Ask anyone at Cosmetic Executive Women who is one of the driving forces behind the organization, and CEW chairwoman Jill Scalamandre’s name will immediately come up.
However, a modest Scalamandre, who is also senior vice president of Philosophy and Coty Prestige Skin Care, deflects the praise to the CEW’s board and staff.
“The board is a great group of senior executives,” said Scalamandre, who joined CEW’s board in 1997 and became its chair in 2007. “We have 60 members who are from every facet of the industry. About 50 percent are prestige and mass beauty manufacturers, while the balance are consultants, research companies, p.r. firms and such. These are people with broad experience and valuable points of view. Many of us are competitors, but we put that aside in the boardroom to learn from each other.”
One of CEW’s more innovative practices is to have the board members arrive an hour early before the quarterly meetings to enable them to acquaint themselves with each other and the issues.
When pressed, Scalamandre noted that she believes that her broad business background is what she brings to the table for the organization. Scalamandre’s background includes a stint as chief marketing officer at Chrysallis Inc., a management arm for the private equity firm Catterton Partners. While at Chrysallis, she oversaw the StriVectin and Nia24 skin-care brands, as well as the sale of Frédéric Fekkai hair care to Procter & Gamble Co. in 2008. She has also served as senior vice president of global beauty brands at Avon Products Inc., where she oversaw an $8 billion beauty portfolio. Before joining Avon, she was managing director at Prada Beauty, where she launched the beauty division and served as managing director. She began her career at Revlon Inc. in the Eighties, and during her 16-year tenure there, she helped to launch the ColorStay and Age Defying franchises.
“My purpose is to bring another business perspective to the organization,” said Scalamandre. “I work with Carlotta [Jacobson, CEW president] and her staff to frame CEW’s strategic plan, establish metrics against our goals, to develop the organization as I would a business — and Carlotta’s team does all the heavy lifting.”
Scalamandre chronicled the organization’s steady growth. “I joined CEW in 1985, back when you still needed to be sponsored for membership and have spent three years in the beauty industry,” she reflected. “It’s been so gratifying to be part of the evolution of the organization. We have CEW branches on the West Coast as well as in the U.K. and France, so it’s become a global force. We now have more than 6,000 members, a balance of senior executives as well as midlevel and junior executives, and men. I’m proud that not only have the membership numbers grown, but retention and satisfaction rates are steadily increasing.”
In fact, Scalamandre is proud of CEW’s bold decision to allow men to join the group. “Bringing men into the organization isn’t something we decided upon lightly,” she said. “When CEW was founded, it was considered perfectly reasonable to exclude women from the ranks of industry organizations, and that’s one of the reasons why CEW came to be. However, more recently, we’d begun noticing that men comprised about half of every event we did, and it no longer felt appropriate to deny membership to them. The board’s vote was unanimous on that point. Men now comprise 12 percent of our membership, and they’ve been admitted for just two years.”
Scalamandre is also very proud of her part in leading CEW’s digital charge. “I’ve seen the engagement of members grow tremendously over the years, and the digital space is a big contributor,” said Scalamandre. “We have interactive tools, we have online mentoring, we have our beauty insider column,” said Scalamandre. “And now we’re launching CEW Connect, an interactive social hub where our members can talk to each other and network. And you’ll continue to see the organization getting more involved in the social spheres online.”
Another thing Scalamandre enjoys is advising others through CEW’s mentorship program. “You put yourself into our system with your key strengths, and mentees are able to choose mentors who can best help them,” she said. “I’ve been closely involved with the program for years now, and it’s truly rewarding to teach and to learn from the women in the program. I have such a love for learning — and no matter where you are in your career, you can always learn. I walk away from every CEW program or event with great takeaways.”