to Senior Management – which sometimes makes L’Oreal feel like a smaller company than it actually is! It can be daunting, but it’s great for your development as a professional in the long run.

How did you get to your position of working at L’Oreal?
I completed a Bachelor of Management (Marketing) and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) degree at the University of South Australia in 2011.

I supported myself through my Uni years by working as a Promotional Model for an promotions/activations company; where we worked with brands like Coke, Havaianas, Diageo, Telstra, and Samsung. I got to work with these brands on really fun promotions and always in teams of young people. It’s where I learned how to sell these products and work to KPI’s.

In 2010, about a year before I completed my degree, I worked as Marketing Assistant in a small logo design & advertising studio in Adelaide, where I gained some experience in being on the “agency-side”. We worked with predominantly small to medium businesses and many start-ups. The company was quite small with only a few staff, and we were able to work with a lot of new businesses and help them grow; from creating an initial identity for them – so they could step into the market place and get noticed – and then helped them to develop a fully-fledged marketing program to support the initial stages of their new business and help it grow.

After a while, I decided I needed to work somewhere a little bigger, with a few more staff. Marketing is a social occupation, so I wanted to learn to work in a bigger team with other people!

I applied for a Marketing Assistant role at Tomeo & Laslett Pharmacy group (and Claire interviewed me!!). After almost a year, I was lucky to become Marketing Coordinator and was privileged to manage a small team for a while.

I then had some fantastic advice from some friends who were from the Cosmetics industry, who urged me to consider moving into a bigger company that had big Marketing teams, were fast-paced, and had lots to offer for young & inexperienced professionals like me! They suggested companies like L’Oreal – which I ended up applying for online via their website. I applied for the Internship program in August 2012 and moved to Melbourne and started work there in January 2013.

Have you always wanted to work in the marketing area?
I’ve never really known what I want to do. But, I developed an interest in Marketing when I was doing Business Studies as a Year 12 subject. Prior to that I hadn’t known much about what it was – I thought it was just advertising! It was top of my list for Uni courses once I finished high-school so I just went straight to Uni and started the course. I didn’t really think about it too much until my final two years of study, when I started to get real-world experience (not so many textbooks!). From there my interest grew and I’ve enjoyed it so far!

What do you love about your role?
I love that it’s fast-paced and creative. I love to see and hear consumers engaging with the product you have worked so hard to tell people about! I particularly love working with the people here at L’Oreal. I am really lucky to be able to work with all kinds of people – from hairdressers, to make-up artists, to bloggers, to Beauty Editors, to Beauty Advisors, to some of the industry’s most talented Marketing and Sales professionals. There are so many ridiculously intelligent and savvy people in this company who come from all over the world that I get to learn from every day, which I find very inspiring.

In your current role, what has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement has been helping to organise Redken’s involvement at Mercedes-Benz Sydney Fashion Festival late last year. We had a huge consumer sampling stand full of mini Redken shampoos and conditioners, and a team of hairdressers doing the hair for the runway shows backstage. I was very lucky to be able to help put that event together.

Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
Probably attending the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney, where Redken is the Official Hair Partner. It was one week of 16+ hour days on your feet – and we got to mingle with some of Australia’s top models, designers, and media personalities whilst implementing a huge brand animation.


What would be the least favourite aspect of your role?
All of the Excel spreadsheets! I’ve never been good at numbers, so a spreadsheet full of numbers always scares me at first glance and usually takes me a while to get comfortable with it!

Any advice for anyone aspiring to work in the Marketing / Cosmetics industry?
If you can get your foot in the door via an Internship or Graduate program, that’s always a good way to get a well-structured development program and support. I also think any experience you can get before you finish your Uni course is so important in helping you determine whether this is something you want to do or not. It also shows future employers that you’re willing to go above and beyond and you’re not just doing it for the money. I also really encourage getting a mentor or two, even if they’re not in Marketing. If they’re in Cosmetics or business they’re always handy to have for insight and support.

Outstanding career profile that just hits the spot!

Any questions for Jess, working at L’Oreal or the like? Join the conversation below… 

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