Aurelian Lis studied physics at Oxford, but for him, success in the beauty business isn’t rocket science. “As a brand, you need a reason to exist,” says Lis, general manager, Americas, of Benefit. “Ours is to make our customers laugh.” The success of that strategy is no joke: Industrysources report the brand, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, ended the year with global retail sales of $760 million, with North America posting 30 percent year-over- year growth to reach sales of $250 million.
Lis has an unusual background for a beauty executive: Post graduation, he worked on an offshore oil rig in Bombay, before heading to Unilever, where he worked in the foods division. He’s also an entrepreneur, having started and sold Prescribed Solutions Customized Skincare, a brand sold in doctor’s offices. A self-professed nerd who relishes combining the scale of an established business with the energy of an emerging one, Lis’ experience instilled in him a true affinity for beauty. “We all work in the cosmetics industry, which is inherently frivolous by nature, but it makes a big impact on people’s lives,” says Lis. “It is an awesome job.”
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