Synergizing Agility

An Interview with Kenny Hutomo – Alumni XLFL Batch 6
Commercial Management Trainee of L’Oreal

Kenny Hutomo

We’ve probably heard the term “New Normal” countless times since the day it was first coined due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After three months of working from home and having to do everything virtually, companies have come with various policies in response to the decision that’s been made by the government. But the question is, are you even ready to face the so-called “New Normal”?

This month, we’re digging deep into what “New Normal” means to our alumni, from those who work for startups and a more established company, and from the one who runs their own business. To understand as to how we should respond to this condition, I talked to Kenny Hutomo, L’Oreal’s Commercial Management Trainee, about maintaining agility during the “New Normal” from a professional’s perspective.

Kenny Hutomo

Kenny is currently L’Oreal’s Commercial Management Trainee, specifically handling trade marketing for the brand Maybelline. Most of his work is focusing on maintaining, building partnerships, and creating deals with drug stores and other types of modern trades. Other than that, he is also entrusted to construct marketing strategies to make sure that the products are well-delivered and well-represented to the market.

Not only is he focusing on his work, but Kenny himself is also allocating his time to always give back through a series of online webinars and sharing sessions discussing the most common issues faced by university students and fresh graduates, from crafting CV to applying and landing a job. For him, regardless of what the medium is, knowledge should be available for everyone. It’s a matter of doing it with purpose as he also gathers donations to help those who are heavily affected by the pandemic through his online webinars.

For Kenny, this is his first time working from home for quite a significant amount of time. “It’s a completely different experience”, he said. All the meetings are done through Microsoft Teams, and it takes even more time to set up the meeting. When you usually do a one-hour meeting offline, there are some technical issues happening that add an extra 30 minutes to your meeting when it is made online. Well, who can relate? (Duh, us!)

Kenny told me that L’Oreal has created a couple of policies to help the employee to adapt with the current situation. They will be given a schedule as to when they are allowed to come to the office. The company has also provided hand sanitizers, body temperature checking, and a more flexible working hour, where employees could come to the office starting from 6 am to 6 pm.

“As an employee I believe that one of the ways that we can tackle this condition is by supporting the company’s policy. Respect the policies that have been made. If it’s your turn to come to the office, then simply obey.”

When we take a look at his role as a commercial management trainee, not only is he responsible to L’Oreal as his employer, he’s also responsible to all the trading channels where L’Oreal listed their products in. With all this in hand, there are more challenges than just reporting performances of each product, it’s also about maintaining relationships and connection with all the channel members. “It requires multi-stakeholder coordination, a lot of vendors, and a lot of external stakeholders. What I do to maintain is to communicate weekly for 30 minutes, at least once a week. Our IT department has also provided guidelines to help these channel members to utilize the platform that we use as well.” When we take a look at what Kenny, the company, and all its stakeholders are doing during this situation, to simply put, coordination and synergistic work are keys to achieving this collective vision of the company.

Agility in the New Normal

“In a situation where everything is uncertain and ambiguous, everybody is expected to be agile … to have what’s known as the adaptation skill. It’s not about who’s the strongest, but it’s about who’s more adaptive to the new norm. And for me personally adaptation skill is a part of being agile itself.”

His experience of having to respond with agility is shown especially when he has to deliver results. When it usually takes him three days to work on a report, now Kenny might have to speed it up to only one to two days to support the company’s coming decisions. Kenny also says about the types of persons L’Oreal are looking for in these challenging times, where company’s budget allocation for talents are limited. Kenny personally thinks that his company is looking for a high-talented person; someone who knows and understands the current market condition, how the company is surviving, and is able to bring to the table fresh ideas to solve challenges.

3 Keys to Survive in the New Normal

  1. Being Agile; Being agile has been one of the key criteria as we’re expected to be quick in processing ideas and executing plans.
  2. Being Resilient; There are a lot of companies who are facing challenges and down-falls. But as an employee, being resilient, hard-working, and having the right fighting spirit are the traits that could help support the company.
  3. Being patient; This situation puts us into a place where we have to try a lot of new things and sometimes, they just don’t work out on our first try. However, being patient would help us to learn from what we’re lacking from and grow understanding from it.

Written by: Veda Renata – XLFL Batch 7