By  on August 9, 2013

On a beautiful Thursday evening in late June, 72 of the rising stars of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. are seated at two long banquet tables in Bryn Mawr College’s baronial Great Hall, celebrating the successful completion of the company’s Semper Novus executive-development program. The wine is flowing and the mood is celebratory, the wrought-iron chandeliers above casting a warm glow on the scene. In the center sits Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive officer of the company, chatting animatedly with his dinner companions who include a handful of strategic “outside partners” invited to participate in the week-long program, including this year executives from Isetan in Japan, Sephora Latin America and Ulta.

Suddenly, the Gothic majesty of the room is shattered with the sounds of pop diva Christina Aguilera singing “Feel This Moment.”

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