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I had the opportunity to interview Esi Eggleston Bracey who was most recently the President of Coty’s Consumer Division. In this role, Esi oversaw brands such as COVERGIRL, Clairol, Max Factor, Rimmel, Sally Hansen, and others.

From an outsider’s perspective, everything about Esi’s career and upbringing seemed unique. She was on the math team in high school. Was planning on becoming a doctor but ended up switching to general Brand Management at P&G. Was the first African American woman to get promoted to a General Manager role at P&G. While all of this may seem unique, I got the sense that Esi didn’t see it that way. She was instilled from a young age that she could do anything in life.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

  • At the age of 3, Esi’s mother moved her and her brother to Champaign, Urbana so that she could go to Law School. Her mother was only in her early twenties. What she remembers of her childhood are stacks of thick textbooks, late night study sessions and watching her mom chase after her dreams with an incredibly pure spirit.
  • Over the years, Esi has become one the most important people in the beauty and cosmetics industry. Yet one would never have guessed that she studied engineering in College and was originally pursuing a career in medicine. It was fun to learn how much she enjoyed math. She was on the math team and would beg her friends in school to do their math homework.
  • After doing biomedical engineering internships in College, she realized that the medical and engineering industry was not for her. Corporate recruiting helped her discover Brand Management. After graduating, she joined P&G. She originally planned to spend no more than five years at P&G but new challenges kept getting presented to her. She went onto spend more than 25 years at the company.
  • She seriously considered leaving P&G for other opportunities and this happened three times. Each time she considered leaving, P&G presented her with a new challenge which kept her going.
  • A couple of interesting brand stories. Esi was involved in the launch of Febreze when it was just a “startup” and a new idea. It is now a billion dollar brand. One of her more memorable projects was working on Comet. She dreamed up of an idea to utilize the tape that sealed each canister as real estate to advertise photos of other products that Comet sold. The idea worked and ended up significantly driving new sales to other Comet products.
  • On rookie management mistakes, she had a rude awakening when she was in her early 20s. She was working with a team of 10 people, all who were older and more experienced than her. She was given a target by her boss to go after and so she started giving marching orders to everyone on the team. While she ended up getting what she needed to get done, she was completely unaware of the negative impact she was having on others. At the end of the project, she was given feedback others that they didn’t feel empowered and that she had blinders on and didn’t care to get input from others. From that experience, she learned that you can’t treat people like they are an engineering problem and that you have to find a way to empower people towards a common goal. One cannot lead if others are not willing to follow.
  • She was initially reluctant to move back from Maryland to Cincinnati because she didn’t think her husband would want to move to Cincinnati. But her husband was incredibly encouraging and also willing to be adventurous. He offered to move because he felt that it would be a great opportunity to advance her career. Similar to my interview with Vineet Mehra where we discussed the importance of having a great life partner, Esi echoes the same message.
  • After becoming a mother, she had to change her approach to work. She could no longer spend a lot of time on things like speaking engagements, networking beyond what was required for work, or even having broad friendships outside of her core – work, children, husband and family. Having kids forced her to focus on the things that truly mattered to her.
  • While she traveled more than 300,000 miles last year, I was impressed to learn that no matter where she was in the world, she would always make it a point to speak to her kids everyday.
  • After going through the merger with Coty, she wishes that she left P&G five years earlier to get exposed to a more diverse work environment. While P&G is a great company, it also has a strong promote from within culture which creates an environment where people share similar perspectives. She encourages people to explore different environments sooner in their career.

You can get the full story by listening to the SoundCloud link below.

Daniel: [00:00:00] Today on “Connections.”

Esi: You know, saw the mission, boom. Go, aim, fire. And, you know, coming out of that experience, I got done what I needed to get done but the feedback that came from that was, you know, “Esi has blinders on, I’m not sure I wanna work on her team, she doesn’t value our opinions…” [00:00:30] and it was an “A-ha.” I just had no idea. I was, you know, again, I was fairly young, straight out of school, used to managing projects and getting things done but not as much as, you know, [00:45:00] I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just about doing what my boss asked me to do and that was a change moment for me.

Daniel: In case this is the first time you’re listening to us, my name is Daniel Rodic and I’m your host here at “Connections” as well as co-founder of Exact Media which is the company behind this podcast. We created [00:01:00] this podcast to connect you, our listeners, to the leaders and legends in marketing and advertising industry. Every episode, it’s our job to tell their life stories and hope that you will be able to learn from their experiences and pick up some tips, tricks and tactics to accelerate your career. So you have a bit of context, Exact Media works with marketers to help them drive trial, conversion and acquire customers for their business by enabling them to distribute physical offers, whether it be a sample, a gift card or a coupon into consumers’ [00:01:30] homes using the excess space in e-commerce parcel.

For example, if you’re buying running shoes online, a brand could include an actual granola bar in that parcel or a gift card or a coupon to get one dollar off that granola bar in the store. If you are a marketer that’s trying to drive trial for your product or aggressively you’re trying to acquire customers in a new channel, I encourage you to visit us at www.exactmedia.io to learn how we can help you.

Now, on to the episode. Today’s [00:02:00] guest is Esi Eggleston Bracey, former President at Coty. Esi is a powerhouse. Growing up in Illinois, she grew up a Math geek but after a few internships in Biomedical Engineering, she realized that the industry was just not for her. Instead, through recruiting she discovered Proctor & Gamble, a place she never really anticipated to stay long term but ended up being there for 25 years as every time she thought of leaving, she was presented with a new challenge [00:02:30] in her career. Similar to our other guests, Esi had a very global career which she was able to pursue because of a very supportive partner and family. To give you some context, last year she flew over 300,000 miles. Wow.

My favorite piece of advice that she talks about during the interview is how she makes here decisions. She has established six core values that she lives by. That is her foundation. When things fall out of these core set [00:03:00] of values, that’s when she knows something is off and it signals to her that she needs to course correct. This one is a good one so here it is, Exact Media’s CEO, Ray Cao and his interview with Esi Eggleston Bracey.

Ray: Esi, thank you so much for doing this interview. You know, I know that you’re on a sabbatical right now and probably having a little too much fun in life [00:03:30], but if you can quickly share what your most recent role is.

Esi: Yeah, thank you for asking me, Ray. Most recently before my sabbatical, I was President of Coty Inc. Global Consumer Beauty Division. That division is the business that primarily goes to marketing mass across cosmetics, hair colorants, mass fragrances and our body business that was headquartered here in New York.

Ray: [00:04:00] Awesome, awesome. So I’m gonna roll it back a few years to childhood. You know, I’ve done a lot of reading on your life, analyzed all parts of it and incredibly fascinated by this journey that you’ve gone through, but maybe walk me through what childhood was like and what, some of the more memorable stories or moments you have of growing up.

Esi: Yeah. I’m from Chicago, Illinois [00:04:30] originally and I’m very much a city girl at my heart and I have younger brother, he’s two years, my junior, and my mother and father are still in Chicago now and, you know, childhood for me was just memories of growing up in Chicago. Some of my memories, my father is a school teacher and my mother is an attorney and she still practices to this day, and my early memories, some of the ones that stand out the most [00:05:00] for me are remembering, I was probably three when my mother who early on before being a lawyer was a school teacher like my father decided that she wanted to be a lawyer.

And I remember my mother going through the process of deciding to go law school and my brother and I moving from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana, which is a small town in Illinois, to support my mother in law school while my father stayed behind [00:05:30] because of the family base being in Chicago. And watching my mother, quite young, she was in her early 20s with two children just, you know, doing it, she’s, you know, “I want go to law school. I have two kids, and that’s not a problem. We’ll make it work.” And late nights, I remember my mother with her highlighter pen, her thick books, in a three-year-old’s mind, four-year old’s mind books seemed ginormous [00:06:00], you know, reading them and law school. And then she graduated from law school, passed the Bar and moved to Chicago and practiced. So that’s a still very vivid memory today when I look back.

Ray: Wow. I don’t know if you’ve had this conversation with your mom but was that common back in the day for someone to be going to school and to have two kids that they had to take care of while they were not studying and going crazy?

Esi: [00:06:30] I’m sure she was the only one who was doing that so I don’t know if it was common but I think there was a, it’s a bit of purity and naivety in it for her. While we were in Chicago, my grew up in California and she’d originally started school at UC Santa Barbara and similarly, a bit naively, she said, “I’d like to go to Chicago” where her family had relatives, and then she’s, “Oh, I wanna go to law school.” But she just [00:07:00] didn’t consider practical concerns if you will, or things that might have us say, “Well, we can’t do something” and I remember that, you know, very much when growing up. It wasn’t like, “People say I shouldn’t do this, I’m gonna do it anyway.” It wasn’t this strong determination that you might think, it was more of a pure spirit. “Oh, I’d like to do that, let’s just do that.” There was almost a grace in it so it didn’t feel difficult, you know, it was almost [00:07:30] natural and that was completed and it was time for the next thing to do.

Ray: I’m gonna read this quote that I found in an interview that you did with BET probably a few years ago, and it’s about your mom, and one thing you’d said was, she, your mom, “took on every single challenge that you could look at and say it’s not possible and make it seem like nothing,” and there’s this line of “impossible is nothing” [00:08:00]. I’m curious as to what does that mean to you and how has it impacted you in the way you’ve approached life up until this point in time?

Esi: Really, we’re only limited by what we can imagine and for me, context is everything and “impossible is nothing” is really, you imagine something and in the context of current reality things don’t seem possible [00:08:30] but clearly, they are. There’s so many examples of that. Technology today, at one point we could never imagine flying an aircraft, the penetration of mobile phones and the internet, we could never imagine that, they’re all things that seemed impossible and they all happened so the idea of “impossible is nothing.” And when I think about from a career perspective, the same thing, you know. For me, being an African-American woman, many times I’ve looked at a position [00:09:00] and not seen myself. So the first instinct or someone that’s like me, the first instinct is, “That’s not possible,” and then it’s a reframe, “Of course it is. Of course it is. Of course, it’s possible.” Really, I really believe anything you can imagine is possible. So the, you know, and it’s a bit of a commonly used phrase, “impossible is nothing” is just a reframe on what impossible is and whenever there’s a feeling of something’s not possible, reframing that [00:09:30], “So what does that look like?” and we can make that happen.

And that plays out for me in the business world. If there’s a goal or a challenge or a competitor or a product we wanna bring to market or a situation with a retailer, the first thing is, “Oh, we’ll never do that. That’s not possible.” “Now what’s this for? What does that look like with that, what would that possibility look like and then what do we need to do to make that happen?” And then you point this out through my mother that she was, you know, of course, at being in mid-20s, you can’t go to law school with two [00:10:00] kids, a three-year-old, and I was three, right, my mother finished when I was five or six, it was my brother who was one. That’s not possible but of course, you can do that.

Ray: Wow.

Esi: And my father didn’t join her, right, so but, you know, she did it and it wasn’t a problem.

Ray: Would you pinpoint it back to your upbringing that that’s what helped you develop that mentality? I mean, being African-American [00:10:30], being in that time period where it wasn’t common I’m guessing for women with kids and African-American to go to law school and all that. Would you say that that was the primary driver that got you to think this way and think differently?

Esi: See, I do think so. So much of it, when you’re impacted by the way you’re raised or culture is in the air so you don’t notice it and it’s just, it was [00:11:00], always knew or believed that I could do whatever I wanted to do and it was just that was kind of what I expected and that was what was around me. And what I was always limited by is what I was exposed to. So I really do think that came from my mother and it came from other people around me in my life. That’s just the way they lived their life. They did what they had to do and didn’t let obstacles [00:11:30] stand in the way of what seemed like the right next thing to do, if that makes sense.

Ray: Yeah. I mean, that’s certainly a gift of, you know, being in a family with such incredibly powerful figures to have, I mean, you gotta feel pretty grateful for that so, you know, that’s incredible. You know, this whole theme of “impossible is nothing” seems to permeate through the rest of your [00:12:00] career. So, it’s the late 80s and you’re deciding where to go to college and you end up picking Dartmouth and then you go on to study Engineering? Is that right?

Esi: Yeah, yeah. When I was in…

Ray: Why?

Esi: Yeah. When I was in high school, again it’s back to context and exposure, you don’t know what you don’t know. So my dad was math teacher. I was multi-faceted, and one side of me was a complete [00:12:30] math geek. So early one, you know, watching my mother and those huge volumes of books and studying, I knew early on that I did not want to be a lawyer, but I loved to solve problems. I would beg my friends in high school to do their math homework, I mean, I loved it, I couldn’t get enough. I was on the math team, I maxed out of most of the math in my high school and so I did math in the college, I went to a public high school, [inaudible 00:13:00] Academy but I took math classes at the University of Chicago because I finished the math classes.

At the same time, I was like a pom-pom girl and a cheerleader and student union so I had these different sides of me. But I always used to love, loved math, you know, I could say I study math but I thought that wasn’t practical and all I knew was, well practical application of math is studying engineering, that’s problem-solving and for the era that I was in, for some reason I got that into my head that’s [00:13:30] a way to use math skills so I decided I wanted to engineering. And I also really liked people so I thought that I wanted to be a doctor. So I created this goal that I wanted to have an MD/PhD in Biomedical Engineering which is a little crazy because I didn’t know much about what you’d do with that but I’d done some reading and research and learned that few people had MD/PhDs in Biomedical Engineering and there was a lot going on with [00:14:00] engineering and technology and biotechnology which is still in biomechanics, etc. I thought, “Oh, that would be cool” and I can do engineering, I can do Pre-Med.

So, and because I liked people, I had a sense that I didn’t want to go into a hardcore engineering curriculum. I wanted to go to more of a liberal arts school that also provided engineering so I applied to a bunch of schools. Dartmouth happens to have a program that they provide a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences [00:14:30] so you get to study engineering for four years, also take more liberal arts classes, also allowed me to do more of the Pre-Med curriculum and you would stay a fifth year if you chose to get your Bachelor of Engineering degree which is more the accredited program. So kinda to summarize it, it was, I was interested, loved Math, wanted to be practical and thought Engineering would be good but I, you know, wanted more than [00:15:00] just Engineering so I chose this liberal arts school and, you know, I was a Chicago girl.

I knew nothing about Dartmouth and all these Ivy League schools. I applied to MIT and had the fortune of getting in there, applied to Yale and got in there, a number of schools, and it was kind of a fluke that I was exposed to these schools. I never thought I would get into them, I just applied, they sent me letters and I thought, “We’ll see,” you know, and in the end, I chose Dartmouth because it was the best fit with what I thought I’d wanted [00:15:30] to do with that Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences. And by the way, the campus was beautiful. It was like the opposite of Chicago, you know. In Hanover, New Hampshire, gorgeous mountains, a lot of greenery and it was attractive to me to be in a different environment. That’s my Dartmouth story.

Ray: What was your favorite math poison? Was it calculus, algebra or what was it that, or did you like it all?

Esi: [00:16:00] I loved calculus and trigonometry. Trig and calculus. I was not as much of a geometry fan but in calculus, I loved differential equations.

Ray: Yeah. I think we will be good friends. That was my favorite poison as well in engineering.

Esi: High school, I loved it, loved it, love it. It’s like solving a puzzle. Yes.

Ray: So what was it like going into engineering? Did you stand out or [00:16:30] what do you remember of it?

Esi: I’m sure I stood out. And I had a really good friend, Carla Austin and I, I remember we were the two black women studying engineering, and we ended up becoming friends. I also met a range of other really cool great people in study groups. Some of them were African students, some of them were, you know, [00:17:00] other students who were less diverse but it was a tough curriculum I was…good friends focused on solving these problems that we always had in the curriculum. So I remember that a lot. I remember…Dartmouth is like an isolated community that has everything right there. You have representatives [00:17:30] from people all over the world, all in this small town of Hanover that are kind of committed to something, working on problems together, if it’s problems for the community, problems for engineering and I remember what it was like to be in that environment. So that’s kind of what stands out to me. So engineering was a part of it but the bigger part of it was experiencing the community at Dartmouth with the students, you know, new people that I got exposed to that I never did in Chicago [00:18:00]. Yeah.

Ray: So you go through the years in college, you’re studying engineering, what were you thinking of doing after graduating and did you end up doing anything before starting your career at P&G?

Esi: I always worked every break I had, I had an internship and it was all towards biomedical engineering. I worked at Argonne National Lab doing biomedical engineering in my off term in Chicago in the fall [00:18:00], I worked for Motorola in their Cellular Engineering Department doing an internship so I always worked. I thought I would, you know, do an MD/PhD in Biomedical Engineering but the benefit those work experiences that it showed me that I did not want to pursue biomedical engineering because it was too independent, too much lab work and not enough people work, so what I ended up doing was corporate recruiting at Dartmouth and looked at investment banking [00:19:00], consulting companies then I happened upon this thing called Brand Management.

And so once I explored and did the corporate recruiting, I liked how brand management was profiled because what attracted me to engineering was the problem-solving, and business management and CPG management is all about solving problems. I was always interested in people, that was the attractiveness of medicine and biomedical. And in school, I also [00:19:00] enjoyed Anthropology and Psychology, and Marketing which is a core of product management is really all about that. It’s about insights, human behavior but solving the problem and translating that into products and services that can meet their needs. So I learned about that late, probably in my last year at Dartmouth and but through corporate recruiting.

And as an undergrad, there were only a few companies that recruited undergrads for [00:20:00] CPG and brand management and I interviewed with both of those, Quaker and Proctor & Gamble, and I ended up getting the job offer at Proctor & Gamble so it was no-brainer, like, “This is cool. I’m gonna try this. I’ll take a break from biomedical engineering and try this out and jump into it,” and that was now 26 years ago where, you know, I went to work for Proctor & Gamble and retired after 25 years.

Ray: What did your parents [00:20:30] think about the sudden switch from biomedical to brand manager? And there’s this term that, I mean, I’m Chinese and my parents, like I said marketing, you know, they’d be like, “What’s that?” What did they think of that sudden change?

Esi: My parents have always been like, “Whatever you want to do, Esi.” They actually call me my middle name, Johari, “whatever you wanna do.” So they were like, “Are you sure?” They didn’t, had no idea what it was [00:21:00], none. Like, “What is this?” And, you know, “Proctor & Gamble?” They knew a little bit about Kraft but they had no idea what product management was. I think they were happy that I was moving to Cincinnati because it was closer to Chicago. I think they were a little bit, “You’re not gonna do engineering,” you know, “You’re not gonna do Medicine,” because that was more concrete, but they supported it, said, “Okay, that’s what you want to do.”

[00:21:30] It was the same for my school choice. While my parents, my mother in particular really inspired me, they were never really specific about my path should like XYZ and a part of it is because they were less exposed to all the opportunities that there are in the world. Now my mother did her law thing and my dad did his math teaching thing and was a coach so, they did not discourage it at all and they thought, “Sure, do what you wanna do [00:22:00]. Come to Chicago a lot.”

Ray: Interesting. So, Okay, so you’re this calculus geek and then you’re in biomedical and then suddenly you switch to P&G and you start your career there. And so what was the first year like, I mean, being that it was probably such a traumatic shift in environment from everything you had seen prior to that?

Esi: The first year was fun because [00:22:30] I got to do a lot of problem-solving. I came into Proctor & Gamble as a Brand Assistant and I worked on the Comet brand. And in those days, a lot of the Brand Assistant work was highly analytical, right. I would run regression analysis to see correlations between promotional pricing and sales and we looked at, in those days, things not on a national level. We had 66 markets that you would run these regression and turnstile analysis against [00:23:00] to find trends on how to drive the business. So I was actually, believe it or not, in a comfort zone because it was highly analytical.

And my first boss actually had been in the category the Financial Leader, she’s the Category Finance Manager, quite, at that time when being a new hire, a very senior woman who had done a broadening assignment in marketing and decided to be a Brand Manager. So she was also very analytical so it was great [00:23:30], you know. It was a great, a different use of problem-solving. And then I got to do marketing on top of that. And I remember one of the first things I did at Comet, I don’t know if you know Comet, it’s like an abrasive cleanser, like Ajax if you will, and they’re the tag…

Ray: Yeah. Is it still around? Is the brand still around or?

Esi: It is still around. Proctor & Gamble doesn’t own it, they sold it many years ago and I got to market. I, you know, did some [00:24:00] work to change what we called the “Tear Tape” which was just a piece of tape that covered the holes where you pour out the product.

Ray: Yeah, I remember.

Esi: And, you know, we had high household penetration, everyone had a can of Comet under the skin. We hardly had much advertising budget at the time, we spent so much on promoting the brand in-store and I thought, “This tear tape could be free advertising,” and I worked with this tape manufacturer to see if we could have graphic capabilities and [00:24:30] put pictures of and statements of things on the tear tape about the product. And that was, you know, that was fun and that was…So it was a change but it was an exciting change because I felt like it was, it an even further tangible application of problem-solving and then starting to bring in creativity. And I believe probably in my engineering curriculum, my creativity wasn’t as nurtured as [00:25:00] much so when I moved into CPG and in Marketing, I was really able to combine the two and then that just blossomed, the creative side combined with the problem-solving. So, it was a good fit.

Ray: The whole tape idea, did you reach out to the manufacturers and you just, what? You called them or?

Esi: Yeah, I did.

Ray: How did you do that?

Esi: The tearable tape, I found out who the tear tape supplier was and set up a meeting with them and talked about what’s possible and they said, “Yes [00:25:30], we do have five color capability coming up,” but, yeah, it was cool, you know. But there were many other things that were on my project list but I remember that really clearly, the tear tape. We had a bunch of new products coming out in Comet, a household cleaning spray and we’re trying to find ways to build awareness of it off of the foundation of the penetration that was in the abrasive cleanser so put pictures of the Comet cleaning spray. And once we launched the spray and we did [00:26:00], sorry about that, a usage and attitude study, we found out that was a huge, that was a primary source of awareness of the spray were people using the cleanser and seeing the picture of the spray on the can which is great. People were like, “I like Comet but, you know, it’s kind of a mess, all that abrasive,” you know, that was one of the trial experience was frequent, actually one of the variants of frequent usage was all that mess. So having the power of Comet in a spray, when they saw the visual they were like, “Great, I can go buy that in the store now [00:26:30].”

Ray: Unbelievable. I didn’t realize there was so much to the story to that tape though and the whole packaging but, okay. So you’re at P&G, it seems like you’re having a great time. What point in time did you sort of did it click in you that you said, “You know what, I wanna commit to this company or this industry for the majority of my career” or did you not even think that and it just sort of happened [00:27:00] 26 years later? But was there a moment exactly?

Esi: Great. That’s such a great question. That moment never happened, you know. The furthest I could think of being at Proctor & Gamble when I started was five years, and that was, you know, back to “impossible is nothing,” I thought, like that was the greatest stretch that I could imagine was being there five years because in those early years I was having a great time each week, you know, it’s like dog years. I mean, you [00:27:30] work hard, you’re doing a lot and you can’t imagine 25 years so I never ever committed to “I wanna to be at this level at P&G and spend my career here.”

And in fact, over the years, Proctor & Gamble, many people start there but not a lot of people stay there, I mean, people go on to do a lot of other things. Some of my best friends I met at P&G stayed three years or less [00:28:00]. They all, always surprised at how long I stayed at P&G. So I never committed, it just happened. And why it happened, it wasn’t because I settled, I just continued to enjoy what I was doing and was presented with so many different opportunities that there was no reason to leave. I would look at other opportunities and at moments at times when I thought I would leave a new opportunity would present itself at P&G that, “That’s like a great opportunity.”

You know, example of the time that I moved from fabric [00:28:30] to beauty, you know, that was a great opportunity and that was the time when I was looking at what’s next, I had worked at P&G maybe eight years and fabric was the core of the business so I had always had the pleasure of running some fun and exciting and bigger businesses for P&G, you know. Sidebar, one of the things I did in soap that I was super excited and proud of was creating and launching the brand Febreze at a very early tenure in my career, I was less [00:29:00] than three years with the company, and that brand now is over a billion dollars in sales. And I ran the fabric softener business, Downy at the time was the second biggest business in the whole company, still I believe.

But, you know, at the time I was like, “Okay, I’m ready for something different,” and I had the chance to move to beauty and then that happened again. I was in beauty and then the opportunity came up to move into cosmetics and that was leaving Cincinnati when I grew tired of being in Cincinnati [00:29:30] and was thinking I wanted to move to a bigger city. And the opportunity came up to move to Baltimore and be the Marketing Director for CoverGirl. So, and then, you know, just opportunities continued to come up and, you know, 25 years later, you know.

Ray: When you say, “opportunities came up” though, were you presented the opportunity out of, you know, from someone from above or were you proactively [00:30:00] seeking and looking for, for that sort of next challenge and that next opportunity?

Esi: A mix of both. So the time I moved from fabric to beauty, I was working for a woman that I still really, really respect, a woman named Susan Arnold, she was my General Manager when I was the Marketing Director and she got promoted from General Manager to be President in Beauty. And when she left, I said, [00:30:30]”If you need anyone in Beauty, please look me up” and that was a ‘better be careful what you ask for’ because at that point in time P&G did not have a good footprint in Beauty, and my new General Manager that came in, Jorge Mesquita, who’s now running the consumer business at J&J, asked me, you know, “Esi, what do you wanna do?” I was giving him a business review and updating him on business results and key business drivers. And he said, “Let’s take a pause. What would you like to do next?” I said, “Really?,” [00:31:00] and I decided to be frank.

“I love this work but I’d like to do it in a category that has more of an emotional connection with consumers like beauty or in some regards even healthcare, you know, which is more meaningful” and three or four months later I was in Beauty. So that was because I’d expressed an interest and then I had Susan in Beauty inquiring about moving me, who I’ve worked with before. The cosmetics opportunity [00:31:30] I wasn’t asking for but at that time I was active and looking externally for other opportunities including in Beauty and Fashion. And then Susan popped up and said, “I have an opportunity for you.” Now it’s possible that she got a wind of that, okay. And so then she presented me with an opportunity at P&G that could meet that desire. So I would say a mixture.

When I came, returned, after being a Marketing Director [00:32:00] for CoverGirl, I was promoted to General Manager in our Personal Care business which was running deodorants and that was a great opportunity, moving from Marketing Director to general management. And a lot of people at that time hadn’t had that opportunity so I moved from Baltimore to Cincinnati. When I took on that job I did say, “If this same job ever became available for cosmetics [00:32:30], that’s the job I’d love to have.” And three years later that became available and so they contacted me so I had expressed an interest in that. So those are examples, there’s been a bit of both. I would make a statement of what it is I’d like to do and then others that were responsible for that helped make that happen.

Ray: Got it. Was there a moment, or maybe there were several, where you had seriously [00:33:00] thought of moving out of P&G and doing something completely different?

Esi: There were. There were probably three or four times in my 25 years at P&G that I did think of that seriously. And every time, like clockwork, something would come up at P&G that would be more interesting. Like, “Oh, I’ll try that,” like moving to Geneva, “Oh, I’ll try that,” you know. So…

Ray: Yeah. [00:33:30] What was it like moving from Cincinnati to Maryland and changing cities? What impact did that have on your personal life? And was your, I don’t know if you were married at the time but was it easy to pack up and move to another place?

Esi: The opportunities I’ve had to move around have really shaped me, particularly the move from [00:34:00] Baltimore to Geneva. I went to Geneva, I saw it as an opportunity and my husband, in particular, was really supportive saying, you know, “To continue to move up in your career, having international experience is important. Let’s do it now while the kids are young,” I moved to Geneva when my daughter was three, “and we are the most mobile so let’s go for it.” And it has been a tremendous personal experience [00:34:30] not to mention such an enriching business experience because you have an opportunity to see the culture you grow up with from a different perspective.

Culture becomes like the air you breathe so you don’t notice it, and then when you’re outside of it you can see the air and you can see a different way. And my kids have now primarily grown up in Geneva. When I moved to Geneva I was pregnant with second so my son was born in Switzerland and my daughter moving there at three, [00:35:00] who’s 11 now, was essentially raised there and giving her a view of the world outside of American-centric views has just been such a gift, and I got that opportunity through Proctor & Gamble. And then, not to mention, all the business exposure. Before moving to Geneva, I had global roles so I thought I understood international business, I thought I didn’t need to live outside of the country and I could not have been so, [00:35:30] more wrong.

Being able to do business in other countries, living outside of the U.S. did provide such a different view to stand in the shoes of others and really adapt the culture that you’re doing business in. Even though Geneva is still a little bit of a bubble, it’s not the same as, you know, which I’d love to do as well, living in Shanghai or living in Mexico City and doing business, at least it’s more, it’s [00:36:00] outside of America which is such a big island which is on its own in closer proximity to so many other countries so it makes you more I would say open and flexible in how you embrace other cultures and do business. So that had a tremendous impact on my life. I think the origin of your question was how did it affect my personal life in terms of marriage.

I met my husband when I was [00:36:30] in Baltimore essentially, when I moved from Cincinnati into Baltimore. So that move really enabled, I would say our relationship and our marriage. He’s a lawyer as well, and he was willing to move to Cincinnati and he got a great job in Cincinnati. While he was a lawyer, he was doing economic development and got a great job there for three years. When we started having kids and moving around it became [00:37:00] more challenging for my husband to work specifically when we moved to Geneva. So I would say that was an adjustment we had to make and my husband’s just been great. He is very flexible in terms of, “Okay, we move to Geneva, we have a lot to do, it’s a new country to explore, you know. I’m happy not to work and support the family not working.” Now after moving back to the U.S., we’ll see if, what he’ll [00:37:30] do next.

Ray: When you and your husband got serious, was it, were you guys clear that, “Hey, this is what could happen in my career and that I’m gonna have to not just move to Cincinnati but move to Geneva or other parts around the world” or did you just luck out and he became flexible? I’m just curious as to, like how in line were you on this, this whole potential [00:38:00] mission that you may have to go from one country to another?

Esi: Yeah, I think I lucked out. It wasn’t a conversation the way you’d have a conversation in business. You know, I think when my, before my husband and I got engaged and the opportunity came up in Cincinnati, and I wasn’t…the opportunity that came up in Cincinnati was getting promoted from, as marketing into general management, leaving cosmetics and going to work in personal care. I [00:38:30] was actually initially reluctant because I didn’t think my now husband would be willing to move from D.C. to Cincinnati and I loved working in the core of the beauty space. I loved working in make-up and then to move to personal care and I really enjoyed marketing. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do general management.

My husband was very encouraging. He said, “This is a great job and a great opportunity. You should go to Cincinnati and by the way, I’ll go with you.” So before we got married he [00:39:00] revealed himself to be different than I thought he might be which is flexible enough to move around for opportunities which is a part of him that he’s more, he’s adventurous I would say. So it wasn’t just that he was so supportive, it was also a new opportunity experience for him to try a different play, you know, even though it’s not like Cincinnati was a destination. But the same for an international opportunity, he said, “We should go early.” He encouraged that.

Now, with my [00:39:30] now husband’s support and also seeing the opportunity at that time, there has not been another African-American woman that has ever been promoted to General Manager and I thought to have the opportunity and not take it, that’s almost selfish is what I thought. I thought it would mean more for others because it’s always so important to be able to look up and see role models.

So while initially, I wasn’t that interested in the role, with my husband’s support and encouragement, with the difference [00:40:00] it would make for others and me knowing that that was important to me that, you know, always making a difference is still important to me in whatever I do, I took on that role. So it was less that we planned out, mapped out what our lives would be like but I could see in my husband, his support, because he was adventurous and pragmatic and willing to make changes, you know, take on [00:40:30] new things as they come to make the most of our lives and have a great family experience.

Ray: Yeah. You know, I think, as I listen to you, I think you’re probably are very fortunate and lucky to have that supportive partner. I think it’s a part that isn’t talked about much but is a big part of a lot of who we all are and having that support there as you’re moving from one role to another and to [00:41:00] progressing your career, it’s just an incredible thing to have behind the scenes to support you through it. So it sounds like you’ve been very fortunate.

Esi: It’s such, it makes such a difference. You know, in that regard my husband has been so incredibly supportive. You know, this sabbatical, he was completely not just supportive but encouraging. It just, when I look, my husband has been not just supportive but someone who has been there as a partner [00:41:30] to say, “What’s next? What’s the next thing we should do that makes sense for you and makes sense together as a family?” So I value not just his support but also his perspective, you know, what we should take on next, right. He’s from Chicago, he’s also, he’s quite accomplished. He went to Stanford undergrad, he went to Georgetown Law School so, yeah, our foundation is similar, right, [00:42:00] that also helps. So I agree with you. That has been a really important part of how I am, where I am today.

Ray: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. You mentioned general management, I know you probably took on a leadership role before taking on a General Manager role but do you remember any rookie mistakes that you made as a first-time leader?

Esi: Definitely [00:42:30]. I can remember… I am always about making things happen, right. You figure out what the stuff looks like, you break that down into goals and a set of clear milestones and boom, you make this happen. I can remember early on, I was either the Assistant Brand Manager or the Brand Manager of the Bounce business and the category [00:43:00], I believe the General Manager or Marketing Director at the time set out some clear objectives of what needs to be accomplished and how they were going to get done. So we engaged in that and I had my marching orders, like okay, we’ve got to do ABC.

I was leading a multi-functional team, probably about 10 people, all of which much older than me, I was quite young at the time, I was probably maybe 25 at the most, maybe even younger than that. Many people in my team were probably in their 40s, seasoned, [00:43:30] from research and development, supply chain, some of them finance, some in sales. And I led the team, basically used the marching orders. “This is what we have to do, this is what the [inaudible 00:43:40] look like,” I did not even bother to kind of engage or “Do you think this is the right thing to do? Do you think there is a different way we might accomplish this objective?” And I just saw the mission, boom! “Go, aim, fire,” and, you know, [00:44:00] coming out of that experience, I got done what I needed to get done but the feedback that came from that was, “Esi has blinders on, I’m not sure I wanna work on her team, she doesn’t value our opinion.” And that came through when we were doing performance assessment. So Proctor & Gamble uses a process and really used it at that time, many years ago called ‘Broad-based feedback” [00:44:30] to get insights from team members on how your performance.

And I was feeling good about how I performed because I met the objectives, I got done what was asked of me, so along the way, I left all these experience, values, feelings, employees feeling disempowered and like they weren’t excited to be in my team and it was an “A-ha.” I just had no idea. I was, you know, again, I was fairly young, straight out of school, used to managing projects and getting things done but not as much as, you know, [00:45:00] I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just about doing what my boss asked me to do and that was a change moment for me.

So I remember sitting down and talking to my team members after I got back the feedback and the feedback didn’t come directly to me, it came through the formal process and asking them, you know, really going in and, you know, listening to what they had to say and that certainly wasn’t my intent, I thought we were kind of all in this together, and I learned so much from that and I completely changed my leadership style. [00:45:30] And today, still, I’m so different than that. I’m still very much, “Here’s the mission,” you know, “Ready, aim, shoot” but the mission comes together through the team. I got to see an opportunity, envision the opportunity and then engage others on what that is. And that that influence get shaped based on that perspective and that’s been a long time now, been part of my…the way I work and deliver, but that was shaped by that rookie mistake of [00:46:00] thinking success was doing what was asked of you and it doesn’t matter what the rest of team thinks.

Ray: You know, I mean, I imagine that evolving that approach to leadership took some time and then you have to transition after getting that feedback. What helped you along the way? I mean what resources did you use? Did you have a mentor or did you, I mean, how did you evolve given that you were probably hardwired a certain way up until that point in time?

Esi: I think at each point [00:46:30] of time that changed. That first moment it was more, I was literally unaware. It was less that it was a soft point in terms of the scale but I literally did not know that that’s how I was operating and the impact that it had on others. So simply getting the awareness changed it because it wasn’t that I didn’t value what they had to say, I just didn’t know it was important. I can’t [00:47:00], it’s hard to articulate. So just hearing that made a difference and it made me ask. So it wasn’t like I needed coaching or help in asking because I did care. I did care. I just felt like it’s similar to, what you’re transitioning from university to the business world. University, you’re clear on what the goal is and you set out to deliver that goal, right, and you just get it done [00:47:30] and so I thought we were all under the same marching orders so I didn’t really need the help then.

But over time as, you know, your organization becomes bigger, you are working with different kinds of people, managing different challenges, you need a certain level of capacity and finesse and being able to manage your management as management changes, extracting the best out of them and leading your team, then I did get different help. I mean, I did [00:48:00] a lot of personal development work to really understand what was important to me, what my blind spots were, how to best engage, but that was later. I would say this first “A-ha” moment, I may have been an Assistant Brand Manager, maybe working two, three years in the company, but after probably eight years or increasing levels of responsibility is when I started using much more help from others.

Ray: [00:48:30] I sometimes wonder if it’s, you know, I’m an engineer as well and you tend to think of, “Oh, you just put in a bunch of these inputs and you should get the output,” and you focus so much on that but you’re managing people and people are different, right. There are emotions, people are not always rational and neither are you and so you realize that you can’t just put it on paper and expect that the equation will just work out.

Esi: Exactly. And you literally, like you said, when you train in engineering [00:49:00] you don’t think about that, and I did a lot of extracurricular activities, I worked with lots of teams. The difference for me was when you’re solving a problem there’s a goal and there’s a path which is follow that path. It’s crack this code and you get it done and I applied that to the business world, and you can do that in analysis and on smaller scale projects. And when you’re not working with big teams experienced people because that got [00:49:30] me to a certain point, but human beings are completely different than that and things aren’t linear, right. I love differential equations, that not all completely linear but things linear. The world is evolving and changing. People can see where the future is going that the past doesn’t show.

People have experiences that say path A may not be the most effective path even though we’ve all agreed to it [00:50:00] and you can really learn from people, and I know that’s a little bit of motherhood and apple pie, that’s obvious, but at the time, it wasn’t as obvious to me and the biggest challenges I’ve had and where I’ve grown the most is much more about people leadership. It’s how you lead people towards the goal by leveraging the best they have to offer because the more the leader, you know, the bigger the positions you take on [00:50:30], the people, the talented people that you bring in to solve problems and drive the business require a balance of alignment to a vision or objective that you all shape so that you’re growing in sync, but it’s freedom for them to do their thing and learning how to do that is a real art, right? Clear on priority but enabling and empowering others to deliver against [00:51:00] that without micro-management. And not everybody does that well even when you look up, you know, so it’s not every leader, even CEO does that well. And some do it exceptionally well so that has always been a part of my journey on how to do that successfully.

Ray: That’s well said. You triggered another thought when you mentioned motherhood and also talking about this whole change [00:51:30] that you had evolving as a leader. What was it like after having kids, I mean, whether it was your first or your second? How did that change the way you approached and tackled work?

Esi: That’s another really good question because it was a big change. It had an impact in a lot of ways. Before I had kids and I was married, I would [00:52:00] say I was less…I would say attached to the role. I felt like I could take really big risks and it didn’t matter because I never really cared about my job. I know that sounds, you know, it was just me, I could always get another job if things didn’t work out. When you start having a family and the family relies on you, you start to care a bit more and I had to manage that because I always wanna [00:52:30] be a leader that takes risks so I never wanted to have a concern, “Will this work out for me?”

So it required me recognizing if I had fear based on security with having kids and having a family, that’s one area. So I had to actively manage that because I say the best leaders are leaders that are generally doing, you know, taking risks on behalf of the business not based on what impact that will have on job security [00:53:00], but I had to manage that, and that’s just being really honest as I look over at a time that being able to take risks is that you have to be able to take risks in business.

The second thing is managing capacity. I still have two young kids, seven and 11, but earlier on, you know, getting back to work, moving to Geneva, pregnant, into a big new job and needing to take a four-month maternity leave [00:53:30]. I mean, that had a big impact. It forced me to establish clear goals of what needed to be accomplished as I moved to Geneva before I went on maternity leave and being just so diligent about that timeline and bringing the organization along and making sure the organization itself was sufficient to operate in my absence because I wasn’t replaced during my leave and I came back after four months [00:54:00] although I created, you know, a way to stay connected with the team while I was out.

So that was a big change, not a big change but reinforced kind of a sense of urgency and ways of managing what you might call work-life balance because my kids clearly are at the center and a huge priority and finding, continuing to learn and evolve on how I stay [00:54:30] connected and not just a mother on paper but really actively involved in the lives of my kids as business goals increases. So I strengthened my muscle I would say in work-life balance use of technology. Every day I talk to my kids no matter where I am in the world and I talk to them through FaceTime, and sometimes it’s 20 minutes of air quotes talking where it’s being, where [00:55:00], you know, they are doing something else just we’re looking at each other on FaceTime so there’s experience of us being together, right. I do parent-teacher conferences on FaceTime with my kids’ school if I’m traveling and it’s a different time zone and I can’t be there.

So really exercising this capacity muscle and using technology to manage work-life balance and things that are important. And I’d say the third, it’s getting even clearer on my values [00:55:30]. So I really run my life based on getting clear on the things that I value and I translate my values into what I call domain. So I have six areas that are important to me and I name them so that I can keep them every day present in my life. So I have one domain called “passion power” which is passion accomplishment. I have another domain which is “impact” which is making a difference. I have another domain called “ooh la la” which is fun, sensational, responsibility, fun [00:56:00], sensational experiences. I have one called “my-high” which is my children, you know, making sure they’re confident and happy and doing things that they wanna do and I did that after I had kids to make sure I was being deliberate about all the things I was put in my life.

So in each of those domains and I then list them all one as “essence” which is like harmony and balance, which would be like [00:56:30], you know, massage, meditation that sort of thing, it’s basic calm. So with each of those things, and I’m deliberate about making sure that’s full because I know those are all the things that are important to me and make me happy and that discipline came from having kids but I think it’s impacted my life outside of kids. So in short, having kids has made a huge difference in how I run my business, in how I run my life and has helped me develop even more personally creating [00:57:00] more capacity and more intentionality on achieving things that I need to and keep my life in balance.

Ray: When you talk about capacity, I imagine being in a role that you’re in, there are a lot of…call it outside work, extracurricular type of commitments. What did you have to do in terms of making choices to say, “Hey, I’m no longer gonna do this, I’m no longer gonna do this because [00:57:30] I just don’t have the time.” What were some of the things you just had to cut back on?

Esi: I’ve had to cut back on a lot. I mean, really I focus on three things. One is the job, two, were the kids and three, were very important relationships outside the kids, call it my husband and my parents, and a few friends [00:58:00]. Almost everything else I had to strip out and that, you know, because that’s quite a lot, what does that mean? You know, things like going to movies, lots of different networking events, lots of speaking engagements and opportunities, cultivating my broader friendship networks, you know…I just stripped a lot of it out. And why I had to do that is because in terms of the kids [00:58:30] I want to be a present parent, not one on paper. So with the school, with the children particularly on weekends and with all that’s required on the job, so there were, you know, connections and networking through to the job that I would prioritize, but less in terms of personal networking and I would sacrifice and on this sabbatical that’s what I’m trying to pick back up actually because I’ve lost a lot of that especially in the eight years I was in Geneva [00:59:00] and travelling all over the world, always on an airplane. Last year I traveled 350,000 Miles.

Ray: Wow.

Esi: So lots of “No, no, no, no, no, no. I’m sorry I can’t.” So now I’m trying to take some time and pick up some of those things that I missed.

Ray: If you would give yourself advice to the 25 to 30-year-old Esi, what [00:59:30] about, you know, just how you’re spending your time or what to worry about and not to worry, what would you tell her?

Esi: I would really first say, you don’t know what you don’t know. You know, life is an adventure, take on the unknown. You know, when I say my 30, 35-year-old self, while [01:00:00] we talked about my husband and how he was so supportive of moving to Geneva, you know, my first reaction was just, you know, “I can’t move to Geneva. I’m pregnant now. I have to have another baby in another language and, yeah, you know, my family is here in the US.” And back to that reframe, you know, this whole “impossible is nothing,” it was like, I was like I can do it but I was still afraid, a little bit afraid, and with my husband’s encouragement it all worked out fantastic [01:00:30]. I cannot imagine my life and my family having not had that experience and I would just encourage myself, even though I took it on because that’s just what I do, I did go with some fear.

I can remember, the summer before I moved just being a ball of [inaudible 01:00:51]. “How am I gonna have this baby? How am I gonna take on this new job?” It always works out but I would, I think encourage myself to have more peace, faith [01:01:00] and trust in the unknown, right. And I think that would save me from stress and I think I would have done a few more adventurous things. You know, now I’m still confident, I’m much more confident in that, just taking off, like this sabbatical. I’m much more confident now just taking a risk, trying something different that might be more controversial and I could have probably done even more of that earlier on if I’d give myself that advice.

Ray: Yeah [01:01:30] That’s awesome. I know we don’t have a lot of time left. I did wanna go on a few quick tactical things. I mean, in any role that you’ve taken on and you’ve taken various leadership roles all throughout your career, what do the first 90 days typically look like? How do you craft that and shape that and what do you set out to accomplish in that time period?

Esi: Yeah. The first 90 days, first [01:02:00] I really work to define what the business problem is and what success looks like because half the battle is solving, creating and defining the problem that can be solved. So I get very, very clear in what that is by assessing the landscape, figuring out what success looks like and engaging in enrolling others within that. And then the second part of it is [01:02:30] creating the plan to solve that problem. And then the third part of it is creating the team. And in the 90 days, you don’t always have the full team in place to solve the problem but you at least have the plan and who the team needs to be and that’s been very consistent across I would say all the adventures that I’ve taken on.

Ray: That’s very helpful. On just yourself individually and [01:03:00] I’m gonna refer to your pre-sabbatical days, but what does your morning or evening routine typically look like?

Esi: Quite varied depending on where in the world I am. So if I’m with the kids, my morning routine is wake up early, and that would be like in Geneva, probably 5:00, 5:30 and go for a run, then [01:03:30] get the kids ready. And once I get the kids ready, go through the routine of getting, you know, of making breakfast for them, getting their lunchboxes and all that ready for school, and then getting the kids up and out of the house, getting, making sure they’re up and having their breakfast by 6:00, 6:30 and then out the house to the bus stop by 7:30. And then between 7:30 and 8:00 or 8:15, I clear out everything from the night before, you know, emails, [01:04:00] all that before I head into the office.

And then I head into the office for a full day of meetings or go to the airport. I try to make sure my flights are after that part of the routine. Doesn’t always work but that’s the time with the kids in Geneva. And in that meeting while getting prepared for the day, it’s also looking at social media feeds, you know, clearing things out for the day before I go into meeting mode because that’s a big part of my life are meetings.

When I’m on the road, it’s quite different because when [01:04:30] I’m on the road, I’m almost always connecting with people and teams. So I start with a breakfast with someone in the market, you know. So if I’m in Japan, I start try to connect with the team and the people on what’s going on. I still try to exercise and have a run and clear out my emails but my day starts with some connection with someone on the team. And then I jump into either market visits, going in stores, talking [01:05:00] to consumers or business meetings with the team inside. And then long day of that and usually a dinner along with it and then start the day all over. So there’s two different routines depending on if I’m traveling or if I’m trying to make the most of the time I’m home with the children.

Ray: Do you ever unplug, completely?

Esi: I would say before the sabbatical not as much as I’d like. My unplugging is the [01:05:30] time when I’m exercising, and that’s probably the only time I’d unplug and that’s when I’m running. That’s my unplug time, and even sometimes when I’m running I’d multitask too much, watching the “Head Talk” on the treadmill or, you know, trying to keep up but that’s my veg out. The other time I would say I unplug is on airplanes and I travel so much, so I try to…on my eight [01:06:00] and a half hour flight which my most common ones were from Geneva to the U.S. or the longer ones, and those daytime ones where I’m not sleeping, I try to mix that time up a third, a third, a third.

Work for a third of the time, sleep for a third of the time and then kind of unplug for the other third, and that unplug could be reading or watching a movie. It doesn’t always work out like that, sometimes work will take over or sometimes I’m so [01:06:30] exhausted sleep will take over so, but those are probably the two times that I fully unplug. And on this sabbatical, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish, a lot of. It’s just developing more of the muscle of unplugging, not just physically unplugging so when I get back into it, I can do better at more routinely unplugging because I really believe in that and that’s an area I need to do better, you know, because I’m pretty intense in all things.

Ray: Do you [01:07:00] practice meditation or anything like that?

Esi: I just started so…many years I try because I’m such a doing machine, I always had it that I just can’t meditate. I value it, I just really couldn’t do it but from, since the sabbatical, I started. So I will say yes, and that’s another thing that I want to maintain post the sabbatical is the meditation practice, just the time of mindfulness, calm and [01:07:30] peace.

Ray: I was just doing it this morning but I use this app called Headspace where you just download it on your phone and 10 minutes a day. So if you’re exploring different options that could be one helpful tool.

Esi: Thank you. I’ll check that out. I’ve been doing about 12 minutes a day, 12 minutes meditation.

Ray: Oh. That’s pretty good. I’ve asked you a bunch of different questions but, you know, with, I know we’re going a little over time [01:08:00] but is there something, a story, an experience or a challenge that I haven’t asked that you think would be worth sharing or have I done a pretty good job in covering everything?

Esi: I think you’ve covered pretty much everything. The only thing that you didn’t cover but which I think is important there was, you know, I retired from P&G after 25 years and then I took on this great effort to lead us through the merger of P&G especially beauty businesses in Coty [01:08:30] and, you know, after working for one company for 25 years, you could say, “What’s it like to leave and go do something in another company?”

And for me, that was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. P&G promotes from within so you end up working with people who almost become family because you’ve worked with them for so long and there’s such a common operating framework. It was so fulfilling and excitement to move outside of that [01:09:00] and work with a hugely diverse team, some people from P&G, some people from Coty and a lot of people from outside and having a chance to build an amazing team and work in an environment that was much more fast paced, much more dynamic with so many different points of view. And I just add that because I really appreciated and looked forward to the diversity of experiences coming together and making sure you move [01:09:30] out of your comfort zone and I found that that experience was even more of a fit for me.

You know, I left and took a sabbatical as a chance to get closer to family because I was doing split family. My family was in Geneva and I was working here in New York and just, even though the time was fine, I had six months, I was moving too far away from the values and the things that I talked about and just not able to spend and focus the time on the kids, an important part of their [01:10:00] development that I hoped that taking the break to help manage the time and then, you know, have a timeout. But I say all that to say the change of working for a company after 25 years and moving to a new experience was incredible and I would just encourage many others to take on that change.

Ray: After going through the experience, would you have done something like that sooner to have gotten a different perspective?

Esi: [01:10:30] Yes, I would absolutely have done something sooner. You know, I got into, being in Geneva with the kids in Geneva and just all the opportunities that kept presenting itself and knowing the merger was on the horizon. But as I look back, I am someone that doesn’t really have regrets, I have no regrets. Everything has been played out the way it should and really been perfect for me but it’s like if I really would look back and say I wish, maybe, and again having a chance to retire from P&G was meaningful [01:11:00]. But, you know, it would have been exciting to have left maybe five years ago and move into…shake it up a bit more. So, I would say, yeah.

Ray: I mean, you say the word “retire” but you’re still young with a lot of life to live, what do you still wanna do? What do you think that that next chapter could look like?

Esi: To be determined which the sabbatical will help sort out. There are range of options, you know, [01:11:30] three different categories of options that I’m looking at to decide what’s next. To be determined.

Ray: Awesome. Well Esi, I really, really enjoyed this and appreciate you doing this interview. I mean, everything I read up about you and what you stand for and the inspiration that you are to so many different people I think is an incredible story and I’m glad that we’re able to share that. Like I said, at the end of [01:12:00] this, yeah, you’ve certainly accomplished a lot but I think there’s a lot more that I’m certainly excited to see and follow as you look at the next chapter. So, you know, thank you for this and I know that our listeners are gonna really, really enjoy this interview.

Esi: Thank you, Ray, and all the best to you and your listeners.

Daniel: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed what you heard, felt like you learned something, please just take a minute [01:12:30] to go into iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcast and write us a review. It helps us reach more people like yourself and helps us share the knowledge with others. So please check out iTunes, write a review, tell us what you think and look forward to talking to you at our next episode.