Female empowerment was the overarching theme at this year’s CEW Achiever Awards luncheon.
Held at the Waldorf Astoria this Friday, the luncheon recognized seven women executives and their achievements in the beauty industry. Alex Keith, president of global skin and personal care at Procter & Gamble Co., started the luncheon off with a keynote address on lessons she learned working in the industry. “Take smart risks, identify the worst-case scenario and mitigate it,” she said. “Being deliberate about risks, but not scared of them is required to be courageous in business.”
Carlotta Jacobson, CEW president, and Frédéric Rozé, president and ceo of L’Oréal USA, started the awards ceremony by presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Karen Fondu, president of L’Oréal Paris USA. “She has always had what it takes to succeed in business: passion, charisma, empathy, generosity and a great warrior spirit,” Rozé said. “With every role that she took on she always stretched and pushed herself. She made everything she touched better, bigger and stronger.”
When accepting her award, Fondu reflected on her time at L’Oréal and the impressive growth the brand has had since she joined more than 30 years ago. “It’s quite stunning and emotional for me as I reflect on the many successes and incredible milestones achieved throughout these many years,” she said. “To have had the privilege and good fortune of [being] a part of L’Oréal’s explosive growth makes me extremely proud and very humbled.”
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The next Achiever Award went to Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and chief executive officer of Birchbox. Beauchamp talked about her path to the industry and developing her love for beauty during a college internship at Estée Lauder. “The Lauders and their executives showed me that it was possible to have a job where work was something that challenged you in the right way and that fed you intellectually and emotionally,” she said. “I’ve always truly believed [Birchbox] was reimagining the way people would buy beauty online, just ask the people who I cold e-mailed six years ago. It’s exactly what I promised.”
To present the next award, Leonard A. Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., took the stage to honor Beth DiNardo, global brand president of Smashbox Cosmetics. “She’s alone, which is good news. For those of you that know what it’s like to work in a company where everyone has an opinion,” he joked. “You’re all laughing, but I’m crying!”
DiNardo then took the stage to accept her award, reflecting on the risks she took during her career including taking on her role at Smashbox. “I was way outside my comfort zone,” she said. “On a big brand when you take a risk it’s a big choice. I found on these small brands, taking a risk was the only choice.”
The next award presented was the Great Idea for Fragrance award, which was presented to Rachel Field, cofounder and vice president of discovery at Vapor Communications. Fields was being honored for developing a digital scent technology at her company. “I went to engineering school with six women, so to be able to enter this space is just so amazing to me,” she said on being a part of CEW. “To find the audience for the work that we’re doing means the world to me.”
Michelle Freyre, president of U.S. beauty at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., was the next honoree. She reflected on how supportive CEW and Johnson & Johnson have been to her and other women in the industry. “I feel humbled to be honored by CEW today, but more than that I feel a great responsibility to pay it forward,” she said. “Especially for multicultural and Hispanic women like myself who grew up in very different cultures, these women must have role models they can identify with.”
Sarah Hibberson, senior vice president of human resources at L’Oréal USA, was next to take the stage, talking about how her children have played a part in her career. “I’m so grateful that they’ve seen how being true to yourself, doing something that you really love, making a difference in people’s lives and surrounding yourself with talented people leads to success,” she said.
In partnership with the American Association of University Women, Unilever was honored with the first Women’s Empowerment Award. Tamara Rogers, executive vice president of personal care at Unilever USA accepted the award on behalf of the company. “Empowering women is absolutely a part of [Unilever’s] mission,” she said. “We know in fact that by empowering women and lifting them up, we lift whole communities in a sustainable way.”
The last award was given to Marla Malcolm Beck, ceo and cofounder of Bluemercury Inc. While accepting her award, Beck talked about how her family has shaped her career. “We have a favorite quote in the Beck family: if it is both terrifying and amazing you should definitely pursue it,” she said. “It’s been a terrifying and amazing journey over the past 17 years in this glorious industry. I look forward to continuing the journey.”