From the Alumni Magazine: Cosmetic Cause

Pamela Davis (IMC05) never thought makeup would become such a central part of her life. Nor did she know that cosmetics could ultimately improve the lives of uneducated Latin American women, but as digital strategy director for Belcorp, she is seeing it happen firsthand.Belcorp is the third-largest direct sales company in Latin America and sells three brands of beauty products in 16 countries. The company employs 800,000 women as beauty reps, many of whom did not finish high school and would have limited access to other jobs.

“All of these women who sell our products learn so much from what they have to sell,” Davis says. “It’s [great] being able to put a grain of sand in the progress of so many women and so many families.”

When Davis came to Medill from her hometown of Lima, Peru, she had a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Universidad de Lima. She also had four years of marketing experience and knew she wanted to go deeper into the field. 

She chose to focus on direct, database and e-commerce marketing at Medill, and planned to start her own business after graduation.

But then she heard about Belcorp, signed on, and quickly rose through the ranks. Davis went from being a portfolio manager to becoming head of the digital strategy team on Aug. 1, 2011. 

Though her background seems to fit perfectly with her newest digital role, obstacles still arise, particularly given the complex socioeconomic issues present in Latin American culture.

“Definitely [Latin America has] taken much longer to embrace the Internet, even though we’re catching up,” she says. “The poorer people will not have access. The penetration is not as high as in the U.S.”

One part of Davis’ job involves “making sure digital truly becomes a priority in Belcorp,” which goes against some of the more traditional marketing mentality still prevalent in Latin America.

“In the last year, there has been a lot of changing in Latin America [and] a lot of skills that [we] have had to develop,” Davis says.

In her newest role, she hopes to use customer demographic information and shopping history to help beauty reps up-sell and cross-sell products, as well as discover the best offers for their clients. She also wants to help give them a greater level of comfort using the Internet and hopefully allow it to become a tool for progress in their own lives, in the same way that Davis’ education allowed her to progress in her own career.

“What IMC gave me is the curiosity, the spark, the deep part of being consumer-centric,” she says. “Those concepts don’t change. The way you communicate them may change in time, but the philosophy behind it is the one that prevails.

“The essence of the IMC program is still what I use every day.”

— Elizabeth Diffin is a freelance writer and the assistant editor of Chicago Parent magazine. She lives in the Chicago suburbs.