If Plato’s utopian city-state Kallipolis ever becomes a reality, Yoshiharu Fukuhara is a shoo-in to become its philosopher king. One of the most successful chief executive officers in the history of beauty, he is also one of its most modest. Largely responsible for transforming Shiseido, the company founded by his grandfather 140 years ago, from a Japanese beauty concern into a global conglomerate, Fukuhara remains a humanist at heart, the antithesis of the hard-driving executive. Yet his achievements are legendary, impacting not only his company but the entire industry: Fukuhara was an early champion of creativity, giving collaborators such as Serge Lutens and Chantal Roos the artistic and business freedoms to execute their visions. He brought Shiseido to Europe and the U.S., and was an early pioneer in China, creating relationships there in the Seventies that have blossomed into an enormous business today. And he was a leader who understood the importance of development and collaboration at a time when authoritarian figureheads were most often found in the corner office.
This story first appeared in the December 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
If those achievements sound like the fundamental tenets of success today, it’s because they are. Fukuhara paved the way that others have followed, and we are delighted to honor him with the WWD Beauty Inc Visionary of the Year award. For a fascinating look into Fukuhara’s analysis of the beauty industry, turn to “The Zen Master of Beauty.”
Doubtless, Fukuhara would appreciate the achievements of this year’s WWD Beauty Inc Award winners. In a standout year for beauty overall, they represent the best of the best. As always, our editor’s choice business-to-business awards recognize the brands, products, people and retailers that powered our industry forward this year. On behalf of everyone here, I’d like to wish congratulations to all of this year’s winners.