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CEW at 65: Connecting With Chairwoman Jill Scalamandre

For CEW chairwoman Jill Scalamandre, learning from executives both established and emerging drives her continued involvement with the organization.

Jill Scalamandre’s responsibilities as chairwoman of CEW include moderating the biannual Newsmaker series, during which she has interviewed some of beauty’s top chief executives, including L’Oréal’s Jean-Paul Agon, Fabrizio Freda of the Estée Lauder Cos. and Mary Dillon of Ulta Beauty Inc.

But for all of the upper level access the position affords, it’s the connection and learning from all levels of CEW’s membership that drives Scalamandre’s continued passion for the organization —and her immense dedication to it.

“I have been a member of CEW for practically my entire career,” said Scalamandre, who over the past 25 years or so has risen from junior executive at Revlon to her current position as president of BareMinerals and Shiseido’s global makeup line. “This is where I came to learn, network and be exposed to leaders,” she continued. “This is still true today. I see CEW as a facilitator of sharing knowledge and providing industry exposure.”

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She paused, then emphasized again the importance of networking when it comes to career management. “You have to lift yourself out of your daily grind and reach out, either through an organization like CEW or own your own,” Scalamandre said. “You have to take the initiative. Life doesn’t come to those who wait.”

Scalamandre views her role of chairwoman as a sounding board for the organization, someone who is able to share a “boots on the ground” perspective of how the beauty industry is evolving and the steps CEW needs to take to keep pace and maintain its relevance, particularly in terms of the resources women can tap into to help navigate the corporate ladder. “I oversee the high-level strategic mission of the organization,” she said. “I see myself as their champion and providing guidance in terms of building the organization for the future.”

One key change during Scalamandre’s tenure has been the evolution of women in business. She herself is part of a wave of women who have reached the upper echelons of management, particularly in terms of running global brands. While women are still largely underrepresented in the c-suites of many large beauty companies, there are a large number who have achieved significant executive level roles. “We still have a few ceilings to crack,” Scalamandre said. “It’s coming and it’s growing, but it’s not an overnight switch.”

She believes that change happens generationally, noting that hers was the first generation to have a full-time career and family. “The next generation won’t even question the fact that they can have a family and a career and be a ceo,” she mused. “It’s about allowing women to dream those goals and achieve them.”

That’s why the CEW Achiever Awards is Scalamandre’s favorite event of the many the organization produces. “It’s the only event in our industry that honors and recognizes women,” she said. “To hear someone’s story of how they navigated their career is fascinating and inspiring to me.”

She also loves probing the executives whom she interviews for CEW’s Newsmaker Series, which features beauty’s top leaders, and her easy-going demeanor combined with her deep knowledge of the business has resulted in some memorable moments. “Having people show us their business side as well as their personal leadership style has been incredible,” said Scalamandre.

Most recently, she interviewed L’Oréal’s ceo Jean-Paul Agon in a wide-ranging interview that touched on everything from sustainability to developing a digital skill set. (When Scalamandre asked if he could pass a digital test L’Oréal gives to new employees, the ceo laughed and said, “I will not give you my results. I’m still working to improve!)

Such candor is characteristic of her subjects.  Asked to name some standout moments, Scalamandre elaborates: “The charm of Fabrizio Freda, the focus of Mary Dillon,” she said. “William Lauder was so open and honest about growing up in a family with such a storied legacy and what he brings to the table. Jean-Paul Agon was very open and honest. I was surprised at how willing he was to talk.”

While she’s mum on whom she’ll be interviewing in 2019, she did share her dream ‘gets.’ “Jeff Bezos!” she said,  naming the ceo of Amazon. “I want to know how he looks at our industry. What is his long-term vision for beauty across channel and brands? I would love to know where he sees beauty going.”

Rihanna is on her list, too. “Fenty has made such an impact,” said Scalamandre. “I’d love to hear her point of view and discover where she sees beauty 10 years from now.”

Asking such questions is characteristic of Scalamandre, who credits her success in business to an innate drive to keep learning. “I’m very curious as a person. I’m always thinking about what’s next,” she said. “This is how I work, whether it’s with a brand or CEW.”

She describes herself as a “dreamer and a driver,” noting success is based on the ability to execute. “I have a will,” she said. “Don’t just say you’re going to do it — do it.”

While curiosity about the future has fueled her career trajectory, it’s a focus on the task at hand that has enabled her to juggle so many roles — and the help of a great team. “Surrounding yourself with the right people is critical,” she said.

This is as true at CEW as at Shiseido, Scalamandre said, and a key reason the organization has been able to adapt so readily to a beauty industry that is changing so quickly. “They are smart women who want to bring positive change to the industry and the organization, and have contributed so much to the success of CEW,” said Scalamandre. “I began my career as a recipient of the networking and learning, and now I can pay it forward — mentoring and being part of all of the events. I love it, because I learn something new every time I go.”


If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what industry would you choose? 

Fashion. It’s another transformative category and a personal passion.


What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Gel Tint…it’s actually the leading prestige tinted moisturizer.


Top three fave Instagram accounts:

• Michelle Obama: @michelleobama

• Condé Nast Traveler: @cntraveler

• Net-a-porter: @netaporter


What do you do to relax?

It’s hard for me to shut down, so I need to find things to occupy my mind. Travel when I have a little more time, movies for a quick escape.


Airplane mode: Sleep or work?

Both…Tokyo is a 14-hour flight!