A look at the curriculum of Barbara Martin Coppola and the reading of the positions she has occupied leads to imagine one of those serious executives, addicted to work and with a steel look that has grown based on intelligence, predatory instinct and personal renunciations: of product in Texas Instruments (Germany, France, Finland, Japan and the USA), global marketing manager in Samsung from Korea, different managerial positions in Google in France and in Silicon Valley, global head of Product Marketing on YouTube, and CMO of GrubHub's home-based food distribution giant at its Chicago headquarters. All this before his arrival at the Ikea headquarters in Copenhagen last January.
Your service sheet imposes. But then you see her, and her smile and her simplicity dismantle you. Barbara is kind, warm and fun. His casual appearance and his somewhat disheveled black hair indicate that the dictates of fashion do not affect him, and that he prefers to focus on efficiency and optimization of his time: family and children are the number one priority, and everything else remains subordinated to them.
"When my first child was born, I was part of Google's management team in France. She was the only woman, and the only person with children. I felt guilty about having to go to see my son, or not being able to attend something because he had gone bad. However, with maturity, I have realized that there are things I can not accept, that are not negotiable: I leave work at 5 every day, without exceptions, and at that time there is no electronics, calls or emails The companies that want to work with me have to accept it: it's important for my personal happiness, and that makes me a better professional. I miss events or trips where I should be, I miss many opportunities, but I am clear that my family is my priority now. "
Barbara recognizes that her case is an exception and that most women can not reconcile work and family life: "I have had the luxury of being able to stand, and that has opened the way for other people to enjoy the same rights. But still not the case of most women, of course. I also have a very open-minded husband who has always supported me and who, in fact, has encouraged me to take on new challenges. "
- The great challenge of digitizing Ikea
The challenge facing this Madrid is colossal, probably one of the most ambitious digitization projects worldwide. Ikea CEO Jesper Brodin announced in November the total transformation of the business to adapt to the new digital environment, "which is changing the landscape of the sector retail at a scale and speed never seen. "The plan, led by Martin Coppola, includes the hiring in the next two years of 11,500 people and the dismissal or relocation of another 7,500 positions that will be redundant.
The changes will be carried out on multiple fronts. On the one hand, they will have to rethink and redesign the entire consumer experience in the digital world and its fusion with the physical world (stores, logistics and deliveries, new products and services, etc.). For example, says Barbara, Ikea's large stores in the outskirts of cities can also serve as distribution centers to get any furniture to the house of customers in record time, no matter where they bought it.
I have found many sexist and macho attitudes in the technology sector. But you have to know not to enter the rag: you do not have to be a judge with everything "
Another big challenge is in the internal part of the company: see how they work today, what tools and technologies are used and what information they have to make decisions and manage the company in a more efficient way. The change will also affect how they are organized: forms of work characteristic of the digital world and the startups, like Agile methodologies and philosophy lean startup they are susceptible of being implanted in multiple levels internally, assures with optimism Martin Coppola.
The global CDO of Ikea sees no differences in the way women and men are managed. "That depends on the person, there are too many stereotypes that the woman has more emotional intelligence, but I have seen many women with zero empathy, forgetting about gender and valuing each person for their worth, but you have to make the collective female advance ".
On the product side, and facing the imminence of a future dominated by home automation and electronics at home, Ikea has embraced the concept of open innovation as a method of working with suppliers and partners, opening up to ideas from all parts to offer new solutions. Ensures that they are already collaborating with startups around the world, and that many do bootcamps with developers to think and co-create in multiple dimensions, as a way of being open and relying on collective intelligence to design new products and services.
Regarding cutting-edge technologies, Ikea works on multiple projects with augmented reality and virtual reality because it helps to visualize space, but for Martin Coppola the basis is artificial intelligence: "It is not optional, it is obligatory and on AI they are built applications with different technologies, for example combining it with 3D models to help design interiors ".
The Madrid-based company hopes that the results will start to appear quickly in the external part, that of the client, precisely thanks to the agile methods: "Instead of making plans and plans, we will take something, we will improve it a bit, and then with iterations with the consumer will do it better and better in an informed way ". The internal part instead will take more time, the first objective will be to change the mentality, but it is a lot of people and to get it you have to make them feel comfortable with the new methods of work.
When talking about women at work, and more specifically in the technology sector, Barbara recomposes the gesture and becomes serious, her voice becomes more serious. "Yes, I have found many sexist and macho attitudes in the technology sector. But you have to know not to enter the rag: you do not have to be a judge with everything, you can change things without having to be fighting at all times. I think we have to educate and let society evolve little by little. "
However, it ensures that you do not have to accept what is happening in Google, the lack of a certain minimum number of women in management positions from one level. "Putting certain minimum quotas could be beneficial, always maintaining the level of quality and demand. In a company that I can not mention, engineering tests were carried out to decide who was being registered and who was not. When they decided to eliminate the names of the candidates for the evaluation of the code, the number of female candidates who passed the test increased significantly. "
When Barbara talks about her career, she is humble and even fragile at times. He admits that he was very hesitant to accept the challenge that IKEA put in front of him, but that in the end he decided because he fell in love with the company's culture and the determined support of his family. "Advancing in the professional career is often a mental issue, to overcome your fears and barriers, if you succeed, then you can look back and say wow, everything I've done" And what remains to be done!