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December 27, 2011

Exclusive Interviews

Leadership Profile: Alessandro Carlucci, the Personification of Natura

by Barbara Seale

Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.

Alessandro Carlucci

In a perfect world, the personal values of executives are seamlessly aligned with those of the companies they lead. Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Brazil-based Natura, seems to have found that perfect match.

Soon after he was named CEO, one of the company’s top executives described Carlucci as “a great guy, and very Natura.”

It isn’t surprising that Carlucci would reflect Natura’s corporate values so closely. He joined the company in 1989 right out of business school as a member of the company’s sales and marketing organization. Over the years, he coordinated sales in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Then in June 2002 he became Commercial Vice President.

When he was named CEO in 2005, he was the company’s first top executive from outside its three controlling stockholders. At that time, the company’s Founder, Luiz Seabra, along with Guilherme Peirao Leal and Pedro Luiz Passos, moved out of day-to-day operations but remained co-chairmen of the board of directors. After running the company for 30 years, and just a year after the company went public, they signaled their trust in Carlucci by passing the torch to him—a man who was virtually synonymous with Natura.

Clearly, their trust was well placed. Since he became CEO, Natura sales in Brazil—the company’s largest market—have surpassed even Avon. In December, Carlucci told the Financial Times that part of his success in this female-oriented business has come from getting in touch with his feminine side. He says it has made him a better manager.

“Having developed a feminine soul today is not just a pleasure, it’s an opportunity,” he told the publication. “The business world is normally a more rational world, more objective, more straight to the point, and so more masculine. It’s not that men are all like that, but if you have to separate the male soul from the female one, well … . It’s just that we have many women here. The emotional, intuitive, caring side is more present, and so I learned to work in a company where things like that are valued.”

Asking the Right Questions

Carlucci clearly shares the same commitment to the environment and social initiatives as the company he leads. Answers to questions about them, or any other question about Natura’s actions, often begin with “Here at Natura, we … .” So when he talks of company programs, his comments aren’t only those of a company spokesman. He actually seems to personify the company. For example, the company’s dedication to both sustainability and society is a basic element of the way it manages its business. Even as it delivers shareholder value, it safeguards the Amazon rain forest—the source of many of the ingredients in Natura’s products—and works hard to improve the lifestyles of the populations both within and outside the forest.

“Here at Natura we believe that well-being should be felt and experienced by everybody.”
-Alessandro Carlucci

“Most important is not to guarantee that we are balanced, but that we are asking ourselves, What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of everything we do?” he says. “The question is more important than the answer. No one knows the right balance, but we include those things in all initiatives.”

Social impact extends to Carlucci’s view of the company’s products, as well. He explains that each of the company’s 600 products is important for building brand value. He takes a personal interest in the products, too. He has tried them all, so he is confident in their quality and that they enhance the lives of customers, delivering what Natura calls well-being.

He says, “Here at Natura we believe that well-being should be felt and experienced by everybody.”

Expanding the company’s impact on environmental sustainability and social improvements is part of the reason the company plans to expand further in Latin America.

“Here at Natura, we believe that the value and longevity of a company is measured by its ability to promote the sustainable development of society,” he says. “Moved by this belief, we continually invest in the identification and understanding of the environmental challenges of our time in order to turn them into business opportunities that generate and distribute benefits to all.”

Global Impact

Carlucci has the opportunity to promote those ideals throughout the world, not only through Natura’s growth, but in his new role as Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA). He assumed that post in October and will hold it for three years. Carlucci has been an entrepreneur since adolescence, and he says he looks forward to promoting the entrepreneurial opportunities of the direct selling industry, reinforcing it as an important economic opportunity, and shining a light on its ability to contribute to social transformation.

In his first address to WFDSA members, he rallied them around his lifelong mission, saying, “We must, and we can, with the contagious enthusiasm that the world needs, exercise our vocation as agents of economic, social and environmental change by creating social inclusion opportunities and new, sustainable forms of business. Let’s show to the world our transformation and entrepreneurship capacity. Thus, through the strengthening of our image, we will increase our business opportunities and the positive impact on the lives of millions of people.”

“What motivates me the most is to see that I’m part of a group of people that wants to do business and, at the same time, contribute to the well-being of people, society and the planet.”
-Alessandro Carlucci

His WFDSA chairmanship is a natural extension of his role at Natura, the world’s third-largest direct selling company. It lets him continue to pursue his passions on a global scale. After all, what he values most at Natura is the same thing he will pursue at WFDSA.

“What motivates me the most is to see that I’m part of a group of people that wants to do business and, at the same time, contribute to the well-being of people, society and the planet.”