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My first boss: Anna Lundstrom, CEO of Nespresso UK&I

The people who helped shape business leaders

Over half of Anna Lundstrom's time as CEO is dedicated to people. Photo: Nespresso
Over half of Anna Lundstrom's time as CEO is dedicated to people. Photo: Nespresso

Anna Lundstrom, who first joined Nespresso (NESN.SW) in 2010 as brand PR manager, became CEO in 2022 of its UK and ROI operations, making the move from Switzerland as the company’s global chief brand officer.

Twenty years ago, I read an interview with the then head of Louis Vuitton UK, Xavier de Royère. He was talking about how he never got people from places such as the London School of Economics (LSE) applying for jobs and how he wanted to get more diversity of thought into his company.

I was studying at LSE at the time and was interviewing for different banking jobs but nothing set my heart on fire. I immediately wrote him a letter underlining my passion of pursuing a career in the industry. It taught me the power of personally reaching out to people and that it’s still very powerful.

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I was also working part-time selling shoes in one of London’s Chanel boutiques and that was where I discovered my passion for luxury goods and its marketing.

Well, Xavier invited me for an interview where I was offered an internship. At the time he was looking at a particular segment of consumers and he wanted me to work on a proposal on how to engage with them.

Having had three months' access to Xavier and how he went about his days, it left a permanent experience on me. It may be two decades this summer since I first met him but I didn’t realise the impact Xavier had on me until I started to reflect on it.

L-R: Singer Melanie Blatt, Managing Director of Louis Vuitton Xavier De Royere, and model Yasmin Le Bon attending the 2001 Louis Vuitton Classic, at the Hurlinghan Club, in London.   (Photo by Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Managing director of Louis Vuitton Xavier De Royere is flanked by singer Melanie Blatt and model Yasmin Le Bon at the Hurlinghan Club in 2001. Photo: PA (Yui Mok - PA Images via Getty Images)

It led to a permanent position as CRM manager of Louis Vuitton in the UK. Xavier, or ‘XDR’ as he was known, instilled this notion that you can be new to something but if you approach it with humility, you can share your view and take a bold approach. He also taught me how to combine and consider both sides of the notion of poetry and pragmatism in marketing, which is now quite common 20 years on.

I moved around quite a bit in the first ten years of my career, spending time at luxury houses Chanel and Gucci Group after Louis Vuitton.

I was quite impatient, hungry to learn and see more and I had this notion that risk is quite cheap when you’re young — you can move around quite freely as you’re still learning.

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Xavier had this natural elegance about him. He was discreet but firm, calm and had amazing drive. He was curious too, and I was quick to discover that there was often more value in listening over speaking and that everyone should be heard.

At Nespresso, I believe that amazing ideas can be shared at every level. I always encourage everyone to share ideas and be as creative as possible, from communications and product to operations and supply chains.

The more creative we can be, the more competitive we can become.

Paper-based compostable capsules of Nespresso coffee, part of food giant Nestle, are seen during a media opportunity in Vevey, Switzerland, November 21, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Anna Lundstrom made the move to Nespresso UK from Switzerland as the company’s global chief brand officer. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters (Denis Balibouse / reuters)

At the luxury houses, I understood the importance of investing in the long-term view of the brand. At Chanel you feel the values of the brand at every touch point; it’s something I have tried to instil at Nespresso and that teams understand the values from inside out.

Coffee is at the heart of everything we do but it’s about the whole experience. The brand is so key in terms of the overall customer and brand experience and it’s how we tell the full story and continue to innovate [Nespresso has launched B12 vitamin and ginseng coffees].

As a direct to consumer business model, we have a lot of insights. What’s great about the UK market is that consumers are outspoken on what they love and hate. We see a lot of data such as the rise of iced and cold coffees as well as the increase in decaf following COVID. It helps us to stay current.

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In the UK we have around 700 staff. You often hear about open door policies but I think you have to do something more tangible to demonstrate that. We decided to block every Tuesday afternoon out where anybody could book time with me for a chat, advice or just to share ideas.

My biggest fear is that I might miss something in the company. People choose to filter things and what you want to hear. I genuinely want to know how people are really doing. It’s in person when you look them in the eye and really know what’s going on.

Xavier used to walk around the office alot and that informality is something that I try to encourage today.

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