P&G (Procter & Gamble) is one of the consumer giants that attracts many students every year. Benjamin Binot, a graduate of Audencia, is now SVP Oral Care Europe. He pilots iconic brands like Oral B for the whole continent. For Business Cool, he looks back on his career and reveals his daily life at this international behemoth.
Benjamin Binot’s journey from Audencia to P&G
What brought you to Audencia?
I have a very classic background. I wanted to open myself up to many opportunities and access a form of academic excellence. So I went to business school and I really enjoyed joining Audencia. I am originally from the Great West and was happy to stay in this area.
Audencia allowed me to do many things during my schooling. I am a sailing fan and I was president of the sailing club. In addition to the academic excellence, the association activities were exciting and the openness of the school to foreign countries marked me. I took the opportunity to go to the United States. My exchange in an American university was very rich. It was a very intense period of self-construction that allowed me to mature my professional project.
You seem attached to your school.
I was the proud sponsor of an Audencia class three years ago. It is a school that is very close to my heart. These years at Audencia are unique. You have to succeed in those years. It is also necessary to play a role within the school, to undertake and discover (with internships and options) the outside world. The operational part of a school, through associations and internships, is essential! This is something we look at a lot when recruiting.
How did you come to Procter & Gamble?
Audencia allowed me to do many internships and I was able to refine my professional project. At the time, I was destined for jobs around finance, so I specialized in this sector. I tried several jobs, in consulting or banking, and I wanted to work in industry. It’s a universe that speaks to me, because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Finance has an important place within large groups and in particular at Procter & Gamble.
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All about Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble, what is it?
P&G is a group that positions itself in the daily lives of all French people and even consumers around the world. We are present in more than 180 countries. We touch our consumers at all stages of life and throughout the day. Our corporate brand is relatively unknown, but our brands are. We have Oral B on dental, Ariel on laundry, Gilette or Braun on shaving, but also other brands like Always, Tampax, Swiffer, Mr. Propre, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Venus, Vicks or Bion3.
Why did you enter the world of consumer goods?
I really like to challenge myself and learn on a daily basis. FMCG is an extremely intense competitive environment and you rarely get bored. The consumer only chooses you if you provide the best. There is little room for approximation. Every day is a new challenge.
I also had several lives in the group, in very different environments. In an industrial group like P&G, you can be in a purely factory environment, in sales, R&D or even marketing and design. I lived all these environments in my professional life. It’s a career that is ultimately quite entrepreneurial. I have learned and undertaken a lot within the group.
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Benjamin Binot’s career and daily life at P&G
As you said, you have evolved a lot within Procter & Gamble. Is this the advantage of large groups?
The advantage of a multinational is that there are many opportunities and you have to seize them! You have to know how to take risks in your career, by questioning yourself. I did 10 years of finance, went to work in the Boston office, and then felt it was time for me to learn something new. I asked the group to give me a career in sales and I became sales manager for one of our big distributors in Europe: Carrefour. I learned a lot and I think I brought a lot with what I had seen in finance.
I then wanted to evolve in marketing, I took charge of big brands for important countries. I then felt ready to manage the countries and I was lucky that the group trusted me. I was in charge of one of our largest markets worldwide: France & Benelux, two areas that are part of the world’s top 10 in terms of market size. I asked to develop myself in one of our big business units, dental, and I had the responsibility for Europe 2 years ago.
You have to be quite determined and clear about your personal development, you have to question yourself regularly. The risk is to enter a form of comfort zone and learn a little less. We live in a world where many things change very quickly. In our industry, digitalization is major, marketing is no longer the same as before. We are also impacted by everything related to sustainable development. This is why we have deployed a policy of neutral impact on the planet, at the production level.
What does your daily life look like?
When you run a business unit, you have several types of activities. We act on the strategy, on the execution plans for the major countries in Europe. I also play a role of talent recruiter. On a daily basis, I discuss strategic decisions, the launch of new products, with the R&D department, but also marketing or the production centers. I am in daily contact with our leaders in all countries to better understand our consumers in each area of Europe.
There is also a whole organizational component to my job. I have to be able to place the right people in the right positions, at the right time in their professional life. I am therefore committed to developing and motivating the teams. It’s a super HRD job and it’s a role close to my heart.
Any advice for students who wish to enter the world of consumer goods or a large group?
We enter a business school to learn and clarify our choices. We join a large group because we come from a good school. You have the impression of being drowned in the mass, but there are many opportunities, autonomy and responsibilities, so many reasons to join a large group. This also helps to develop to become attractive on the job market.
A large group trains a lot. At Procter & Gamble, we have it all. Some have left the group to work in NGOs, some have taken over a family business. The years with us are rich and have helped them to practice their profession today.
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