“Women in law” are women with an excellent academic background, best prepared for all kinds of different jobs. We need to be demanding and daring, willing to think out of the box and create the job that best suits us.
Besides networks, role models and mentoring, what we need most is thecourage to be authentic and follow our intuition. Only when we are in the rightjob we can achieve both success and happiness.
Alexandra Pifl graduated from law school at the University of Vienna. During her studies, she started to work as research assistant at the Institute of Roman Law and Ancient Law History. After her graduation, she completed her legal experience with a one-year’s legal training at court. With a fellowship of the Canton de Genève she studied a year abroad, at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Her focus was on international law and criminology and after her return she was appointed as research associate at the Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Vienna.
After 3 years of research, she decided to follow her original vocation to work in an international surrounding and be part of a multinational Organization or Corporation. She joined the Austrian Subsidiary of the international L’ORÉAL group, starting a career in Marketing for professional products and later consumer products. The portfolio she was responsible for amounted to € 20 Mio of sales and her responsibility included strategic planning, advertising, Media management, brand communications and talent development.
When the L’ORÉAL group launched, in partnership with UNESCO, the worldwide Program “For Women in Science”, honoring and promoting excellent women scientists, Alexandra Pifl was charged with implementing the Program in Austria. In 2001, she convinced L’ORÉAL Austria to create a new position and entrust her with Corporate Communications. Her main responsibilities were building corporate Media relations, creating tools for internal communication, implementing structures and guidelines for crisis management and finally implementing international (and creating national) CSR Partnerships. For more than 10 years she wrote and edited an internal magazine for employees, L’ORÉAL aktuell.
Since 2012, Alexandra Pifl is director Corporate Communications, Public Affairs & CSR for L’ORÉAL Austria and part of the Management Comity of the local subsidiary. Her responsibility for CSR mainly consists in implementing, promoting and developing the Group’s Sustainability Program “Sharing Beauty with All” which sets ambitious targets for sustainable innovation, production, consumption and development of employees, suppliers and communities. In addition, Alexandra Pifl promotes the Programs of the L’ORÉAL Foundation, most importantly “For Women in Science”.
For the last 4 years, Alexandra Pifl was also, as Ethics Correspondent of L’ORÉAL Austria, in charge of promoting the comprehensive (and widely recognized) Group’s Ethics Program.
In the early 90ies, Alexandra Pifl lived in the US for more than two years, following her husband to his Post Doc position at Duke University, North Carolina. She took a leave of absence from L’ORÉAL and studied American & English Literature at both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Where did you study law?
At the University of Vienna and at the University of Geneva, Switzerland
In short, please describe your career steps?
Legal Studies, academic positions at University of Vienna, court training, managementat L’ORÉAL Austria for the last 30 years (Marketing, Corporate Communications, Sustainability/CSR)
In short, what were the obstacles in your career path?
I myself. I have finally achieved what I wanted, but it took me time to find out what it was and it was a hard way to get there. Had I been even more daring, more demanding and more creative, I would have been listened to more and earlier.
Maybe I was lacking encouragement and role models, I don’t know. I definitely know that I was lacking courage to step out of predetermined career-paths.
In which position / company / institution are you currently working?
I am Director Corporate Communications, Public Affairs and CSR of L’ORÉAL Austria. In this function I am part of the Management Comity.
What is your take on work-life balance?
Work life balance is the result of self-respect. In my case, it is a daily struggle, I have a hard time drawing a clear line between the necessary commitment for doing a good job and self-destruction. However, I am convinced the struggle is not (only) due to the job, but (mostly) to my character.
What is your motivation to speak at “Women in Law”?
Passing experience and knowledge to younger people is the best thing you can do. In my career, I have experienced glass ceilings, real ones and those existing in my imagination only. Sometimes I used inappropriate tools to break through and I want to share this experience.