“Altering nation forces us to get out of inertia”, says director of Nestlé
Rachel Muller, executive director of coffees and beverages at Nestlé, took advantage of the country changes to diversify her career
At age 28, Rachel Muller landed a job as an intern at a multinational advertising agency in Bogota. Graduated in dentistry, she already practiced the profession in Brazil, but left the country to accompany her husband and saw the move as an opportunity to start over. “I liked communication and I wanted a profession that gave me more scope, I wanted to have work colleagues, I wanted to have meetings”, says the executive.
In a few months, she was hired in the customer service area to serve, who knew, Nestlé. Twenty years later, Muller occupies the executive board of the company’s coffee area. “I am very curious about everything and here I feel that I have something to constantly learn, as we take care of everything from choosing the producers to how the product looks on the supermarket shelf.”
Reaching this leadership position was not straightforward. Rachel’s curiosity led her to live in a few countries and experience three different careers before arriving at Nestlé, where she has been for 13 years. On her first move, to Bogotá, accompanying her first husband, she took the opportunity to make the career transition that she had already imagined before leaving the country and leaving the dental office for good. “When arriving in a new place, you naturally question yourself and are forced to recreate yourself, there is no inertia to continue doing what you already do.”
When she broke up, she returned to Brazil and, while she was planning a trip to study visual arts in Paris, she ended up going to Puerto Rico at the invitation of her then boyfriend. She changed her destiny, but she took the course and opened a low-cost decoration business, until her husband’s transfer to Mexico again changed the course of her career and her life. In the new country, she took on a management post at the McCann agency and, from there, received an invitation to manage marketing at Nestlé.
Despite the changes that followed her relationships, Rachel doesn’t see that she went to each new country because of love. “It was more because of my willingness to learn new things, to see new places, new people. I don’t look at life linearly, so those have always been opportunities for me,” she says. Career planning, for example, was never part of her professional routine. “There are so many variables in life that I prefer not to put energy into thinking about my next steps while I’m content with what I’m doing at the moment.”
It was also in Mexico that their daughter, now 10 years old, was born and who came to Brazil at 7 months old, when her mother was transferred to take up a local executive management role. “It was the hardest time because my husband was still in Mexico and I didn’t know he needed to ask for help, tell people what was going on. I expected people to know naturally and today I see that it doesn’t work like that.”
At the company, Muller rose to occupy the current position and has led several projects, such as the assisted pollination of the crop or the most recent one, which is the training of baristas among young people without resources. Through a partnership with the startup Agrobee, bees are transferred to the coffee plantation area in Chapada Diamantina, and are responsible for contributing to better quality beans, in addition to producing honey. The second project will be launched next week, together with Senac and the G10 Favelas, the group that brings together leaders of the largest Brazilian favelas. “People think that, because we are a multinational, we only work with large producers, but part of the grains are produced by families and it is very rich to participate in this process.”
career turning point
“Leaving the dentist’s office and going into the business world, something I love and that arouses my curiosity. I like working with a team, having co-workers, looking at the strategy.”
Causes I embrace
“I care about following this whole chain, dealing with producers, running our family succession program and having an impact on these people’s lives. We train the young children of these families to look at coffee as another possibility, for innovation, and to develop the family business. I think much more about it than the position I will have.”
First leadership position
“Marketing management when I joined Nestlé.”