Aude Gandon joined Nestlé in a key role as Global Chief Marketing Officer eight months ago. With twenty years of experience working for major international brands, she brings fresh perspectives and dynamic ideas.
Aude has navigated a highly successful career as a working mom. "I joined advertising in the 90s. There were a lot of women in the junior ranks, but as I evolved, there were less and less of them," she recalls. "They simply left their jobs as soon as they had children because they had no other choice. My first maternity leave was very short for the same reason".
There's been a great deal of progress. What Nestlé has done with parental leave is huge!
This International Women's Day, we took the opportunity to mine Aude's experiences. Here, she provides invaluable insight into what she has learned about exacting real and lasting change for equality and what work still needs to be done.
"Credibility wasn't given to me naturally. It was hard work to be heard and to earn the trust to do more. I worked in France, the UK and US - and everywhere it was the same story. I had to prove myself time and time again. So, trust yourself. It's important. Don't let your confidence be determined by others."
"Don't be afraid to ask for help. Always. You can't imagine just how many people are willing to help".
"We need mentorship, but also allyship. What I really want to do is challenge the place of women, but bring the men with us. If we really want to have impact and change things then we need men by our sides, as well."
"Remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. You have a whole career. It's over 40 years. There will be ups and downs. There are times in your life when priorities will change. It's important to be realistic about what you can achieve. Everything has its time. I believe you can have it all, but maybe not all together at the same time. Of course, sometimes I felt like I was a failure at work because I had to invest in the family, and vice versa. But I knew they were the choices I made. It's never perfect but it works."
"You teach your children to be self-reliant. I feel like it's a gift as a working mother. When the pandemic hit it was a difficult time. But my children have been very resilient. They've seen me happy in my career and in my job: my daughter doesn't know yet what she wants to do, but she knows that she wants to be independent."
A central pillar of the Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan is to increase the proportion of women in the top 200+ senior executive positions from around 20% in 2019 to 30% by 2022. Aude is one of many great examples of the plan in action.
However, as pleased as Aude is to have seen progress for women throughout the course of her career, she is at pains to point out that we still have a long way to go. "20% of women have left the workforce in the U.S. because of the pandemic. Lots of people, both men and women, have lost their jobs. But for women, it's often very hard to find a new one. If we don't deal with this quickly and decisively it will be like going back 20 years," she explains. "The pandemic has shown that the mindset hasn't changed as much as I thought. There are still big issues that we need to tackle. At Nestlé it is our responsibility to be part of that conversation."