Executive Interview Series | Georgegina Poulos | Global Director P&C | T2

By Jennifer Galvin-Rowley

This conversation is brought to you by Galvin-Rowley Executive. As executive recruitment specialists, we worked with Unilever’s T2 to place Georgegina Poulos in this role in 2017. As a savvy, dynamic and results-driven individual, Georgegina started as Global Director of People and Culture for T2 and within eighteen months add to this role the Global Retail Operations for Unilever. She has made an impressive impact in this very big role over the last four years.

T2 are a global leader in tea. They have turned the drink of tea into an experience. T2 focuses on reinventing and reimagining the experiences surrounding the humble tea leaf. Their speciality is reaching into the ancient tea rituals, reimagining them and delivering them to the modern tea table.

T2 has over 80 stores globally in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore.

Unilever is the parent company of T2, and a global consumer brand business. Their vast empire of brands ranges from nutritionally balanced foods to indulgent ice creams, affordable soaps, luxurious shampoos and everyday household care products. They produce world-leading brands including Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Axe, Hellmann’s and Omo, alongside trusted local names and innovative-forward thinking brands like Ben & Jerry’s, The Dollar Shave Club and Dermalogica.

Name: Georgegina Poulos | Company: T2 | Role: Global Director People & Culture | Years In Role: Five

To start this conversation, can you tell us what initially attracted you to this People & Culture role with T2?

I have always loved the brand and when I saw the position advertised, I thought what an awesome brand to work for. Having a global portfolio was also part of the attraction.

And then layer on this Global Retail Operations Role for Unilever. What is the appeal of also taking on this role?

I was excited to be given the opportunity to expand my portfolio into supporting the other Retail brands within Unilever. Global Retail Operations was a relevantly new team, and I was able to bring my Retail HR experience to support the wonderful brands.

What was your background before joining T2?

I have quite a diverse background and have the wonderful opportunity to work with some amazing brands across a variety of industries including Local Government, retail, logistics, supply chain, energy, hospitality and foodservice.

What has been the most rewarding part of working for the T2 business?

Too hard to just pick one! I have loved being able to build a people-first strategy that is lived not just a poster on the wall. Having the ability to push the boundaries and challenge our organisation to embed our purpose in all that we say and do.

Unilever is a true industry leader with such an impressive portfolio of brands. What do you find inspiring about working with such a large organisation?​

Working for such a large organisation that really wants to make a difference inspires me to want to do the same each and every day.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

Now that is an interesting question. No two days are the same, however, I have built in some boundaries to manage the current situation of work-from-home, global pandemic and global hours. An example of this includes;

  • I check emails between 0530-0600
  • I exercise between 0600-0700
  • I meet with my team to connect with each of them at 1630 – the intent is a social connection rather than a work call
  • When allowed we have family dinner with my husband’s family on Mondays
  • I try and limit global calls to Wednesday and Thursday nights

We are currently in a period of changing work environments bought about by COVID. What have been the greatest challenges your organisation has faced during this period?

Constant lockdowns and their impact includes;

Mental health and wellbeing of our team members

Stores not being able to trade

Uncertainty around planning for the future

Still considering the impact of COVID; what would be the greatest positives, or benefits that your organisation can take away from this period of change?

With every challenge, there is always learnings and opportunities. For us, we were able to pivot to our online offering quickly, the resilience of our team members, we didn’t stop doing what was important – living our purpose and continued to invest in our sustainability and diversity and inclusion agenda. Above all, the decisions we have made around protecting our team members.

There has been much discussion about gender equity in the workplace in recent times. As a leading female executive, what advice would you offer other women working in your industry?

Be bold, be strong and be confident.

What would be your top time management tips?

That is a hard question. Most would describe me as “I just don’t know how you do it”.

Knowing what is important at the time and being able to say to yourself and others it can wait and not being rigid with a to-do list.

Being comfortable in flux, that is the new normal – everything will get done just need to know what to start on.

Do you have a favourite book and/or podcast that inspires your business direction and motivation?

I am currently reading ‘Think Like a Monk’ by Jay Shetty. In these times I think we need to be kind to ourselves and take a moment for just us. Jay’s work inspires me to do just that.

Find out more:
Visit Georgegina Poulos on LinkedIn

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