Fragrance Foundation Honors Givaudan CEO Gilles Andrier

Givaudan CEO Gilles Andrier is an exemplary leader who is beloved and admired by all those who have worked for him -and with him, throughout his career. Over his two decades at Givaudan, he has not only enhanced the company’s value, but has built a network of strong global relationships and a reputation for trust and enthusiasm.

As he is honored by the Fragrance Foundation with their prestigious 2024 Hall of Fame Award, here is a repost of their Interview with Gilles Andrier…

“My favorite part of my job is the interactions,” says Givaudan CEO Gilles Andrier “I’m most stimulated when I’m engaged with others. It can be with clients or with an employee in the plant or in the lab, but I am happiest when at the end of every day I can say that I learned something.”

About receiving the prestigious Hall of Fame recognition, Andrier says, “It’s a great honor. I embrace it for myself, but I also feel that it is a recognition of what’s at the heart of perfume—the perfumers, the craftsmanship, the magic of this business which I have loved for the last 30 years without any diminishing intensity. It is a recognition of Givaudan, which is a wide company because it has made so many acquisitions, but also a deep company because it goes back 250 years to when the industry started.”

Speaking from Geneva, just one stop on his forever-busy travel schedule, Andrier gives a glimpse into his life beyond Givaudan—he is married to acclaimed Vice President perfumer Daniela Andrier, with whom he has raised six children—and reveals how his personal passions inform his work as CEO. “I would say that exploring, experimenting, and never being afraid of doing things differently has shaped me,” he says, “and has let me become more of who I truly am, rather than just a guy in a suit.”

Givaudan VP Daniela Andrier, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Karyn Khoury and Givaudan CEO Gilles Andrier

How has being married to a perfumer shaped the way that you view fragrance? 

Perfumers are at the heart of what we do. Being married to a perfumer has greatly enhanced my understanding of their perspective. For example, seeing how their work has to adjust to the fast changing environment surrounding them, handling the increasing speed and number of projects, and  working with a palette of ingredients constrained with ever more regulations. The palette of ingredients is, like the alphabet, the only thing they have in common. However, the beauty of fragrance creation is the diversity of perfumers, each expressing themselves in a different language. So there are as many perfumers as individualities. Therefore, being married to a perfumer gave me one perspective, but conscious it is unique to her.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not working? 

I have a lovely family, and we enjoy exploring, traveling, and spending time together. And I cannot stop myself from being active. I love sports, especially cycling. And I love listening to music. I have always thought there is a similarity between music and perfume in the way that they touch emotions. A perfume is like putting a magical piece of music into a bottle.

Do you apply any insights or strategies from your leisure pursuits to your leadership at Givaudan? 

I used to do a lot of sailboat racing when I was young, and how you work with a crew, how you help each other, how you are in there on the same boat being safe but also competing, and how you face the elements of the ocean and the wind—all of those things say a lot about individuals, but also how they behave as a team facing adversity. And when running Givaudan, these images sometimes resurface for me. It’s not like running a large company is like sailing a big boat, but there are a lot of analogies around how people can work together.

How has your leadership style changed over the years that you’ve been with Givaudan? 

It’s changed a lot. At the beginning, I was a bit intimidated. I had to learn about a lot that I had not been used to, like dealing with investors and shareholders—and it’s a very large company, so it wasn’t just about scaling up what I had done in the past but doing additional things that I hadn’t done before. In that stage of learning you are not yet totally yourself because you are being careful and safe. But there comes a moment when you begin to explore different ways of managing. I have experimented with ways of communicating and finding the right level of involvement in details. And I think that over time it has been a journey where I have become more and more myself.

What qualities do you think are most essential for good leadership? 

Curiosity is the greatest strength I’ve had in all my jobs. The interest and ability to listen. When you show curiosity then you engage teams and the whole company. I’m also quite a demanding guy and if I don’t get something, I will go and chase it. That’s why I think Givaudan is performing quite nicely today. But the other thing that is important is humility. With humility comes the idea of being yourself in the job and shaping the job the way you want to shape it. Having humility inspires others to come closer to you. It is a good friend because you know what you don’t know and that you’re never at the top—there is always more to learn. I think that is essential.

In what ways do you think that building an emphasis on diversity is important, not only at Givaudan but in the fragrance industry as a whole? 

It’s extremely important. When Givaudan shaped our purpose years ago it was not just about our impact on the environment, we also made ambitious targets and commitments on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s not just to look good—I hate that the same way I hate greenwashing. We are people who, when we say we are going to do something, always deliver. Diversity is really part of the culture of Givaudan because we are a consolidation of many companies in many different countries, with 16,000 people around the world. It’s built into our DNA, but we are focused on making progress and helping everyone feel included. That’s work we do every day. And it’s not just inside the company. We have consumers who embrace all genders and all types of diversity and we need to be relevant to them when we create fragrances.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

I could go with figures. Givaudan was worth 4 billion when I started. It’s worth 40 billion now. But everybody will forget figures and those types of achievements. I think my biggest achievement is the common recognition that Givaudan is a “Human Company.” I have always believed it is almost more important how results are achieved than the results themselves. It is about the culture of a company, which makes companies sustain. It’s about feeling that you’re doing something good and contributing.

It’s the type of leader you are which makes the biggest impact. That’s what people remember.


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Meredith Schott
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