By  on December 10, 2010

Pete Born first interviewed LeonardLauder back in the early Eighties, whenPete was the beauty news reporter forWWD and Leonard was the presidentof Estée Lauder Inc. Back then, thecompany had five brands and operatedoffices in about 25 countries. Today, thanks in largepart to the sweeping vision Leonard Lauder created andimplemented, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. is a globalbehemoth comprised of 28 brands with offices in 43countries. “When I first interviewed him, LeonardLauder was a young man in charge,” Born remembers.“Today, he is the father figure and seer of the industry.”

Over the years, Born has interviewed Laudernumerous times, and he’s noticed a marked differencein the executive’s demeanor. “Since then, Leonard hasgotten mellower and far more philosophical,” Bornlaughs. But no less intense. “Leonard’s rule is every timehe sits down with someone, he has to learn something,but the other side of that coin is you end up learningmuch more from him,” says Born. It is in recognition ofall that Leonard Lauder has taught and brought to thebeauty industry that WWD Beauty Biz chose to honorhim with our first Visionary Award. Today Lauderserves as chairman emeritus of the company, and thoughhe retired from active duty, so to speak, he is still verymuch involved in helping strategize its future. “I’m theCTO, the chief teaching officer,” he says. Lauder wascharacteristically open during his in-depth conversationwith Born, as you’ll read in “The Visionary.”

There is no doubt that Lauder would approve ofthe innovative thinking that we celebrate elsewhere inthe issue with the 2010 WWD Beauty Biz awards. Our editor’s choice business-to-business awards recognizethe products, strategies and companies that power theindustry forward, be it bioelectricity-based skin care ora bare-chested, smooth-talking hunk who electrifieda 72-year-old brand. Congratulations to all of the winners.

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