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How Shiseido’s Gail Boyé Thinks About Mentorship

The Shiseido executive outlined her philosophy on harboring talent within her team.

Beauty Inc: After the events of last year with so many women exiting the workforce and the inequity of the landscape, what are actions that you’re taking to make sure women thrive in your environment?

Gail Boyé: It’s a big challenge, but I am a big proponent of mentoring. I personally was very fortunate in my early years to be mentored by incredible people, and it’s translated throughout my career journey. Even to this day, I still rely on the advice of my mentors that I’ve had for so many years when making big decisions. 

I’ve had a lot of really in-depth conversations about the constant uncertainty we’ve all gone through and experiences, and with both men and women, I’m really proud to work for an organization that has so many initiatives that really do support and empower women. For instance, there’s ‘She-seido,’ that connects employees with female senior leaders through many different avenues like networking opportunities and focuses on inspiring young women. That’s one where women can really grow their personal and professional lives by sharing experiences.

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Beauty Inc: Throughout your career, what’s been most effective for you in making sure your voice has been heard?

G.B.: I’m lucky because I’ve never really found myself to have this challenge, but I certainly have an understanding for those that do. A lot of people that I’ve mentored have expressed this quandary. I am a big believer in being myself and not overthinking a situation. In any organization, the role of communication is key. That is definite, but for me, it’s about a healthy dose of active listening, empathy, timing is also important and remaining flexible. Those are keys to being an effective communicator. It allows me to work across a wide section of functional teams, so one minute, I can talk to an accomplished chemist, and the next, I’m talking to a CEO or a brand president.

Beauty Inc: The last 18 months have brought so much change — what has been the biggest impact in how you approach your business?

G.B.: Product development is an extremely tactile discipline. Imagine how challenging it’s been for us to carry on as business as usual the last several months, there’s been a rethinking of logistics in order to properly receive and evaluate products in a timely manner to keep these numerous projects on track and on schedule.

We’ve learned to be extremely creative, and my team is always working on how we’re going to get logistics done and if we’re going to meet each other on New York City street corners to hand off a product or mail it. We’ve had to be very creative to keep the ball rolling. Also, the way we ideate product has been turned. We shifted our thinking on what the launch calendar is going to look like, because we might put our focus on different categories. Now, we might think about alternative product capabilities, such as if we should make makeup more long-wearing because of mask wearing. With skin care, how do we bring the spa experience alive at home. The way we are logistically doing business has been rethought, and it’s forcing us to think differently.

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