When Dumitrache Martinez joined Essity as finance director for Central America thirteen years ago, his itinerary of immediate duties was a little packed for a first day on the job.
“On day one they said, ‘We need you to move to Costa Rica to support the transformation of the organization by shutting down a factory, changing our distribution model in some countries, revamping our operations, migrating all back-office functions from Central America to Mexico, and by the way, at the end of the assignment, your role needs to disappear,’” he recalls. “That can be intimidating to anyone joining an organization—but I saw it as a challenge and opportunity to grow.”
More than a decade later, Martinez has achieved just that. In his current role as vice president of finance, Martinez oversees both finances and strategy for the Tork-branded professional hygiene business unit of Essity, a $3 billion unit of the leading global hygiene and health company that does business in 150 countries, counts roughly 47,000 employees, and brought in an estimated $13 billion in revenue in 2018. The company also makes leading brands of consumer tissue, feminine, baby and incontinence care products; and compression, wound, and orthopedic care products used in healthcare.
“As a strategist, Dumi has the ability to see around corners and plan accordingly,” explains Don Lewis, Essity’s president of professional hygiene. “From the finance side he is results-oriented with excellent execution. I value and rely on his strategic input and trust and respect his ability to drive financial performance.”
Prior to assuming his current position, Martinez was CFO for the company’s Americas business unit. Throughout his time with Essity, he has worked with the company’s business in Latin America, for the commercial businesses in North America, and supported M&A activities.
A native of Mexico, Martinez started his career with global companies that helped him gain a deep understanding of Latin American markets, which helped not only cement his knowledge of the region but also proved valuable when he landed his role with Essity. Now also working with Essity’s businesses in Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa, he’s following the same pattern in terms of learning about regions while bringing with him a strong knowledge of the North American market.
“Eventually the learning curve becomes a ramp,” he explains. “You learn the way to capture and absorb knowledge from different geographies. You learn the local markets, customs, culture—and it becomes an exercise that has some familiarity to it.”
“Eventually the learning curve becomes a ramp.”
He oversees an international team that includes fifteen directors comprising twelve different nationalities, so Martinez says the constant challenge of his job is to find ways to keep his team consistently motivated and ensure that everyone has an equal chance to bolster their talents and careers. Diversity is an important part of the makeup of Essity. “We want to become champions of equality because our culture depends on progressive thinking,” he notes. Plus, Martinez says he makes it his personal charge to make his team talented enough to succeed him.
“I think some managers might feel uncomfortable being surrounded by so much talent, but I see it as an opportunity,” he says. “A great leader not only delivers on the business front but also ensures that the human capital stays motivated and keeps developing to improve the entire organization. I would never feel threatened that someone on my team could take my job—in fact, I like to think that there are two or three members of my team that could take my job tomorrow if it was time.”
“I would never feel threatened that someone on my team could take my job—in fact, I like to think that there are two or three members of my team that could take my job tomorrow.”
That kind of drive and push for others to succeed is deeply rooted in his own family history. Martinez’s father served in the Mexican Army and as an international diplomat, and his maternal grandfather was also a general in the Mexican Army—so he notes that discipline was core to his early development. Nevertheless, several of his relatives also played basketball, and Martinez says the lessons and skills he learned on the court might be the best asset to the career he forged in the years since.
“I got a college basketball scholarship and I was able to be part of a team that became five-time national champions in Mexico,” he says. “It gives you the discipline, commitment, day-in and day-out work, and overall team spirit. Contrary to individual sports, basketball requires a lot of coordination so all the different players on the team are able to perform and deliver points every thirty seconds. Even if you don’t have the ball, you need to move and play a role to help your team score.”
Though his hardwood days have passed, Martinez today plays on a court that spans the globe and he still rolls through the game mentally—thinking several steps ahead, moving, screening, and figuring out ways for Essity to run point.
“One of the best parts of my job is coming in every day and facing a new challenge,” he explains. “It fills me with adrenaline to get the best out of me and the team. The reality is that as much as you can prepare, business dynamics change every day and we have to be on our toes, always ready for the next chapter.”