By  on August 8, 2014

Masahiko Uotani may be Japanese by birth, but when it comes to business, he’s as direct as a native New Yorker. Ask Uotani, who became chief executive officer and president of Shiseido on April 1, his assessment of the company, and he doesn’t beat around the bush. “We’re not growing as we wanted. We’re the number-one cosmetics company in Japan,” he says, “but compared to our aspiration to be more competitive in a global market, no one is satisfied with where we are.” Such straight talk encapsulates Uotani’s leadership style, honed during his days at Columbia University, where he earned his master’s degree in business administration. There, he quickly realized that unless he pointedly schooled himself in how to engage in the vigorous debates that were a staple of classroom life in New York City but antithetical to the Japanese style of communicating, he would flounder. He did learn, and it’s just that sense of engagement and empowerment that Uotani is harnessing to bring metamorphic change to Shiseido. Meet beauty’s newest ceo in “The World According to Uotani” on page 26.

Shiseido is number five on this year’s Beauty’s Top 100, WWD Beauty Inc’s annual ranking of the world’s largest cosmetics manufacturers, edited by European beauty editor Jennifer Weil. Those who have been involved with the beauty industry for any period of time won’t be surprised when they read who occupies the top spots. But what may be eye opening is how big the biggest firms are—number-one L’Oréal, the French beauty giant, had sales of more than $30 billion, comprising 15 percent of the total market. Unilever, Procter & Gamble Co., and The Estée Lauder Cos., numbers two, three and four respectively, also posted massive figures, with Lauder surpassing the $10 billion mark for the first time in its history. Taken collectively, 2013 was mostly a positive year, with total revenues reaching $204.61 billion. Find out who’s on top—and who’s not—starting on page 35.

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