With apologies to Aristotle, Deb Henretta abhors the status quo the way nature abhors a vacuum. For Henretta, leaders are change agents, and she has assumed the helm of Procter & Gamble’s global beauty business ready to make a difference. Now. Her task is daunting: to restore the luster to the aforementioned business, which suffered a 4 percent decline in sales in fiscal 2012. A veteran P&G exec who last served as head of the Asia region, Henretta has wasted no time in making her presence felt, whether redeploying management or readying global product launches. The results thus far are promising—earnings from P&G’s beauty business in the second fiscal quarter rose 9 percent, while sales inched up 1 percent. Still, as Henretta makes clear in “The Drive to Thrive,” she is just getting started.
“I believe in being very decisive,” was one of Henretta’s most memorable quotes, for both Pete Born, WWD’s executive editor of beauty, and me. That sentiment struck both of us with its forthright directness. Not only does it describe Henretta’s self-professed management style, but it also embodies the new generation of leadership that has arisen in the beauty industry in the last five years. Whether Jean-Paul Agon at L’Oréal, Fabrizio Freda at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc or Henretta herself, the people leading beauty’s biggest companies all have very strong (and very different) strategic visions for the future. See also E. Scott Beattie of Elizabeth Arden and Chuck Rubin of Ulta. As a result, they have not only positioned their companies for what’s coming, but shaped the direction that the entire industry is moving.
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