Luciana talks about her career path 


Luciana talks about her career path 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion , My Story, Our Voices

Luciana talks about her career path

Join hosts Funda Kalemci and James Anderson on this episode of My Story, Our Voices, an NIQ DEI podcast, as they sit down with special guest Luciana Morelli to hear her career story that is full of twists and turns.

Woman with glasses at her desk looks at her mobile phone with a laptop in front of her and a large desk lamp and coffee cup


Luciana Morelli
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Chief Diversity, Talent and Culture Officer – NielsenIQ

Luciana is the Chief Diversity, Talent, and Culture Officer at NIQ. She leads NIQ’s efforts to positively impact every aspect of the employee experience. She also takes accountability for ensuring that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion principles are embedded within our global teams, products, and decision-making. Overall, her goal is to help every NIQ employee feel a deep, rewarding sense of belonging at our company.


The views and opinions expressed in this podcast belonged to the individuals who shared them and do not necessarily represent Nielsen IQ. Note that this podcast discusses sensitive topics that may be triggering for some.  For more information specific to this episode, see the episode description. 

Laura Batien: Hi everyone and welcome to My__Story. My name is Laura Batien and if this is your first time tuning in, then let me tell you what this podcast is all about. In a nutshell, it’s about stories. Your stories. We think stories are important because when we tell them we open the door and allow others to see the experiences that shaped us, that challenged us and helped us grow. By doing this, we can create a culture where open dialogue is encouraged, and we can have a space to discuss important topics in a transparent and courageous manner. So minimize that e-mail tab, mute your chat and take a little break to listen to a NielsenIQ story.

Funda Kalemci: Hi everyone. Thank you so much for tuning into our NIQ’s My__Story DEI podcast. My name is Funda Kalemci and my pronouns are she and her and I am today joined by my co-host James. Hi James.

James Anderson: Hello Funda, how are you today?

Funda Kalemci: Doing great. How are you?

James Anderson: My name is James Anderson. I’m a Senior Analyst here in the Toronto office, and my pronouns are he and him. I’m very excited about our guest today.

Funda Kalemci: I know, right? This is a special episode as we have a very special guest today, a guest who actually will be our new co-host for this very podcast and she is Luciana Morelli or Lu, as we call her. She is our new Chief Diversity, Talent and Culture Officer at NIQ. And for this episode, I’m going to take a different approach too, and instead of giving an introduction for Lu, I’ll ask the series of rapid-fire questions so she can introduce herself. Lu, thank you so much for joining us for this introductory session. Ready for a fast start?

Luciana Morelli: Hey Funda, thanks for having me. I’m really happy to be here today and I’m really afraid of your questions lady.

Funda Kalemci: OK. There we go. Very quick answers. Where are you located? 

Luciana Morelli: Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Funda Kalemci: Have you always lived there? 

Luciana Morelli: No, we spent almost five years with my family in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Funda Kalemci: So, you said family. Do you have any kids? 

Luciana Morelli: I do. I have twins that are now 14, Lorenzo and Valentina. 

Funda Kalemci: Oh 14 you said, correct? 

Luciana Morelli: Yes, they are 14. 

Funda Kalemci: High school? 

Luciana Morelli: Not yet – entering. I think they are in the transition between being kids and teenagers. 

Funda Kalemci: Oh my goodness. 

Luciana Morelli: Dealing with the drama…double. So, fun.  

Funda Kalemci: I know the answer to my next question, but I’m gonna ask it anyway for our audience. Just to add to the drama you just mentioned, do you have any pets? 

Luciana Morelli: I do. I have a rescue dog in my house and this one gives me more trouble than my twins did when they were young. So yes, the third child is a very, very busy one. 

James Anderson: Yeah, I have a couple of questions now, Lu, I just wanted to sort of fill in some of the background, some of the other stuff to find out a little bit more about you. What is your favorite type of music? 

Luciana Morelli: Ohh. I am so eclectic, James.  You know, that depends on the moment of the year and I don’t know the season, so I change a lot. I really like Brazilian music, but sometimes I’m very rock’n’roll and then they get that vibe. Right now, I’m more on the indie vibe. So that’s what I’m hearing right now, but I know something will come with the summer and will change. So I’m not one type of a kind of music person. 

James Anderson: Does music help you unwind? How do you unwind after a stressful day? 

Luciana Morelli: Oh yes, music does help, but I do like to walk.  Now I have the dog as an excuse that I need to take the dog for a walk, but I love to go and I think, you know, TV shows Netflix of the world helps me a lot. I do like to meditate with apps. I like guided meditation and I have this very terrible behavior, if you will…which I love to go on websites and pretend I’m buying. So I put everything in my, you know, in the cart, but I never buy anything. But I do like that sport too. 

James Anderson: That is an excellent sport. It’s a dangerous one.  You’re always afraid you’re going to actually hit “buy”, right? Because those, sometimes those carts get very, very full. Now shifting gears slightly, what was your first job here with NielsenIQ? 

Luciana Morelli: My first job was with the former Nielsen. This was 2001 and I joined as a trainee. I was on the commercial side. So, I grew up in my career on the sales side. At that time, we didn’t have the separation between Sales and Customer Success. So, I was learning all the products and everything we had. And I joined through a newspaper ad. And I’m not sure if people that will hear this podcast know what that means, but that’s where I got to Nielsen. 

James Anderson: Long before LinkedIn, right? 

Luciana Morelli: Ohh no. Yeah, LinkedIn was not even in the plan. 

James Anderson: What is your favorite part of the workday? 

Luciana Morelli: I think when I meet with my team, I think that’s the best time because we can, you know, we can strategize, we can plan. But we also have fun. I really like, of course, I’m all for we need to deliver things, but I like to take my moments and have fun and laugh about each other. So, I really like that. I’m not a sad person, by no means. I like when things are seasoned with some fun. 

Funda Kalemci: Ooh, I definitely know that, and I’m glad to hear that, Lu, because that’s also one of my favorite parts of the workday. So, thank you so much for the candid answers, Lu. I’m going to take us to a different realm now. You and I both know as DI practitioners or talent coaches; we always say that a career journey is never or hardly ever a straight ladder going up. It’s a journey full of zigzags. Sometimes going up or sometimes taking a few steps down. You are now our Chief Diversity, Talent, Culture Officer, but I know that your career has been a perfect example of these zigzags. You’ve had different experiences throughout your career, some were in totally unknown business areas to you, some were in another country, as you mentioned, and some even came with a pay cut or lower pay. Thinking about that zigzag space of career journey, can you tell us? What yours was like up until this point. 

Luciana Morelli: Sure. Yes, I think it’s a good way to think about it. It was a zigzag. So I joined it as I was saying, I joined 2001 on the commercial side. So I was learning in Brazil to serve our external clients and I joined one of the big accounts. So I was learning how to do the analysis and then at the time we in Brazil, at least, we were an RMS company only. So what was here when we started launching everything when we had Scantrack. When we had Storetrack at the time, and more CPS. So I was living through all this, the product launches and learning and championing and selling and delivering. Then for a personal reason, I decided to leave Nielsen. I wanted to get pregnant. I had to go through a health situation.  So we decided, my husband and I, at the time we decided it was best if I had a different kind of job so I could dedicate myself to that situation. So I left. I left Nielsen. I stayed out of Nielsen for two years, more or less. And when I decided to go back to a more formal employment at the time. And I was running a process, I was at the very end of a job in another company, so I was going through the hiring process. I didn’t want to, well, I never thought about going back to Nielsen. When it was towards the end of this other company’s process, I got a call from Nielsen saying that they were relaunching still in Brazil. They were relaunching CI at the time. I think there was a point when we sold the business, then we acquired the business again. So they were relaunching this, early stages, but they would have a different focus. They want to only sell integrated solutions between CI and RMS or CI and CPS. And since I had the other part, I was here for all the product launches, they wanted to see if I was interested. And all my friends were Nielsen at the time, right? I kept them – maybe this was eight or nine years after I joined. And I said OK, so what’s the terms? And they said, well, it’s not the same level. If you want to go back, you need to accept the lower position, lower benefits. And your salary will be not as what you had in the past. And it was like, ohh my God. I really, I think the challenge is great. I’d like to try this, but how am I going through the emotions of accepting a lower-level job or not as much pay and how I’m going to look at my friends? That they continue to grow their careers and now I’m stuck in here, like one step back because I have now two kids.  So it was a difficult decision, and because I also had the other offer in hand and then it was like, no, maybe I’m not gonna accept that. Not because of the challenge, but because of the emotions that were attached to it. So I went to sleep on a Sunday. I had to give the final answer for the other company and to Nielsen on a Monday. And I remember going to bed, decided I’m going to take the other job. And on Monday I woke up and said, you know what? I’m going back to Nielsen. I’m going back to Nielsen because Nielsen is a company that knows who I am. I don’t need to prove anything else to them. I’m a mother with two young kids at the time and they were a year and a half. And I said I’ll need to deal with the cut in the pay and the lower-level position. And it was the best thing I did in the end. But it was not easy to take the decision or to navigate through the emotions. 

James Anderson: You know your story is resonating with me a lot because I also sort of for very different reasons also kind of went through a career change. I’m now 51, sort of in my late 40s, I was in a job in a career that I remember saying to myself – I didn’t want to retire from that role or from that job. And I wanted something else. I wanted to try something new, but I realized I did not have the skills, the qualifications really for it. So I went back to school and did all of that retraining. But it meant that I left a pretty stable, you know, a stable…I had a great place there, great pay, great benefits and I feel this is something that a lot of people think about, especially when you reach a certain point in your career or even in a certain point in age and you’ve got all kinds of things happening in your world around you. And you know, I did leave and I did go back to school. And I remember at the time thinking, what am I? Why am I giving up this security? To go out and, you know, be who knows what when you know I’m finished school and I go back. And I always joke that I reentered the work life so to speak as a 47-year-old intern because that’s basically, where I kind of started again. So I absolutely had to kind of go back down the rung a few pegs to restart in this new career, remake myself. And yet I also tried in some ways to leverage the previous life. The skills that I did have, because I did have some good skills. Especially for the kind of career we have now in this in this company. So I’m just wondering, that journey sort of deciding to go back, you know, how did you really decide to make that choice and then and also to come back and being willing to take sort of a lower rung, so to speak, career option? 

Luciana Morelli: Yeah. Thanks for sharing your story, James, it is also very, very interesting. I said, you know, I’m going to take this, but I need a plan. I need a plan because I don’t want to be in this situation, right? I know I can do more. I know I have other skills like you’re, you’re saying. So how can I transform it, right? How can I prove that I can go back to the same level as before but using other muscles. How I can be? Or maybe how can I differentiate myself enough that people will continue to invest in me? Or what would be my plan for that? So it was it was really fortunate that since I had the experience going through all our, our different offers when I was dealing with CI and BASES at the time, for me it was easy to integrate things. So when I was going to a client meeting and listening to their needs, I was not thinking about, OK, this is RMS, this is CPS. I was, very, at the time this, now it’s normal, but that back in the time was not that easy to be able to sell integrated solutions. So you go, you listen to the client needs and you come back. And you design a proposal that will sell three or four different offers. So this was the way I started to differentiate myself because I had both sides. You know, what was the core Nielsen with the survey based part of the business. So, I was doing that, I was selling big projects, I was helping other countries. Then at the time, not just Brazil, but other countries in Latin America and how to sell integrated solutions. Then I was invited to lead a training organization in Latin America just because of that. So, I started my career, my career started to grow again because I had this plan that I didn’t want to stay there, right? I wanted to continue to go back, to grow and to show who I was but at the beginning when you make a change like that, there’s something that you didn’t know because I didn’t know anything about Consumer Insights or BASES. You, you need to deal with the fact that you’re not gonna perform well for a period of time, right? Because every time you make a big turn, you will always need to learn. There is the learning curve at the beginning that even if you have the other skills, you’re not going to be performing at your best because you need to go through that. I’m not sure if you felt the same. 

James Anderson: Yeah, I was just going to say that the idea of stepping into a new role like someone invites you to do this new role, but you know that that’s not exactly the kind of work you’ve been doing before. And I don’t know about you, but I absolutely feel that, that quote – unquote “imposter syndrome” when someone is inviting me to do something new and it really is, you know, you’re jumping into the unknown and all of the, all of the fears kick in, and all of the worries kick in: “Can I really do this?” and accepting that, like you say, you, you’re gonna have to take a step back. You’re not going to be, quote – unquote, “the best in the room” 5 minutes into the job and dealing with all of those emotions as well. Was that, how did you feel about that? And you know, I’m assuming that turned out to be a success for you, taking that leap of faith into that other role. 

Luciana Morelli: It was, it was so I had, I had this imposter syndrome, but I think I felt it more when I was invited to move to HR, so that’s where was the biggest shock because then I moved to lead this commercial training organization, which was still part of commercial. At the time, we were organized differently on the geography. So North America and Latin America were the same and, and because of the nature of what I was doing, I had lots of interactions with the new leaders in North America at the time. So I started to have these new stakeholders in, around, and we I remember I was in a leadership program in Mexico talking with some of these new leaders and the person that was leading HR for Americas at the time. We were talking and he said, “hey, I have something I wanted to ask you. You were transforming the way we are selling or supposed to be selling now more integrated approach and I need to hire someone in HR to transform the way we do in HR in Brazil. Can you hire this person for me? I just need someone on the ground that can interview in the local language, but I want the same mindset. I want to transform the way you were doing on the on the selling piece, I want this to be to be the same thing in HR.” So I started to help this leader on hiring. He was, you know, giving me resumes. I was talking to people, meeting these people. But, like two weeks after, and we were in constant touch two weeks after he called me and say, “you know what? I think you should take this position. I think you should try at least for six months. You help me do the transition I need, and then we have more time to hire this person. So you come and help me for six months, in six months, you’re going back to the business because I know that’s what you like.” And it was, “what, HR?” No, I know. I mean, I know there was performance assessments once a year and maybe when you need to hire you need to interview someone, but that’s that was my knowledge on HR. It was like no, no, no, no, there’s nothing they can do that and was like, “oh my God, why”? Why is he talking to me about this? And I came home and talked to my husband and said you don’t know the craziest thing that happened to me today. And I was going through and talking to him and at the time my husband was traveling so much, he was going to India once a month. It was three days to go and three to come back and he was spending hours there and I still had my two young kids. And I was like, how come I can’t do this? You know, something that I don’t…I don’t understand legislation. I don’t even know what all HR encompasses. How am I going to do that with two kids, my husband traveling and, you know, high expectations? I said no, no, no. I don’t…first of all, I would I don’t know. I don’t think I can do it. So I’ll just say no, I’m happy where I am, I’m not going to make this change. And my husband was super supportive. Like he well, he was always -he was like no, no, no, no, you always complain you wanted something new. Why don’t you try? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’re not gonna perform? Just try to stay out of jail because you know some HR matters can put you in jail. So just try to be out of jail and if you if it doesn’t happen, you go back home. That’s, that’s the worst-case scenario and you’re gonna find another job. So that’s when I said, OK, I’ll try it. Then I came back and then I stayed, but I think this on this particular thing I went through all the emotions again. I didn’t perform as at the same place that I was before. I had the imposter syndrome, like I don’t understand I’m here. I’m leading people that know a lot more than I do. And I’m here trying not to go to jail. So, this was my first month in HR, but eventually things got back on track and, and here I am but um, the rest was very… 

Funda Kalemci: The rest is, the rest is history, right?  

Luciana Morelli: Yeah, there was, there was a switch in the middle. And now and then going back in the middle of pandemic and now leading Diversity, Talent and Culture. But yeah, there is zigzag as you said at the beginning, Funda.  

Funda Kalemci: I mean. I love this. I love listening to this story. As a follow up, I- I’m curious about one thing. The way you entered HR is basically someone trusting you to do the transformation that you were working on and on the business side, right? And then you, you got into HR and you, I’m assuming you fell in love with it because you’re still here. But what I, what I’m going to ask is, you know, what was the defining moment when you were ready to begin growing again? You came back to, back then, Nielsen, now NIQ. You came back to the company, to a totally different role with, you know, lower title, lower pay, so on and so forth and now you’re stepping into another unknown area. What was that defining moment where you said, OK, I’m here, and I’m going to go upwards from here on. 

Luciana Morelli: I think this will be different for different people. I had my moments on like this is not going to work. I’m, I’m giving up. And so I think in all this big transition moments that I had, I had this feeling like this is not going to work. I’m not going to do it. I’m not skilled enough to do this. I doubt myself, uh, cried possibly. I’m not sure if every time, but I do cry sometimes. So, I think it was the moment when I said no, no, no, no, you were better than that. It’s the moment when you move from being the victim to be – do something. And if I was to be blamed, it was because I did something. So, but sometimes I need to go to the sad moment first to stop and get up and say no, no, no, no – I’m not going to be sitting in this victim position. I’m here. So yes, I’m going to do something about it. That’s where, on the first, when I came back. And in this different part of the business, I said no. What, what, what’s different here? How can I bring my value? So I decided to do that. And when I moved to HR was the same thing. It was like…when I started to deal with HR matters, I was like I don’t know anything about this. So, I started to learn. I had not enough time and enough hours in the day to learn everything I had to learn, but then I said no, no, no, this is wrong. You cannot…This cannot be your plan. Of course you need to learn everything, but you are here because of something, so you need to start doing this “something” that brought you here. Which was the transformation. So I continued to learn. I had this very equipped team to help. But I was then starting to do what I what I was supposed to, which was transform at a time there was low hanging fruits for me and similar skills that I didn’t know. And in HR, you need to negotiate. You need to sell. You need to implement. You need to deliver analysis. You need to use data. So it started to – I moved away from that place of: why did I do and… Nothing is going to work. But ,but I always go to this place first. So if someone feels the same, you go to this dark place first and then you need to – you need to make sure, either you, you have this in yourself or you have a very close friend that can pull, pull you out of this place. 

Funda Kalemci: Ooh, I love that. And that really resonates, you know, going to that dark place is helpful for me too. Not, not for everyone possibly, but it is really helpful. One thing I want to add to that, Lu, and I’ve done this with you before, I’m talking about that the dark space to someone is helpful. It’s like a stepping stone for me at least. Thank you so much for sharing that. 

Luciana Morelli: No, thank you, Funda. Thanks for the questions and, yes, this is either, either you need to know when you can pull yourself out, or you need to have trust, a friend you trust, might be at work. Maybe you know personal network, but it’s always good to have someone helping you think about it. 

James Anderson: I also vote 100% for the dark place. I think you absolutely have to go there. You have to honor where you’re at. You can’t ignore it. You have to honor where you are so that you can eventually work through it and move from that, that, that place of personal victimization, Lu, that you talked about to, to the survivor, to the there’s a wonderful line that I heard from, um, Hollywood actor Golden Age Hollywood actress Lauren McCall once said she didn’t want to be a survivor. She said everyone’s a survivor. She wanted to persevere and come through it all. And I thought that was such a great, such a great way to say that. Lu, do you think there’s also anything, you know, this person sort of picked you out to saying you know what, you, you’re kind of already doing this role for me, why don’t you go into HR, why don’t you move on with this, and then you know all the fears and the shock and the shock and awe kind of kicks in. Um, and I sort of went through something similar when I was, I was offered a move up from, you know, analyst to senior analyst and you know, I knew what the, I knew you, because you know, HR, you kind of know sort of, you know, what you don’t know, right? If you’re, you know if you’re aware. And I thought, you know, so I kind of put the brakes on. I put the brakes on when they were asking if I wanted to move up to Senior, and apparently backstage conversations ensued, and eventually, you know, some of the team that was going to be bringing me on board as a Senior, was willing to meet with me and have a conversation about, you know, just kind of some of things you were talking about, you know, you, you bring this to the table, you might, you might not know all of this, but then you bring this to the table. And that’s so helpful. And I realized through my own process, and I don’t know if you maybe felt something similar um that at a certain point, I realized I wasn’t trusting that others see something that I don’t. And that I in a way I needed to honor what they were seeing, what they were bringing, they were offering me and not just completely shutting them down as you know, and, and therefore shutting the opportunity down. 

Luciana Morelli: Yes, and I think that happened to me more than once, too. When someone trusts me more than I trust myself. And, and I think when that happens and sometimes you don’t even realize that this is happening, you’re just saying, OK, this person is just trying to solve their problem, right? They need to hire someone and happen to be here and it’s, it’s not, but no sometimes this, this other person is trust that you can do it. They see things that you don’t. You cannot even…vocalize or put in words the kind of work you do. And so, this particular person that moves me to HR, he was like, no, that’s what I need. I, I don’t care that you don’t know HR because this will come. But what I need is the other piece that I can – I’m not able to find in the market. So I and you know the company you know ins and outs, you know our external clients I’m sure and, and the things that he wanted me to do is like you bring user experience into HR. We need to learn, not create our own things and ask the business to do it. We need to have the business embedded. So he, he was saying things that I could not see in myself so, but I trusted him. We’ve been, we were working together for quite some time and it’s someone that I trust, trusts in me more than I trust myself. So, this is something for you to look into yourself so… 

James Anderson: And to have such support, you know, and you said you, you had your, your husband was very supportive and you taking this especially this leap into the I believe the role that you’re in now. How important do you think those support systems are? 

Luciana Morelli: I think they makes total they, makes everything right? So when, when I got this, for example, when I, I was invited to move to Switzerland. This, first of all, when I was invited, I said, hey, no, no, maybe they got my wrong number. Why should I go to Swiss- me? Switzerland? No. So when we talked to my husband and he was like you were always here for me in my career. You, I had to travel. I you know, you were alone with two kids. Go, one going to the hospital every two or three days. So no, no, now it’s your time, and we’re gonna keep, you know, between the two of us, finding time for us. And, and to help each other so. And, and sometimes you have in your partner that kind of support and sometimes you’re going to have in friends and other members of the family. So this is really, really important that you have this safety network around you for those moments. Sometimes, when we were what we were talking at the beginning, like, a change in career with, with a pay cut. Not everybody can go through that every time you need to have some other support, right? Because we all have bills to pay.  

James Anderson: True. 

Luciana Morelli: So, you need to have that network to help you go through and take risks. So, I find it hard to do it myself without having that support network. 

Funda Kalemci: So many amazing nuggets there, Lu. Thank you so much. I know we can talk forever. Um, I still have quite a few questions, but the good news is that you will be a part of the podcast moving forward. 

Luciana Morelli: I’m so looking forward to that and I know I can continue to ask questions and you know, share what happened to me through this story. So, I’m really happy with this program. 

Funda Kalemci: Thank you so much, Lu. Thanks for the conversation. Thanks for the candid answers and, hey, welcome to the podcast. 

Luciana Morelli: See you in the next one. 

James Anderson: So looking forward to it, thank you, Lu, for joining us today. Your story has been truly, truly inspiring. 

Laura Batien: Hey all, it’s Laura again. We hope you enjoyed this episode of My___Story. Tune in next time to hear more stories from the NielsenIQ community. Thank you to our producer, Laura Batien. And our editor, Rachel Jilek.