Tell us about your career journey:
I started my career in beauty when I was just 16. I worked at Bloomingdale’s, the department store in New York, wrapping holiday gift boxes as the Nina Ricci fragrance counter at Christmas. I fell in love with the beauty department then and there. I continued to work there “student hours”, two nights a week and on Saturdays, landing a job at the Chanel counter. I was there when Chanel introduced their makeup line, and we were all given Chanel suits to wear to work! I truly had "cosmetic fever” and wanted to be in beauty for the rest of my career. After studying French and going to university in Paris for two years, I wanted to work for a French beauty company when returning to NY. I landed a secretarial job at a Estée Lauder, which I thought was a French company! (it was the accent over the Estée)!! I stayed for 39 years, eventually founding several brands in the corporate portfolio, most notably Origins, one of the first prestige “green”, “clean” brands in the industry, and establishing several departments, including Global Innovation and ELC Ventures. Post retirement, I am still passionate about beauty and am proud to sit on the board of Alpha-H.
What are you most proud of in your career?
From a professional perspective, I’m most proud of having co-founded and led Origins. It created a new category in the industry that disrupted many of the old norms; all meant to provide a greater respect for the consumer; her intelligence, her skin, her pocketbook, as well as respect for the environment and for animals. It started the green beauty movement of the early 90s and was the precursor to the clean beauty movement of today. And the brand is still relevant and thriving.
From a personal perspective, I’m most proud of having mentored and helped team members and colleagues to grow their careers, both within ELC and without.
Biggest challenge in your career?
Probably my biggest challenge was juggling career and motherhood. My job required somewhat frequent, lengthy travel, sometimes two weeks at a time. I was often plagued with guilt and questioned myself as to whether I was doing the right thing. In hindsight, I truly feel that I was a strong role model for my family. I was lucky to have a very supportive husband and great childcare.
What role did other supportive women play in your career progression?
As the Estée Lauder Companies was founded by a woman, it attracted other strong women, even at a time when female executives were few and far between, even in the beauty industry. So, when I arrived there, a few brilliant women were in key roles at the company. I had exemplary role models and several mentors who recognized something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They took me under their wing and helped me navigate the company, always providing advice and support. And sometimes tough love.
How has gender equality in the workplace changed over time?
As I said above, working at a female founded company made it somewhat easier for the women there. However, at the beginning of my career there were just a few women in top roles. That has changed significantly at ELC and across the beauty industry, with many more women in C-suite jobs. There’s also a huge number of women who are starting their own beauty brands, they are the founders and CEOs. This is wonderful to see.
Which Alpha value resonates with you most and why?
(Awareness, Authenticity, Adaptability, Attitude, Ask, A-Team)
While all these values are important and critical to a successful career, Authenticity resonates the most for me. Authenticity of passion, of commitment, of beliefs in what you are doing are critical to success and fulfillment. But the A -word that I feel is most important is Alignment. Being Aligned with your job and the company you work for, feeling Aligned with its values, commitments and actions, makes a job seem less like a job and more like a personal mission that makes you happy to partake in each day. Being Aligned makes you feel proud to be with the company and provides a great balance that brings happiness and fulfillment.
What more could you ask for?