Jean-Paul Agon has spent his entire career at L’Oréal, joining the company as a 24-year-old product manager straight out of the elite HEC Paris business school and rising steadily through the ranks. But as chief executive officer of the world’s largest beauty company for the past nine years, Agon has shown that he is a resolute leader oriented firmly toward the future—not the past.

First he created an audacious goal—to add one billion new faces to L’Oréal’s customer base—then he strategized an equally bold plan to fulfill it. He was one of the first to recognize the potential in rapidly emerging markets in Asia and Africa, and understood early on, as well, the importance of developing a deep understanding of diverse cultures and rituals in order to better develop products suited to their inhabitants. Agon has also shown himself to be an early adopter in the digital revolution, be it immersing himself in the culture of Silicon Valley or acquiring brands, like NYX, that are at the forefront of using social media to create unassailable consumer connections.

As such, Agon was the clear choice when it came to naming WWD Beauty Inc’s Visionary of the Year for 2015. In what has shaped up to be one of the most transformational years in the history of the beauty industry, a year that saw the establishment of the digital elite and the emergence of the new Indies, Agon has shown that a large company is capable of leading in times of intense change. And as you’ll read in “Man in Motion” on page 42, he is far from finished.

Doubtless Agon is familiar with most of the winners of the WWD Beauty Inc Awards this year. They are an eclectic group representing both established brands and recent additions, but what they have in common is an unwavering emphasis on innovation, be it in product development, consumer experience, digital communications or retail execution. As always, our awards are editors’ choice honors; to select our winners, we consulted retailers, industry analysts and our own news coverage throughout the year to compile a roster that we believe had the most significant impact on the beauty industry in 2015 and beyond. On behalf of everyone at WWD Beauty Inc, I’d like to congratulate Agon and all of this year’s winners. You are an inspiration.

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