The Business Year

Adriana Gonzalez

ECUADOR - Industry

The Human Side

President, Kimberly-Clark Ecuador

Bio

Adriana Gonzalez was born in Venezuela and received a Bachelor’s degree from the University Catolica Andres Bello. Afterward, she pursued a Master’s in Business Administration at Metropolitana University. In 1992 she started working for Avon Cosmetics Venezuela. In 1996, she joined Kimberly-Clark Venezuela as Marketing Manager, and moved to Costa Rica in 2002 to lead the Family Care category in Central America. In 2005 she moved to Brazil to lead the Family Care Category for Latin America. She has been Country Manager of Kimberly-Clark Ecuador since June 2012.

"We are in a very positive double-digit trend in terms of the growth of gross profit for the company in the last few years."

What is the background story to Kimberly-Clark’s presence in Ecuador?

We entered the Ecuadorean market 18 years ago, and we have been operating in two main segments: diapers and bathroom tissues. Our entrance to Ecuador was through purchasing a local company, and it took a transition period to implement the acquisition and bring Kimberly-Clark’s international standards to the operating processes of the local company. Today, we are a leading company in the market with our consumer brands known worldwide, such as HUGGIES®, KLEENEX®, SCOTT®, KOTEX®, POISE®, KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL®, FLOR®, JACKSON SAFETY®, KLEENGUARD®, and WYPALL®. For example, in Ecuador we own 71% of the market in the diapers segment, 49% in bathroom tissues, and 27% of the market in the sanitary products for women segment. We have very much improved our position in the last few years thanks to the acquisition of several brands in the sector. We also operate in other areas, such as security clothing for companies, wipers, soaps, and cleaning products, among others behind our institutional line, Kimberly-Clark Professional. Over the years, we have also invested large amounts of money in a production facility in Ecuador. At the moment, we produce mainline diapers (we only import premium products in this area) and some sanitary products. Quality standards are one of our main concerns and focuses, and we invest every year in making sure that we present products with the highest quality standards to our clients. Our mission is to lead the world in essentials for a better life.

What role does innovation play in your business activity?

We have innovation centers across the world, whose main work is to develop new products for our portfolio. They also carry out detailed market research in order to establish strategic lines when it comes to importing products from other markets and developing production facilities in operating countries. We apply innovation in our product portfolio, production lines, and commercial strategies. Kimberly-Clark Ecuador has been a pioneer in electronic billing for the wholesale segment, and we apply innovative strategies to the production chain to give our products added value and make them more competitive and attractive for consumers. These are just a few examples, for we always aim to offer better services and products to consumers. In the last few years, we have been very innovative in Ecuador in terms of the new products and lines launched into the market, as well as detailed market research in the country.

“We are in a very positive double-digit trend in terms of the growth of gross profit for the company in the last few years.”

What are the particularities of the Ecuadorean market?

According to our market research in the region, there are more similarities than differences between South American markets; however, it is very important for multinational companies to understand the commercial behavior of local markets in the region. In this context, Ecuador offers the perfect scenario to implement pilot projects for the region. In our particular case, Ecuador was the country where we implemented—for the first time in the Andean region—a very innovative planning strategy, and we have exported many business practices from this country to other regional markets. That is a great advantage for Ecuador, for in cases of a recognized multinational like ours, we can showcase those successful practices and strategies and export them.

How have operating profits evolved in recent years?

We are in a very positive double-digit trend in terms of the growth of gross profit for the company in the last few years. For example, in 2012 we grew around 10%, and this has been our average growth figure for the last five years. Regarding market share, we are constantly growing, and we have experienced a very positive recovery in portfolios of great value for consumers, which shows that they really value our products.

What role does Ecuador play in Kimberly-Clark’s regional operations?

Ecuador is very important in the region; it is a mid-sized country with a huge potential for gradual and sustainable growth. For that reason, we have very ambitious plans in terms of asset investment and the expansion of product portfolios. Ecuador is extremely important for the company’s global activity in terms of human capital. There are several key positions at the regional level that are held by Ecuadorean professionals.

How relevant is social responsibility in your business model?

Sustainability and social responsibility are two of the main pillars of the company’s business model. We take into consideration all the stakeholders of our value chain, supporting the communities where we operate while generating Kimberly-Clark’s brand visibility. We dedicate many resources to environmentally friendly practices and production activities. Our innovation activity is also very much focused toward reducing the impact of our production activities on the environment. Furthermore, we are a company that prioritizes the human side of business rather than just the economic. This is one of our most precious competitive advantages, and we are among the top companies to work for in the entire Latin American region, if not the world. We have achieved such important milestones thanks to our continued efforts to provide career prospects to our staff. We create value-added in those items that already have value.

What are the challenges facing the further expansion of the company in Ecuador?

Our main objective is to continue our sustainable growth experienced over the last few years, as well as to continue expanding our product portfolio in the best interest of consumers. That will allow us to grow our activities and market share in the country. This can only be achieved thanks to the contribution of every single individual involved in our activity in Ecuador from administrative staff to specialized workers and partners. Ecuador holds huge potential, and we can continue providing our company with more skilled and qualified Ecuadorean employees for relevant positions within the regional and international operations of Kimberly-Clark.

© The Business Year – June 2013

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