HR HOTSPOT: Interview with Tracey Robson

Tell us about your current HR leadership role?

I currently head up the HR team that support the Global Marketing functions for Avon Cosmetics.

My role partners the Senior Leaders and their teams who are based in several locations across the world.

Recently my focus has been supporting end to end transformation work for the Global Marketing functions, so we are set up for success & are agile enough to compete in a very fast moving & highly competitive market.

The new leadership teams that are on-board have been incredibly inspiring about the vision & future of Avon and the potential of our business. It is a very exciting time.

I have an amazing HR team who work with me to partner our business and and I am very lucky to work with people who are so passionate and dedicated about the HR role and the impact we can collectively have.

How would you describe the culture there at Avon Cosmetics?

Having worked at Avon for several years, I would say the one aspect that hasn’t changed is it’s core values and the relationship aspect of its culture.

People who join Avon always comment on how friendly and welcoming the organisation is.

Over recent years it is no secret that Avon has been through significant change just like many other companies.  You need to evolve and stay current to remain successful and Avon is no different.

The relationship aspect and the link to our values has helped us navigate our way through change - I always say ‘you can have a tough conversation, take tough decisions and still respect people’.

Describe the career journey that led you to your current role?

I have a lot of people who influenced, encouraged and pushed me at times in my career.

When I didn’t secure a HR local market role, I was very disappointed and off the back of that decision I was told to go and do a Regional HR role to get real growth and develop me further.

As a result of that I was offered the role of supporting the EMEA IT group of around 450 associates. I was not happy at the time as this role was a sideways move and not a promotion but after discussion and agreement to take it, what it gave me was the leap into something new and broader in terms of ownership, diversity & complexity.

If I hadn’t have been pushed, I would not have gained the experience I now have of working through a complex matrix, working with other cultures & meeting some incredible people along the way and I certainly wouldn’t have been prepared for the Global role I have today.

Sometimes we don’t know what is good for us and I am very grateful for that push and for the lateral thinking at that time in how to develop me further.

Are there any career defining moments or people that helped shape your career in HR?

I have had the good fortune of carrying out many HR roles whilst at Avon, but before Avon, and before my first HR role I always moved on after 2 years trying new things – restless and certainly not satisfied with my job.

I applied to Avon for a Buyers role & got an interview but was unsuccessful. The HR person at that time held my CV on file & called me back for an HR role in the Manufacturing plant as I had previously been a recruitment consultant for a very short period & from there, I ventured into HR starting right on the bottom rung as a recruitment /admin assistant. I never looked back.

It is with great thanks to Anne Gill who was my Boss at the time who took a chance on me and spotted someone she thought she could grow and coach and continued to show belief in me and to this day this remains the case.

My first stand-alone Head of HR role in our Corby site and my first Regional role were again career defining moments in being brave and saying YES I will do it! Resulting in a growth of confidence in my own ability.  Having someone who you trust, and who has your back and believes in you is a very powerful thing but self-belief (not arrogance) and humility when growing and learning are your best friends for sure.

What would your advice be to your younger self?

Believe in yourself and remember it is OK to make mistakes – how else do you learn?

I spent so much time listening to my inner demon in my early years thinking others were better than me in many ways , that I must never  fail or make an error - even when I had others around me telling me I was crazy for thinking like that!

Instead of walking into a room thinking 'why wouldn’t they like me'? I always went in thinking 'what if they don’t like me?' Or if I made an error, you learn from it, and it is usually OK!

It would have been so helpful to have had that belief in my teens/early twenties.

.. there is a fitting quote. 'The sky is not the limit - your mind is'.

Culture's HR 'Hotspot' is brought to you by our HR Director, Nicola Morris. For any enquiry, contact Nicola on: or 0121 272 6494 / 07769 209607

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17th October

Career Advice