Michelle Freyre, the president of Johnson & Johnson's beauty line in the United States, manages renowned brands such as Aveeno and Neutrogena and this year she is one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in People en Español. Here, the Puerto Rican executive exclusively shares some of her advice on beauty and leadership.
What have been keys to your professional success? I feel that the most important thing for my professional growth has been taking risks. I left Puerto Rico for the United States to get a better education. Years later, I took the risk of changing my profession to become Neutrogena's general manager. And a few months ago we took the risk of changing cities to start a new life in New Jersey with the goal of making my dream come true: to be the US beauty president of Johnson & Johnson.
What would you advise other Latinas who want to grow in the business world? At the beginning of my career I had a mentor who asked me what I aspired to and I told him, back then, that my dream was to be the leader of Neutrogena someday. She told me that she believed in me and that this dream was not out of my reach, but that I needed to expand my professional experience to reach my goal. So she encouraged me to transfer from marketing to sales, which helped me gain the knowledge to be a Johnson & Johnson leader. The advice that I would give to those Latinas like me is that they never stop persevering and dreaming, because there is no dream impossible to achieve. The challenges and risks accompanied with passion, education and determination are the key elements to achieve success.
What do you enjoy most about your job at Johnson & Johnson? I enjoy and support cultural diversity within the organization. At Johnson & Johnson we achieve this goal through our focus on recruiting, training and developing the skills of a diverse workforce that reflects the reality of our market. We also foster an open culture that accepts individuality. It is important that [the members of] our team feel free to be authentic in their work and to have confidence in themselves to achieve success.
How does this company represent the Hispanic consumer? At Johnson & Johnson we are clear that to reach the Hispanic consumer, you have to not only understand him, but speak to him in his language and allow him to feel identified with his culture. Our organization evolves with the consumer, understands their needs and provides them with the education and resources necessary for the well-being of their family. Our intention is to create an authentic connection with a priority market.
How do you find the balance between career and personal life? Now more than ever that I am fortunate to be a mom, I consider balance to be a reflection of well-being and happiness. As long as you give your best in every situation, you allow yourself to enjoy the best of every aspect of yourself. The professional and the mother are both part of you, require different disciplines, but these abilities often intertwine and impart wisdom and understanding to each other. Having the teachings and perspectives of my past and present experiences helps me find the ideal balance point.