Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Natura &Co was already trading on Brazil’s Novo Mercado when it opened its first Parisian boutique in 2005, but only in 2013 did Natura &Co go truly global with the acquisition of cult Australian brand Aesop. Continuing to expand its global ambitions, Natura &Co later purchased the Body Shop, which firmly established its presence in the UK. Then in 2020, shortly after having started trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Natura &Co added Avon to its portfolio and established customers in more than one hundred countries.
As Natura &Co commenced its dual listing in Brazil and the US and continued its growth trajectory, the company needed a veteran finance trailblazer capable of motivating diverse teams and leading cross-border transactions in a more complex regulatory environment. They found that leader in Alexandre França.
França was born and raised in Brazil with significant exposure to American culture. He speaks fluent Portuguese, English, and Spanish. He has led complex accounting deals on three continents and has worked in senior leadership roles for a Big Four accounting firm as well as for the world’s largest company.
The Avon acquisition was finalized in January 2020 and turned Natura &Co the world’s fourth largest pure-play beauty group with four iconic purpose-driven brands that serve over 200 million consumers. The group has almost 4,000 retail stores, 40,000 employees, and close to $10 billion in gross revenue. França joined as vice president, chief accounting officer, and global controller just months after the Avon deal to manage the global controllership function and help guide business strategy.
In many ways, it was a role for which França had been preparing his whole life. He was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, and while França loves his homeland, he was determined to visit the United States to learn English. He got that chance as a sophomore in high school when he found an exchange program that sent him to South Carolina.
Although he spoke no English when he arrived, everyone soon knew his name. That’s because França quickly made the school’s varsity soccer team. He made friends, learned the language, and fell in love with the culture. The semester ended, and França returned home knowing he would eventually be back.
While pursuing his finance degree, França started at Ernst & Young’s Brazilian headquarters in the audit practice. Any time the firm needed someone to be involved with US-based clients or have knowledge of US accounting rules, he volunteered.
“I was drawn to the US because of its more mature capital markets, and I saw it as a path to career development and future opportunities with large global companies,” he says, adding that he was looking to make a permanent move. By 2008, he had mastered accounting rules and financial reporting requirements in both countries, and the firm moved him to Houston, where he served large public companies before transferring to Boca Raton to work with clients in South Florida.
In 2013, França seized the opportunity to work for Walmart, the king of American business and the largest employer in the world. He moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where he was responsible for complex global accounting processes. França started a family along the way, and after five years, they moved to Mexico so he could serve on a controllership leadership role in Walmart’s largest international market.
The vast global experience and financial leadership made França a perfect candidate for Natura &Co. “I was excited to join this company because it has a clear vision and wants to move forward in a very purposeful way that I know my skills can support,” he says. Natura &Co’s leaders have been vocal about their intent to use their scale and influence to address issues like climate change, drive diversity and inclusion, and support local communities.
In his role, França leads the transformation of the controllership function to ensure it supports the company’s strategy. He’s also building an accounting and finance function suitable for the “new” Natura &Co, which is now a public company in the US and in Brazil.
“The controllership function needs to be a key partner to the business and be able to spend more time analyzing the data than booking journal entries and manually inputting information,” França says.
He’s working to increase automation to transform and streamline what has been a manual department, and to capture the synergies of a global organization. He’s moved his family from Mexico City to London and continues to settle in while working on several exciting initiatives for the company.
França has worked with other leaders to recruit and hire talented finance professionals who are stationed in Brazil, London, and other key offices. He uses his background and experience to cast vision, unite people from different cultures, set goals, and deliver results.
Natura &Co shows no signs of slowing down, and with França and his team in place, the cosmetics giant is ready to continue its evolution to create the best beauty group for the world.
We at KPMG believe that talent, a holistic view of business and the ability to combine experience and courage to innovate are essential aspects of a successful and truly transformative career. Congratulations on your career path and professional achievements, Alexandre França! —KPMG in Brazil