By Lena Hansen and Thatiana Diaz
March 14, 2017
Cortesía de Stefanie Keenan/Neutrogena

Michelle Freyre, the chairman of Johnson & Johnson's beauty line in the United States, handles well-known brands such as Aveeno and Neutrogena and this year is one of People en Español's 25 Most Powerful Women. Now, the Puerto Rican executive is exclusively sharing some of her tips on beauty and leadership.

What has been key to your professional success?

I feel that the most important thing for my professional growth has been to take risks. I left Puerto Rico to come to the United States for a better education. Years later, I took the risk of changing my career to become the general manager of Neutrogena. And a few months ago we took the risk of moving from the city to start a new life in New Jersey with the goal of making my dream come true: to be president of U.S. beauty of Johnson & Johnson.

What advice would you give to other Latinas who want to grow within the business world?

At the beginning of my career, I had a mentor who asked me what I aspired to do and I told them, at the time, that my dream was to be the leader of Neutrogena someday. They told me that they believed in me and that my dream was not beyond my reach, but that I needed to expand my professional experience to reach my goal. So they pushed me to move from the marketing field to sales, which helped me gain the knowledge needed to be a Johnson & Johnson leader. The advice I would give to those Latinas like me is to never stop persevering and dreaming, because there is no dream impossible to reach. Challenges and risks accompanied by passion, education, and determination are key to success.

What do you enjoy most about your job at Johnson & Johnson?

I enjoy and support cultural diversity within the organization. At Johnson & Johnson, we achieve this through our focus on hiring, training and developing the skills of a diverse workforce that reflects the reality of our market. We also foster an open culture that accepts individuality. It is important that [our team members] feel the freedom to be authentic in their work and to have self-confidence in order to succeed.

How does this company represent the Hispanic consumer?

At Johnson & Johnson, we are clear that in order to reach the Hispanic consumer, it is necessary not only to understand them, but to speak to them in their language and to allow them to feel identified with their culture. Our organization evolves with the consumer, understands their needs and provides the education and resources necessary for the well-being of their family. Our intention is to create an authentic connection with a market priority.

How do you find the balance between your career and personal life?

Now more than ever being that I am fortunate to be a mother, I believe that balance is the reflection of well-being and happiness. As long as you give the best of yourself to each situation, you allow yourself to enjoy the best of every aspect of yourself. The professional and the mother are both a part of you, they require different disciplines but often these capacities are intertwined and impart wisdom and understanding to the other. Having the teachings and perspectives of my past and present experiences help me find the ideal balance point.

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