Rémy has worked for Nestlé for his entire career, first with an advertising agency that worked on Nestlé’s confectionary brands and then for Nestlé proper. He joined Nestlé 19 years ago in Saudi Arabia and subsequently had several expatriation experiences in countries like Thailand, Dubai, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Oman and Switzerland.
“Working in so many different environments has reinforced my belief that if you apply yourself and work really hard, you will succeed,” he says. “I’ll share this example with you: In Dubai when I was a Brand Manager, I was leaving for home one evening, when I saw the Sales Director battling to put together a presentation. He was a really big guy, and his fingers were really too large to easily work on the laptop. So I said, ‘Can I help you?’, despite the fact that it really wasn’t my job. His relief and gratitude were immediately visible and we built the presentation together. I later helped him with other presentations and, in the process, gained a very broad perspective beyond my role as a Brand Manager. It also gave my career a boost because people were noticing that I had a much broader perspective than a brand manager would normally have.”
When it comes to work-life balance, Rémy believes that one should think in cycles rather than finding a balance day-to-day. “There are periods when one works longer hours under tight deadlines,” he says. “But then there are times when it is critical to spend more time with your family and your loved ones. It is an individual choice."
Rémy explains that he became acutely aware of this kind of cycle when his sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I approached my manager and asked for flexible time and a geographical change to get closer to my family,” he says. “Nestlé agreed and I was able to spend more time with my sister and my parents while she recuperated and we won against that disease.”
“Nestlé is 150 years old and has been in South Africa for over a 100 years,” says Rémy. “Yet, its purpose has never changed. In every country across the world, Nestlé’s purpose is to enhance the quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. We know we have challenges in South Africa regarding poverty and hunger. But as the number one Nutrition Health and Wellness Company it means that we can make a difference.”
Rémy emphasises that Nestlé people are guided by their values and driven by purpose. In all the time that Rémy has worked for Nestlé, he has never had to make a decision that is contrary to his values, which coincide with Nestlé’s. “When we talk about our values, one word is extremely important — respect. It is not a word on a piece of paper, it is something that is lived every day. Respect for yourself and your ability to live with integrity. Respect for others, respect for diversity. Respect for the future and for our children.”
Achieving success in one’s career is not only about luck. “There is something to the idea of being in the right place at the right time, but it is also true that one must seize opportunities. I have been very curious and positive in my life. I believe that we can move mountains. The only thing is that we have to be sensitive when we try to support others. In this way, they will in turn support you to become stronger and make a difference. And in the end there is nothing more rewarding than making a difference.”