Mary Pauline has worked in tech for more than 15 years. She’s worked in IT, managed developer teams, and now she serves as a Division Systems Officer, overseeing tech strategy for the company’s Consumer Products Division. And she’s spent nearly half of her career in a place you might not associate with tech: L’Oréal.
We spoke to Mary Pauline to get an inside look at what it’s like to work in tech for an innovative beauty company, the kinds of opportunities that exist for tech talent in the consumer products world, and how L’Oréal defies the stereotypes of tech culture for women.
Tell us about your current role. What does a Division Systems Officer do?
I began my L’Oréal career focused on supporting the sales function across L’Oréal USA and today I oversee our largest division’s technology strategy and portfolio spanning across marketing, sales, operations, and retail. Technology is contributing to the L’Oréal business in vast and exciting ways.
And you’ve been with L’Oréal for seven years. Where did you start out at the company?
I was handling project management for a US IT team that eventually became an Americas IT team. I led the creation and building of a mobile sales aid application in use by our field sales teams across the various L’Oréal divisions. I created internal portals for our various teams including our previous internal L’Oréal USA communications hub. And then I got this opportunity to take on a more strategic role, closer to the business, which is really exciting for me, but in my early years I needed to be more in the trenches to be able to do the role I’m in now.
Speaking of the early years, what kinds of opportunities do you see for entry-level folks in IT and technology at L’Oréal?
Technology project management is huge. Certainly, individuals that are studying tech but have that knack or skill to be able to translate it to the business community are essential. So, what we need and what we value a lot are individuals that can do that type of role, and become the middle-person between technology and the business.
We also have a variety of neat applications in use at L’Oréal. Salesforce is one of them. We’re also a big Microsoft technology shop. Digital has so many opportunities with the way e-commerce is growing and changing on such a frequent basis that any of those areas are great points of entry for technology folks.
Tell us about the company culture at L’Oréal. How does it defy the stereotypes about the exclusivity of tech culture, especially for women?
The company culture is extremely inclusive and welcoming to all, especially in the tech space. As a good example, I was on maternity leave for close to five months last year, and upon returning, I was given a promotion to this position that I’m in right now, because they knew I had the qualifications and that I would do a great job. And even though I wasn’t here and was caring for a newborn, I was still considered and thought of for opportunities, which in a lot of places wouldn’t be the case.
On the other hand, how does L’Oréal’s culture compare to the fast-paced nature of other tech companies?
It’s an extremely entrepreneurial company, so you have the ability to work on so many different things at any given point in time. Leadership is very eager for individuals to jump right in and contribute. The business relationships that we have built are respected, and IT does have a seat at the table. I mean, the fact that I sit on the management committee for the Consumer Products Division in an IT role is a huge testament to how technology is valued at the company.
We’ve made a commitment to make L’Oréal the number one beauty tech company in the world, and we don’t take something like that lightly. There’s a lot of investment behind technology, and you can feel it in the pulse of the company. It’s really exciting and keeps you on your toes.
This is a company with a huge history behind it. But what everyone’s seen from us in terms of consumer products, all of that innovation, we’re now doing the same thing from a technology perspective. It’s a complete transformation of how L’Oréal works. So right now is a really exciting time to hop on board.
When tech and business talent are considering their options, why should they consider L’Oréal?
It’s a very team-oriented culture. It doesn’t matter what level of the organization you’re in, everyone pitches in and participates to deliver and to get things done. Everyone’s always ready to hustle, you know? And there are so many different areas you can play a role in, because we’re a consumer products company, and that means there are so many ways we do business.
The work is certainly demanding and challenging, but it’s so exciting. The individual really sets their own path and makes sure that they’re doing what they need to do to be successful. That makes me want to bring my best self to work every day and really challenge myself. At the same time, there really is that mindset and that focus from leadership on identifying talent and finding the best opportunities for the individual.
Any advice for women in particular hoping to enter the tech space?
Keep up with your field, keep asking questions, and build the confidence to hold people accountable and work across a variety of teams.
The other thing I’ll say is, when you execute, when you deliver, that’s what earns respect. So you can have all the best relationships in the world, but if you’re not delivering quality work or follow-through, it’s not going to be respected if you’re not getting things done in a quality way, and delivering time and time again. That’s where the respect is going to come from.
What’s your elevator pitch for a tech career at L’Oréal?
If you love the beauty industry and have a passion for products that embody “beauty for all,” L’Oréal is a terrific place to have your technology career. We are fast-paced, entrepreneurial, and admired as the leader in the beauty tech space. We have the resources to be able to invest and advance in technology across all aspects of our business and we push ourselves every day to do more and do better.
Ready to put your tech talent to work at L’Oréal? Check out open opportunities from L’Oréal on WayUp right now!