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A legend in leadership: Clynton Bartholomeusz

The man behind the Australian and New Zealand branch of Beiersdorf, Managing Director Clynton Bartholomeusz, has proven that through engaging with everyone and creating a leadership culture, growth is the only way forward. Clynton has always been comfortable taking the lead. Looking back, he was always made a class and school captain while growing up and through these experiences has learnt what it is to be a good leader. “Leaders create culture, and culture drives
performance,” Clynton highlights.

“For the past ten years, it has been my focus to develop leaders through all parts of the organisation.” After being with the company for 17 years, and the Managing Director since 2001, Clynton believes this development is the key to Beiersdorf standing out when there is so much competition. With blue-chip brand NIVEA, as well as Elastoplast and Leuko, Beiersdorf has grown from being a little player to a growing, middle-sized player within the Australian and New Zealand markets.

“When this happens, it is easy to sit back and let the new products flourish, as we had seen their popularity in Europe,” Clynton affirms. “However, escalation means big competitors start to focus in on how they can start to slow your growth, which is why we had to look at a cultural change. “Growing financial expectations from our local trade and head office also made me realise a step up to the next level had to be made within the organisation itself.”

Clynton Bartholomeusz Managing Director of Beiersdorf

As the leader of a business, you must be fully committed to cultural change, as the process involves a lot of time invested in developing skills, not only within the senior leadership team, but also the next level down. Using that philosophy, Clynton claims, “If you believe leaders create culture, that’s going to give you good results – and therefore it is something you want to foster through the whole organisation.”

Not only has the overall product performance improved since the implementation of cultural change – with NIVEA sitting at number one or two in eight out of nine major categories – but the whole supply chain has benefited from this outlook. “We had a very separate culture in our distribution centre, because the head office team is in North Ryde and the distribution team is over at Huntingwood,” Clynton explains.

“We very quickly found that there was no connection between the two sites. Therefore, with my general manager of supply, we really set about ensuring that we had a good, constructive culture at both sites. “Part of that, for me, was about being transparent with the team over in Huntingwood, giving them updates on how sales, market shares and profits were going.

Most people think that if you talk about those sorts of things, it could come back and bite you in a union negotiation or a wages claim. But, really, we set about ensuring that everyone understood we were all in this together and that if we worked collectively, the company would do well – and then, as a result, we would all do well.” This kind of transformation was always going to be difficult to achieve, as there is always going to be apprehension when embarking on cultural change.

As a longstanding supplier to Beiersdorf, we’ve come to know it well. The people are great to work with. Beiersdorf actively shares its objectives and strategies with us in a partnering approach, allowing DHL to assist Beiersdorf in achieving its objectives.” – Matt Casbolt, Managing Director, DHL Supply Chain New Zealand

“It is difficult to do something radical, especially when you’re sitting in a position of power. But there is also the realisation that what has got you to a certain point isn’t necessarily what’s going to take you to the next point, and that should set off some creative alarm bells,” Clynton comments. This year, Beiersdorf’s flagship brand, NIVEA, is celebrating its one-hundredth year. Therefore, looking towards the next century there is a need for major global and local activation.

“We plan to do a lot of skin-care consultations and interactions with consumers, with targets of approximately two million contacts through sampling, giveaways, and in-store demonstrations,” informs Clynton. “We’ve also signed Rhianna as the global voice of NIVEA, and an exciting advertising campaign will be launched featuring her music.” Being part of the global landscape means taking current celebrities and incorporating them into the brand. As well as this, innovation and new products are important, because people are always looking for the next big thing. “Women in particular are always on the lookout, especially in the skin-care space,” Clynton says.

“However, you can’t really build a business solely on new products. You have to ensure that your everyday base sellers are growing every year, because not every product is going to be a booming success. So we focus on small tweaks as well, just to ensure our base products are doing well year after year.” As a global business, Beiersdorf is aware of the trends consumers are buying into overseas.

“Whatever the hottest trends are overseas, chances are it will be successful in Australia and New Zealand as well.” However, it also affords the company an opportunity to customise and re-think a certain product if it hasn’t done well. “The sun-care is something that we are given a lot more flexibility with here in Australia,” Clynton admits, “because Australia has unique sunscreen legislation within the local market.”

You have to show people that it’s okay to fail. It’s better to do something than not do anything at all.” – Clynton Bartholomeusz

As Managing Director, it is still vital for Clynton to try new things and implement new strategies. “You have to show people that it’s okay to fail. It’s better to do something than not do anything at all,” Clynton advises. “It’s important to show people that you have the best intentions, and that you are willing to try different things for the right reason.

That’s really what we have to do to get the edge up on our competitors – which is why I’m always encouraging people here to be creative.” This can be related back to the company products, and the need for fresh and innovative people. “When you’re small, starting out as a small player, you can afford to do different things; and sometimes you have to because you don’t have the budget that the big guys have,” Clynton mentions.

“That’s where some of my early lessons came from: taking risks and doing things a little bit differently.” As a true leader himself, Clynton realises that it can be difficult trying to find the next big thing and getting the courage to instigate change. “I think the best piece of advice is that you don’t know what you don’t know; don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling with a problem on how to take the organisation to the next level.

Just have an inquiring mind. Get out there and speak to people, and be open to the influence of other people around you.” Something that Clynton really prides himself on is the fact that he is a very approachable person. “I’m really open to the influence of others, and at any level of my or other organisations,” Clynton states. “I believe that none of us have all the answers.

It’s about getting out there and learning, reading, and being inquisitive.” By instilling these values on several employees, the benefits of Clynton’s constructive leadership can be seen through Beiersdorf’s growth. What started out as something overwhelmingly individual has had a snowballing effect across the entire organisation, producing exceptional results and leading the company into a bright future.

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