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“You can have it all” – Erynn Keefe about record sales and a healthy balance in life

Erynn Keefe has been with Beiersdorf for eleven years. In her current position, Regional Head Derma US, she is responsible for Eucerin and Aquaphor and has managed to achieve a record year for both brands across all highly competitive brand categories (Body, Baby, Lip). In this interview, she talks about the respective success factors, the relevance of team spirit and how she creates a healthy work-life balance despite the heavy demands that come with a leadership position.

Erynn, you achieved with our Derma brands a record year in the US. What is the secret of this great success?

We spent years working on the ideal strategy for our Derma brands Eucerin and Aquaphor. For me, the key was to create a truly holistic approach: everyone working together towards the same goal. This means that every function and every category is equally part of the strategy and is managed and resourced accordingly. No category or working field is deprioritized and that’s the secret: there is no leaky bucket. This approach pays off. For the first time ever, we are on track to overachieve both Net Sales and Market Share across all categories for both of our brands, as well as growing #1 Dermatologist recommendations in our focus segments!

Erynn Keefe, Regional Head Derma US

Shouldn’t we always be working towards the same goal?

Of course, we should! However, if you don’t involve everyone equally, that plan will never really work out. Teamwork and the right mindset are therefore essential. We need to consider all perspectives of our different functions – be it Medical Management, Media, Research & Development, Sales, Category Management, Consumer Research, Shopper Marketing and so on. Everyone needs to contribute, have skin in the game, share their expertise, and importantly respect and support each other. This is true not only across our local US team for Derma, but also internationally. We have the privilege of being part of a global company. It is important that we actively take advantage of this by defining ourselves as ONE global TEAM. In the US we can benefit from the input we receive from the global team and unleash its potential by adapting and executing launches and campaigns locally. However, when we promote an open dialogue there is more: synergies, knowledge and resources that we can share. For me, teamwork will always be the key to success and something I strongly benefit from in my professional but also in my personal life.

Do you have any advice on how to foster the spirit of being one team across different functions and national boundaries?

For me, it all comes down to transparency in all directions. It’s about an ongoing dialogue and giving room to celebrate successes together – because everything we achieve, we achieved it together. On the other hand, transparency leaves no room for sugar-coating. We need to be honest with each other in case of having different opinions, potential local vs global challenges or if something does not work out as planned. This way we can find solutions and fail forward together as a team. 

What else is relevant to you at work besides team spirit and transparency?

I have always been a very ambitious person with lots of energy. For me, it’s about giving it my all and being passionate about what I do every single day. Meanwhile I now have a team of 60 people across brand management, medical marketing and detailing which fills me with pride and motivates me every day. My team is extremely dedicated and exhibit a special spark which is why we are winning and have an engaged culture. This is also linked to our strong brand purpose: We believe in the life-changing power of dermatological skincare. This means that through our daily work, we help people all over the US and the world change their lives for the better because they benefit from having healthier skin. That’s something incredibly powerful. You can see that we are really living and breathing this purpose and how this leads to a great amount of dedication and motivation. I love that my team is just as passionate and purpose-driven at work as I am.

Being responsible for about 60 people probably keeps you busy 24/7. Does that leave any time for yourself?

Actually, it does. But not only for myself, but also for my family including my husband and two children ages 12 and 9 years old. I never felt it was an option to choose between having a family and pursuing a career and I am happy that Beiersdorf didn’t give me the impression that I had to. At the end of the day it only matters that I deliver on my job both at work and at home. And this is exactly what I do. Of course, managing different roles in my professional and personal life takes a lot of planning. I live on a tight schedule and at the same time it requires me to be very adaptable and constantly communicate as unexpected situations pop up. Be it a sick child or an unpredictable challenge at work, situations can throw everything out of balance. When unforeseen challenges surface you need to rethink, ask for support, look for creative solutions, utilize all resources and sometimes ask for understanding. This is really a mantra for my total life. The combination of planning and flexibility allows me to create a healthy balance between work, my family and time for myself. Of course, I don’t achieve this ideal balance every day, but there is such a thing as an overarching balance that I create, and I am admittedly proud of it. I need enough time for each aspect of my life to give my best in the respective others. I am convinced that with the right planning, creative thinking and communication skills, you can be in balance and you never have to choose. Just remember, you can have it all and should not compromise on that!

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Carolin Schreyer

About the editor: Carolin Schreyer

Carolin is responsible for our Pharmacy and Selective Brands within the Corporate Communications team. In this way she takes care of international communication projects of brands like Eucerin, Aquaphor, Hansaplast and La Prairie.