BARBARA KIRKLAND, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO PAMELA BAXTER
This story first appeared in the May 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Twenty-one years ago a temporary assignment as executive assistant to an up-and-comer at the Estée Lauder Cos. led to a permanent relationship between Pamela Baxter, now the president and chief executive of LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics N.A. and Christian Dior Inc., and Barbara Kirkland, who’s been Baxter’s aide-de-camp ever since. “When I started, I didn’t have any idea what an sku was because I was always in investment banking,” Kirkland remembers with a chuckle. Now she knows the business—and Baxter—inside out. “I can always tell when Pamela doesn’t want to do something because of the way she rolls her eyes,” says Kirkland. “But sometimes I can be a little pushy.” Both Midwesterners (Baxter was raised in Oklahoma, Kirkland in Ohio) and the same age, the women share a bond that goes beyond the workplace. “Pamela is a very strong woman,” says Kirkland of her superstylish boss, who’s been known to navigate a snowstorm in stilettos. “But don’t let the heels fool you. I call her cowgirl. It keeps her feet on the ground.”