Our LatAm
Team showed
a lot of resilience

Interview with General Manager of PUMA Latin America Carlos Laje

August 20, 2020

Interview with General Manager of PUMA Latin America Carlos Laje

August 20, 2020

This year is exceptional in many ways: We’re facing a global pandemic, which hit Latin-America very hard. Aside from the health risks, there is also an economic impact. CATch up spoke to the General Manager of PUMA Latin America Carlos Laje about the COVID crisis as well as diversity & inclusion at PUMA.

The COVID 19 crisis has eased off a bit. Does this make you less concerned?
Not really. Latin America has been one of the regions that has been hit hardest by the pandemic and although some of our countries are slowly lifting some restrictions, we should make sure that we continue to be alert.


How do you feel PUMA has weathered the crisis so far?
Very well. These are the times when you can see the advantages of being a global company. We’ve been regularly in contact with our peers in other regions, exchanging information and best practices, while the group coordinated centrally the financial needs to keep the engine running.


What are the learnings that you have taken from the crisis?
When things are going well you must set the foundation to face the bad times. All the groundwork we did with the IT and People and Organization department is now the backbone of our new reality, including remote working, flexible working hours, etc.


What do you think we could have done better?
Had we known that this crisis was coming, we would have pushed some IT projects to be finished in 2019 already.


How do you think the employees managed the crisis? 
Extremely well. Our LatAm team showed a lot of resilience, particularly considering that Perú and Argentina are some of the countries with the longest standing lockdowns and five of our countries are in the top ten of most cases worldwide. Our team showed not only a lot of independence in order to keep up with the pace of business in these unusual circumstances, but also empathy, keeping in close contact with the rest of the Team, in particular with the ones living away from their home countries.


What is the most important part in PUMA’s work culture that helped us to get through the crisis?
Our priority was to ensure the health of our team and business, but also our people were brave enough to seize the opportunities that came up with the crisis. We opened several temporary outlets, took over real estate opportunities that very rarely appear on the market and maximized our e-com business in Chile and Brazil, greatly exceeding our 2020 plans. After managing the crisis and ensuring our business continuity, we focused on quickly capturing market share. Some of our decisions in retail and the good relationship with our wholesale partners and distributors are allowing us to emerge stronger.

A more diverse team allows for innovative ways of looking at our business, making our approach richer and more nuanced

Carlos Laje, General Manager PUMA Latin America

Although we already have a very diverse employee base at PUMA, what would you still like to see improving?
Diversity encompasses a very wide variety of aspects. While our recent survey showed that our LatAm team members overwhelmingly feel they work in a diverse and fair company, we should keep pushing ourselves to the next level. A more diverse team allows for innovative ways of looking at our business, making our approach richer and more nuanced. Our next challenge is to look for unusual sources of recruiting, helping us to bring on board people that can provide new and fresh perspectives for our business.


Are there any plans how PUMA will help achieving that, like trainings or initiatives?
We’ve been very active, encouraging the use of our existing resources like Workday and LinkedIn training courses. On the other hand, the information collected from our diversity survey pointed us in the direction of more personal interactions. Some of our team members already grouped spontaneously to make proposals based on their actual interests.


Which developments in PUMA’s company culture are you most proud of?
I’m proud of working in a company that represents my own values and interests. I am very grateful to work for a brand that pushes sports forward, encourages you to be yourself and plays fair and responsibly.

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