An Interview with John Kooyman, VP at Colgate-Palmolive

As John Kooyman sat down for his interview, he exhibited a smile with perfectly white teeth, which is quite understandable as he is the VP of Marketing in North America for Colgate-Palmolive. As someone who has served as an executive of Colgate-Palmolive for over 25 years in many different countries, Kooyman’s career path has been anything but dull.

Coming from a family whose father travelled extensively for international business, Kooyman was consistently exposed to different workplace cultures and environments. Once he began working for Colgate-Palmolive immediately out of business school in 1994, Kooyman has not looked back. His business acumen has taught him how to operate within changing cultures and push initiatives to galvanize his employees. In particular, Kooyman’s skills positioned him for a path towards success as he dealt with clients from the Middle East, Russia, Africa, Latin America, and other places all over the world.

As part of a 212-year-old company that has been well-recognized in innumerable countries for over 100 years, Kooyman feels fortunate that a portion of the marketing for Colgate-Palmolive products is self-facilitated since the products sell themselves, in a sense. Nevertheless, this takes nothing away from his ability to seamlessly implement changes between countries with different tastes. Whether it was his work as GM over Colgate-Palmolive in the Benelux countries, VP Marketing for the African and Eurasian division, or his current status as VP of Marketing North America, Kooyman has catered towards various demographics with unique tastes to help Colgate-Palmolive reach the recognition it has today. For instance, his flawless execution of Colgate-Palmolive Total’s journey to the public market in the 90’s became one of his proudest moments working within the company.

Kooyman, when asked about advice he would provide to young students or businessmen, remarked on how “it is critical to have a sense of who you are and what you want to do. Some people who are obliged by debt may feel pigeonholed into choosing companies that pay well but have contrasting morals and ethics.” He urges students to actively search for what they want out of life and to never settle for anything less than the perfect balance.