Sandrine Desbarbieux-Lloyd is a senior executive with over 25 years of international experience, leading organizations in the implementation of strategic change and digital transformation. She is the European Vice President of Digital at Samsung, where she oversees digital sales and marketing, a multi-billionpound business across 33 countries in Europe. In this role, she is driving Samsung’s digital transformation including major innovation such as machine learning applications. Previously, Sandrine was the Director of Marketing and Digital at Avis Budget Group with the responsibility for all digital platforms and marketing programs across Europe, Middle East and Africa. She has also held several senior ecommerce, digital and marketing roles for internationally recognized consumer brands including BT, LACOSTE, AXA, BAA, E.ON and BUPA.

“People are at the heart of any business so working together is the only way to win”

Notable in her career is the national launch of broadband and Wi-Fi for the first time in the UK. This extremely challenging role involved defining the wireless strategy for BT Group following the de-merger of 02, building a mobility business, launching BT Openzone the UK’s first Public WLAN service, and the re-launch of BT Mobile a new SP/MVNO business.

In an interview with Insights Success, Sandrine talks about her undulating entrepreneurial journey and the hurdles she overcame.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?

I believe the key to customer satisfaction is customer research and meeting customer needs. At Samsung, we go one step further. We innovate in our products and services not just by understanding what customers want, but also what customers do not know they want. Customer needs and behaviours change all the time; every generation, every segment, every customer is different, so it’s a core skill in the organisation. We put our customers first.

Where are you focusing your energy now, and where do you hope to make an impact next?

I believe that the new era of tech (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Deep thLearning/Automation/Cloud Computing/Big Data) – the 4 industrial revolution – will drive profound change and these changes have already started in many ways. At least 50% of human tasks today could be automated, leaving people to focus on more valuable activities. For example, we spend a lot of our time focusing on intelligent automation of analytics to be able to focus the teams on insight and trading.

What is your idea of impactful leadership? What style of leadership do you personally prefer and have implemented within your team at Samsung Electronics?

In order to drive transformation as a woman business leader at Samsung, I focus on:

Identifying key stakeholders, clients and suppliers
Actively listening to them by asking open questions
Trying to understand the different agendas and motivations by putting myself in the shoes of their stakeholders, clients and suppliers
Defining a win-win strategy with my colleagues
Surrounding myself with teams and people who are better than me
Delivering against my promises – always
Supporting others around me in challenging times and praising/rewarding success
And measuring everything!
What roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?

Earlier in my career, I worked in the Telecoms industry when companies were strategically moving into ICT (Information and Communications Technology). It was a big and exciting challenge for me. At the age of 25, I was building e-Commerce solutions, running multi-million campaigns across traditional and digital channels, launching Broadband and Wi-Fi for the first time in the UK. Whilst on that journey, I met a few clients who were resistant to change. I remember the Marketing Director of a global hotel chain stating that she didn’t believe Wi-Fi would take off! Looking back, I now realise that one of the biggest challenges in corporate businesses is to understand others, why they think what they think, putting yourself in their shoes, and defining how best to take them with you on that journey.

What are the vital traits that every woman business leader should possess?

I believe women in business should especially use emotional intelligence to lead. On top on this, they should use the same skills as any good leader: visionary and strategic, innovative, good communicator, trustworthy, problem-solver, accountable, empathetic, transparent, humble and resilient.

The best teams are made of differences, so made of men and women.

What have you envisioned for your organization’s future, with regards to your role at Samsung Electronics and for your personal ambitions as well?

My role is Digital transformation. It is change by nature, constant change. It is part of the job. As a team, we are used to change. We take calculated risks, we try things out, we succeed, we fail, we learn, we roll-out, etc. Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies will drive even greater change.

AI is not new, it is already happening everywhere. Algorithms pre-recommend the content we see and watch and the products we buy across all areas of our lives today. Instead of businesses storing their valuable customer data to a central server in one location, blockchain brings with it a decentralised model. It breaks the data into small chunks across the network. Effectively, businesses will only be able to store and use very limited parts of customer data at specific times. No longer owning customer data will change most businesses. We need to get ready for that.

These technologies will change my job, everyone’s jobs, and also our business models.

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