With the world’s focus on hygiene, Dove’s global vice president of cleansing Marcela Melero had her work cut out for her by the pandemic.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” she said, “but when COVID[-19] happened, we had a great trajectory.”
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Melero leads Dove’s cleansing business — “the biggest piece of the personal care business,” she said — across all markets. “I’ve always been very fortunate as it’s the jewel of the crown,” she continued. “It’s been growing fantastically, like I don’t know how we got here. But you have a brand that people can connect with emotionally, and also a product that’s an amazing, superior product.”
Melero started her time at Unilever in Argentina, where she was born, working in research and development. “Little did I know I was going to end up in the U.S. leading Dove, which is, for me, one of the most iconic and beautiful brands out there. It was quite unexpected, and very surprising to work in research and development, and be offered the chance to start in marketing,” she said.
The brand was also an early pioneer of purpose, such as the CROWN Act and its ongoing focus on sustainability. Melero’s leadership style is all about parlaying that sense of purpose into the everyday.
“I look at my daughters, and I want a better beauty for them. I want a beauty that’s meaningful, and when I think of meaningful, there’s something about the purpose aspect. It cannot just be superficial beauty, it needs to be inclusive, and I want people to see things they can relate to and not that’s going to generate stress,” she said. “We’ve all been forced to fit something.”
That sensibility is what led her to think about mentorship in its many forms. “I do a lot of mentoring, informal and formal. There are holding-hands moments that are tough, or making a big example when someone gets promoted and showing it to others as an example of what can be done,” she said. “Being Hispanic, I try to raise the voices of other women that come from minority groups, as everyone should have a seat at the table.”
She’s used her own challenges as well to define how she manages her team, with English being her second language. “With English not being your first language, when English is the business language, I cannot say how many times people talk to me about my accent,” she said. “We work in a global organization, and we work a lot with Asia, and they might have more of what’s happening on trends, but feel held back from sharing in a meeting if their English is not perfect. One of the biggest things that holds people back is not feeling that they’re good enough to share what they’re thinking or form an opinion.”
Melero sees beauty’s future as being equally as inclusive. “I’m really hoping for that personalization,” she said. “There’s much more to come in 2023. We’re doing our part, trying to make this more personalized and serving the underserved.”
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