Balancing the Grind with Jean-Marc Dragoli, Business Executive Officer – General Manager Oceania at Nestlé Nespresso SA

Jean-Marc Dragoli is the Business Executive Officer – General Manager Oceania at Nestlé Nespresso SA, responsible for leading the brand in one of the company’s key markets.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have spent more than 20 years at Nestlé around the world, in Mexico, the Middle East, Spain, Brazil. 

I arrived in Australia in 2019 – and love working here. Since 2007, I’ve been in leadership roles and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work across such a diverse range of countries and cultures.

As General Manager for Oceania, I’m responsible for leading Nespresso in one of the company’s key markets with a strong coffee culture.  That makes my role challenging and exciting – we have to be at the top of our game and ensure we are offering customers the world’s best coffee experience.  

A big part of that for me is sustainability and I’m really proud of what we are doing in Australia and globally in this area as we work to meet our commitment of being fully carbon neutral by 2022.

2) What does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

A normal day for me starts at around 6am, helping my wife prepare breakfast and lunch for our daughters. My first coffee for the day is at home, at around 7:00am, before leaving for work.

By 8:00am, I am looking at my day and going through emails, tasks for the day and news. From 9am until 5pm, I am generally in meetings with various teams across the business.

From 5pm to 7pm I keep working at the office and have calls with our corporate office in Switzerland, after which I head home.

During the day, I take a coffee break every hour or so – coffee is of course ingrained into our office and our daily schedules.  It provides moments through the day to reflect and recharge.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?   

My role as a leader is flexible and I believe the future of this role will need to stay flexible. However, I feel most inspired when I am socially engaged and collaborating with my colleagues.

At Nespresso, we’re putting a new focus on making the workplace less structured and more inspiring, a place where people come together to connect and nourish their wellbeing so that work doesn’t just “fit” into life, but becomes a positive part of it.

Having balance is key. Hours and hours alone behind a screen can be really frustrating and isolating, particularly when some of the biggest ideas and brightest innovations occur in those non-work moments – quick catch ups in the hallway or conversations over a cup of coffee.

From a personal perspective, I like to work in the office as I enjoy seeing my team in person for collaborative working and socialising.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Expectations around work-life balance are evolving. We’ve recently commissioned new research for Nespresso Professional on the Workplace of the Future 2021 that reveals just this.

98% of Aussies surveyed say regular and rewarding breaks throughout their workday provide a positive contribution to their overall health and happiness. Being at Nespresso, coffee breaks are in our blood – and we always encourage employees to take the time to catch up with a colleague and switch off from work, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

To support this, over three quarters (77%) of Australian employees believe their morning coffee break is important to their relationship with co-workers and workplace culture. For me, this might be through taking consistent breaks, mitigating excessive workloads or monitoring technology usage to feel more balanced in work and life.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I started new sporting activities with my kids and close friends, creating moments where I can connect with the people I love but also moments to unplug from work.  Disconnecting is so important and, I think, helps me be more effective in work and away from it.

I love going for daily walks – and taking the dogs out helps get me out even in the worst weather!  It provides time for reflection and time to let the mind wander.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

In line with the Workplace of the Future project, I’ve been listening to Dr. Amantha Imber’s podcast, How I Work. As an organisational psychologist, she has some fascinating insights around how to improve productivity and speaks to entrepreneurs on the daily rituals and tactics that are key to their success in the workplace.

I also listen regularly to some news podcasts from Europe, which help me to remain connected to what is happening across the world. I am very interested in current affairs and am currently reading the latest book from Barack Obama, A Promised Land.

7) Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

I’ve been giving the Nespresso Momento Coffee & Milk machine a workout each morning – and you could even say it’s a product, gadget and app all in one!

It’s our latest coffee innovation with touchless technology that makes your favourite cafe-quality milky coffees from lattes to flat whites, by simply scanning a QR code on your phone. It’s pretty impressive!

Additionally, I probably couldn’t live anymore without my iPad/iPhone. My favourite apps are connected to my relaxing moments (Spotify for music and podcasts, Netflix for watching TV series and WhatsApp to connect with my friends around the world)

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

I would love to read about Elon Musk. I find his vision of the future quite interesting and I am amazed at how he handles so many disruptive/innovative projects. I’d also love to hear about Thomas Pesquet, who is a French aerospace engineer, pilot, and European Space Agency astronaut currently sending beautiful pictures to Earth from space.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

We are living in a moment of disruption which could lead to some amazing opportunities. I believe that employers should be fluid in their approach to workforce management and in creating workplaces for their employees as we continue to explore a changing world. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.