Welcome to a brand new episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Joining us in this episode is Michelle Freyre, the Global Brand President at Clinique, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., where she guides the brand’s overall strategic vision and drives global growth by introducing it to new and diverse audiences across generations.
Michelle is also a founding member of CHIEF, a private network designed to accelerate women in business and support women leaders. And she also participates in corporate mentorship and sponsorship programs following her dream and passion of developing future leaders.
In this conversation, Michelle talks to us about how being authentic was a powerful asset in her career growth. And she also shares how having a mentor/sponsor played a big role in empowering her to show up as her authentic self in the workplace.
These are some of the episode highlights:
“I did find myself holding back parts of myself (how I dressed and acted). I often felt the need to censor myself and be more reserved.” -Michelle Freyre
Michelle wasn’t always as confident as she is today as a leader. When she entered corporate America, she realized it was an environment with set rules and traditional standards. That it was a place where she was going to need to hide aspects of herself.
Earlier in her career, as a Latina woman in a marketing role, she picked up on a lot of nonverbal cues. She looked around and didn’t find any woman who looked like her or who would wear red lipstick and big earrings to work. On top of that, the way she spoke and communicated was also “too passionate” according to a presentation skills instructor, and that was something she became self-conscious about and led her to become reserved at work.
“Making that shift to live into my authentic self... is when my career really accelerated.” -Michelle Freyre
Thankfully, Michelle moved past the code-switching and grew in confidence as a leader, as a woman, and as a person, when she saw that there was a correlation between the big results she was delivering and being her most authentic self.
This didn’t happen overnight, though. For Michelle, this was a gradual realization that the passion she would show when presenting and speaking to others was what humanized her, helped her engage the audience, and allowed her to connect more with others.
“I want to role model being an authentic leader and create a culture where people feel safe to show up every day as their whole self because I really believe that's how you do your best work.” -Michelle Freyre
Michelle was fortunate enough to have an incredible boss, mentor, and sponsor. This man, who happened to be a white male in a corporate environment, turned out to be the representation and inspiration she needed to feel comfortable and safe enough to be her authentic self.
It might be interesting to know that someone so influential to her was a white male, but the difference with this man was that he also didn’t fit in in the corporate world. He was someone who spoke his mind, wore sneakers and jeans, was casual, and delivered big results by being himself. And because Michelle was so supported and empowered to be her authentic self while working with him, she was able to harness that inspiration to advance in her career and become that same role model for others.
Michelle believes that bringing our passions and our authentic selves to work can positively impact our careers! Listen to this episode to learn more:
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