As a globetrotter (and we kid you not), Tatiana Vivienne Jouanneau knows a thing or two about how culture informs the customer experience. Though she’s lived in many locales, read on to learn the singular truth she lives by that has helped paved her way to an accomplished career in marketing.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
I am Chief Marketing Officer for one of the world’s most renowned and iconic brands – Duracell. I led the Duracell brand carve-out of P&G into Berkshire Hathaway in 2016. With this move now completed, the brand is in a cruising mode and I am working on all brand disciplines across the globe to reach new heights.
How did you get to where you are today?
One step at a time. Multiple countries, categories, geographies, locations and brands. The most important thing for me has always been focus. There is a Japanese saying: “When you wash a cup, all you should think about is washing a cup.” It sounds simple but requires a lot of self-discipline in the age of constant distractions and accepted praise for multitasking. Focus, when mastered, yields great productivity and achievements.
What key learning moment from your career stands out to you the most?
"As part of my work, I spent one week living in an Egyptian family’s home..."
I’ve lived in more than 20 countries and worked across all continents. Even as a child I learned that if you don’t understand a different culture, you should start by genuinely accepting and respecting it. Years ago, I was responsible for baby-care (diapers) in the Middle East, where mothers were using cloth for baby diapering. On the surface, it seemed to be driven by affordability, but deep down it was rooted in a belief passed on for generations that “this is how you should take care of the baby.” The Western belief of convenience was rejected as not meeting the standard of being a “good mother.” As part of my work, I spent one week living in an Egyptian family’s home, waking up every two hours at night to change the baby’s cloth diapers together with the mother.
This truly immersive experience taught me that you can’t introduce a new (even a superior) product and a new habit by challenging an established belief. You can only change the habit by understanding its terms, by being genuinely helpful and offering something which mattered to the family. Not having to change cloth diapers every two hours resulted in a better quality of sleep for the baby and hence, better baby development.
What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for women today?
"I didn’t try to fit the mold of a CMO, I have been trying to change the mold to include more women."
Executive offices and C-suites are still very much a male-dominated environment. My operating principle has always been not to “act like a man” to survive in the male-dominated industry (and boardroom). I am very comfortable in my femininity and would never power-play or play “boys club” in a meeting. Instead, I would try to find a more insightful perspective. I didn’t try to fit the mold of a CMO, I have been trying to change the mold to include more women.
What advice do you have for them?
Brand-building and advertising are both art and science, and as such, they’re subjective, at times. I often have my unsure moments. My confidence booster is my love of fashion. Whenever I’m facing a difficult meeting or a tough decision, I start with the content of the discussion and that dictates the style of clothes I will be wearing. This combination gives me an inner sense of preparedness. Everyone should find that thing for themselves – the thing that makes them who they are and gives them the confidence to be their bold self.
How have you found the right balance between your personal life and career?
I guess it starts with the acceptance that it’s not about achieving balance at all times but balancing over time. This means accepting some non-picture-perfect moments. I will never forget the time when I came home after three weeks traveling in Africa, smelling of locally-burned wood, with sun-tanned skin and wearing the bright clothes bought on the side of a rural road, and our 9-month-old son Maxance started crying because he didn’t recognize me. The moment I understood that he was crying because he thought I was a stranger, I started crying with him. It was the moment of the biggest imbalance ever.
"...treat your personal life with the same strategic planning you put into your career."
I think the best way to have the right balance is to treat your personal life with the same strategic planning you put into your career. I am often surprised to see how artfully people plan career moves while assuming that personal life will just happen. When my husband and I got married, we both agreed that we wanted to realize our professional ambitions and to share the principle of driving revenue/family incomes while accepting costs associated with what it takes to have a balanced life. It was a costly choice at the time but we invested in the family infrastructure. When we are home, we are really home and together.
What one thing would you have done differently early in your career?
One thing I wish I had done differently is to have more continuity on a brand at a time. I started my career at a time of rapid growth and fast expansions for brands and as a result, I was jumping brands every 18 months. While it certainly helped with multi-category experience, I often missed the chance to live through the full brand cycle. A relationship with a brand is like a relationship with a person – there is a beginning with its discovery, there is time at peak when all brand drivers just work, and then there is a closure when you wrap up and move the brand to the next step. Leaving the relationship when the cycle is not complete leaves some of the learnings unfinished.
You are deeply passionate about the relationship your brand has with its agencies. How do you see yourself valuing that partnership differently from other CMOs?
I don’t view my relationship with the agencies as just a partnership. I view agencies and internal brand teams as one talent pull, one common resource united by one mission of serving the brand. The differences in reporting lines and profit centers are just an internal set-up. I hold agencies accountable for their area of expertise the same way as my internal organization, and I feel responsible for the agency achievements and their personal well-being the same way I feel about my brand team.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, money or talent would be no object, what would you be doing?
I would be a world-famous chef. Brand building is just like cooking – it requires learning by doing and technical mastery, as well as imagination, creativity, love, and courage to start all over if you burn something badly. A recipe has no soul – it’s the chef who brings the soul to the recipe.