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CEW at 65: Power Board

Insight and advice from beauty's most successful female executives.

CEW’s Board of Governors reads like a who’s who of successful women from all facets of the beauty industry. The 70-strong group meets quarterly. On the agenda: Everything from the financial health of the organization to insights on what strategic imperatives CEW should prioritize to best serve members. And, of course, a healthy dose of networking. WWD invited the board members to participate in a photo shoot in New York, and asked them to share an insider’s perspective on success — and how CEW has inspired them to rise through the ranks of beauty.

My advice to my younger self would be to stay true to yourself.  Keep an open mind to change and listen to those you trust to advise you. — Terry Darland, Dior

I would tell my younger self to not worry so much; everything happens for a reason. — Tiffany Masterson, Drunk Elephant

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The traits that have enabled me to succeed? Passion, resilience, the ability to inspire and lead change, plus a mixture of creativity and problem solving/analytical thinking from my engineering training. — Esi Eggleston-Bracey, Unilever

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I would tell my younger self to be who you are and say what you feel. — Vennette Ho, Financo

My most memorable CEW moment was being on the stage when Mr. [Leonard] Lauder received his lifetime achievement award. It was shortly after I joined the board and the first time I was invited to sit on the dais. I was so excited to be seated with the “big girls” and even more honored to be in such close proximity to a legend at that unforgettable moment. — Carrie Mellage, Kline

Stay curious. Be brave enough to have a voice, share a point of view — no matter how intimidating or uncomfortable it may be at first — and question ideas or methods that you don’t believe in or think you can improve. Brilliant things happen when people aren’t afraid to speak up, share ideas and take a chance. — Artemis Patrick, Sephora

Use your common sense as much as possible — common sense is not common. Don’t second-guess yourself. — Diane Crecca, Arcade Beauty

Stay true to your values and it will all work out. — Victoria Tsai, Tatcha

Always ask for the job you want. — Lauren Newman, Meredith

Don’t expect the road to be straight; the best opportunities come from the detours. — Liz Kaplow, Kaplow Communications

The riskiest thing is to take no risk.  — Karin Tracy, Facebook

Be tenacious for all the right reasons and never compromise your dreams. — Lori Monaco, The NPD Group

Regrets are never about failures, but about things you wanted to do and never did. — JuE Wong, Moroccanoil

Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence, have passion for what you do and never forget the human connection! — Karen Fondu, L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth

Courage, commitment, decisiveness, curiosity and empathy have enabled me to reach the top. — Alex Keith, Procter & Gamble

Always take on new challenges — even if you’re unsure that you are completely ready. Raise your hand, take risks and don’t fear failure. — Sarah Willersdorf, BCG

Embrace vulnerability. Lead with confidence, smile often and enjoy the ride. — Lisa Marie Ringus, 24 Seven

When the National Retail Federation honored me on its list of People Shaping Retail’s Future in 2017, without telling me the CEW Board ran a congratulatory ad in the NRF journal, I was so touched that I was recognized by my CEW peers. It said a lot about the generosity and support of our beauty community and the women in it. — Wendy Liebmann, WSL Strategic Retail

My most memorable CEW moment was sitting in the CEW board meeting when my name was announced as a CEW Achiever Award recipient. I was so surprised that it took a minute for it to register! I was truly moved — had tears in my eyes. This is tied with actually receiving the award. — Kelly Vanasse, P&G

Focus, persistence and never taking “no” for an answer are key. “No” simply means that you need to figure out another way to get it done. — Marina Maher, MMC

Do not fear failure; as painful as it may be, it only makes you better and stronger. Build resilience; it’s the most important trait whether it’s life or work. — Leela Petrakis

I love that each CEW event offers perspective on an emerging trend, innovation or just gives you the opportunity to network with so many industry experts. The value of the organization is incredible for networking and forming relationships. — Nata Dvir, Macy’s

The first Cancer + Careers event in 2001 coincided with my first year at RPG. To realize from the beginning that the industry cared as much about inner beauty and philanthropy as it does outer beauty made me feel like it was a place that I could belong. As a young professional, I struggled with launching a career that was meaningful and financially successful at the same time. Realizing that I didn’t have to make a choice was an incredible lasting memory. — Ellen Friedman, RPG

My most memorable CEW moment was receiving the CEW Achiever Award. I was completely shocked when Carlotta called to share the news. To be nominated by my peers and the leaders of the industry was such an incredible honor. The day of the luncheon was surreal. I was surrounded by family, friends, loved ones and my past and present work family who mean so much to me. It was truly one of my most special days ever. — Lori Singer, Coty Inc.

Find terrific people for your teams and have a high bar for all you do together. Add to this the determination and optimism that anything is possible if you believe in it. Optimism is infectious and then as everyone starts to believe, the team becomes unstoppable. — Mary Fox, Bic North America

Advice I would give to my younger self is to ask anyone I admired to mentor me. I was lucky enough to have terrific mentors in my career and they were generally my bosses or co-workers. I would leave it less to chance and good fortune and seek advice from those I admired and respected. — Heidi Manheimer, Surratt Beauty

Be bolder, more daring, take risks! — Veronique Ferval, Symrise, Inc.

The three most important qualities are to lead with humility, to always be curious and to learn from those around you. — Sandra Main, The Estée Lauder Cos.

The power of CEW’s network is amazing. But the most memorable moment would have to be the very first time I was asked to sit at the dais on stage, thinking to myself that I made it, sitting next to women I respect in the industry. Now, I hope to do the same and inspire the future of our industry. — Isabel Lopes, IFF

When Carlotta became the president, she opened a tiny office on the top floor in a sliver of a building on the Upper East Side. Room was so tight there were boxes of files piled high in the bathtub. We were working on financial reports. The detailed pages were so long we could only review if they were taped end to end and had to lay them on the floor and get on our hands and knees to read them! It was just like a start-up without the ramen noodles! Carlotta has driven CEW to an extraordinary level of success. We have an enormous membership, global reach and financial accomplishments that were beyond imagining in those early days. — Barbara Kotlikoff, The Butler’s Closet

Before each board meeting begins, spending the half hour chatting with fellow board members has been a delight. I have a deep respect for all the incredibly accomplished and wonderful women on the board and I always leave the conversations feeling inspired and strengthened by the women who paved the way. — Alicia Yoon, Peach + Lily

Change, although unsettling at times, is such a positive. Embracing it will enrich your life immeasurably. — Cora Mae Rood, president, RPR

At last year’s CEW Achiever Awards, I was struck by the enormity of the event and how 1,000-plus people, mostly competitors, come together to support each other and a select group of deserving leaders and pioneers. It’s also great to see how the makeup of the audience and honorees reflects shifts in the industry landscape over the last decade. — Kelly McPhilliamy, Harris Williams

Sometimes life does not go according to plan, however the detours along the way are where you will grow the most. — Shannon M. Curtin

Be yourself, always. Seek feedback to enable yourself to develop, learn and grow but don’t let other people’s opinions overpower what makes you, you! Instead, use the feedback to become your best self. — Lauren Brindley, Walgreens

My desire to build partnerships and foster lasting relationships has been key to my success. This is core to who I am as a person, a leader and a business partner. The ability to be decisive, nimble and quick has also been vital. — Tara Simon, Ulta Beauty

Think big, dream big, zero limit to what can be done. — Danyelle Boilard-Paul, Clarins Groupe USA

First, pick and develop a hobby — it will be a positive distraction from work and a source for motivation. Secondly, work on building a diverse network and maintain connections as it will help you with a diverse viewpoint. — Vaishnaovi Rastogi, Amazon

Appreciate what makes you different and flaunt it. — Maly Bernstein, CVS

I felt so awed and fortunate to attend my first Achiever Awards in the early days. The winners were so generous with their stories. Sponsoring the CEW Beauty Awards for years with Allure was a great highlight — and sitting next to Mario Cantone was the icing on that cake. His Beauty Awards song is stamped on my brain for eternity. — Linda Wells, Revlon

You get to choose the destination and design the game to get there. You can invent your own reality. — Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox

I have never and still don’t take no for an answer. (By the way, this drives my kids insane!) — Nancy Berger, Hearst

I would tell my younger self to really “lean in” and speak up when I had a definite idea or opinion. Often, women execs are the only females in the room. We must be prepared and then we must speak up and stand up for ourselves. — Janet Gurwitch, Castanea

Many years ago — 2009, I think — I was SVP of global marketing for the Estée Lauder brand. We won five CEW Product awards that year, and I had the chance to go to the stage at the Waldorf five times to accept the awards. They were all programs that my team and I had worked on, so it was an incredibly exciting and personally fulfilling experience to have those projects recognized. — Elana Drell-Szyfer, RéVive Skincare

Embrace your dimensions of difference and own them courageously. Be curious about others and demonstrate vulnerability earlier in life and you’ll be surprised by how others will respond to you. — Christina Hennington, Target

Spend as much time as possible networking and building relationships. The beauty industry is comprised of incredible entrepreneurs and leaders who support each other and want to see others succeed. Take advantage of these mentors and learn as much as possible from them. These relationships will play one of the biggest roles in your success. — Ellen Lennon, QVC

Work hard, be ambitious, achieve results. Set short-term and long-term career goals. Be flexible; don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. — Gemma Lionello, Nordstrom

Don’t assume that you know what aspect of the business will ignite your passion. You might be pleasantly surprised that you end up in an area that you never would have dreamed. — Susan Akkad, the Estée Lauder Cos.

I would advise my younger self that team is everything and so much of success and happiness is who you choose to surround yourself by every day. — Ashley Miles, Refinery29 Inc.

Your career is not a race to the finish line, but a journey with many twists and turns. The objective is to work with people who will inspire you, teach you and fill your business tool box with experiences that prepare you take on greater responsibility. As a working mother, my advice is don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s never a choice when it comes to priorities. Family always comes first. — Leslie Marino, Redken


The following board members were unavailable to participate:

Joy Atkinson, Firmenich

Madonna Badger, Badger and Winters

Christine Barton, The Boston Consulting Group

Laurie Dowley, Perfect Corp.

Anastasia Economos, Ernst & Young LLP

Jennifer Goldfarb, Ipsy

Leslie Marino, L’Oréal USA

Kathleen Croddick Molyneaux, Suite K

Catherine Wells, Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC