The Estée Lauder Companies’ chief Fabrizio Freda sat down with noted Burberry exec (and Lauder board member) Rose Marie Bravo at the 21 Club on Tuesday, July 10. The “rare and provocative” exchange was part of Fashion Group International’s (FGI) Tastemaker Series, said the organization’s president, Margaret Hayes.
The Estée Lauder Companies’ Fabrizio Freda, FGI’s Margaret Hayes and Rose Marie Bravo.
Topics ranged from evolving Lauder’s business model—sharing knowledge across its formerly distinct brands—to the importance of family values in the development of authentic launches and long term success stories.
Rather than stressing self-improvement, Freda said, he aims to leverage different executives’ strengths in the way a winning sports team might.
Freda took Lauder’s reigns at the height of the economic crisis in 2008, which, he said, forced him to look at the business with a deeper perspective and faster reflexes.
Looking ahead, Freda emphasized the importance of what the company terms its “compass”—or an awareness about its ultimate goals for the distant future. “You cannot define the future based on the past anymore,” he said, “because things change so fast nowadays.”
Freda also emphasized the importance of diversity as a driver of creativity—being “a company of women, founded by a woman.” Two-thirds of Lauder’s worldwide consumers are not Caucasian, Freda said, with Russian consumers being the largest purchasers of mascara, Indian women dominating the lipstick market and foundation being the category of choice for consumers in Japan.
Perfecting the work-life balance is all about energy management, Freda said—and separation. “I don’t mix the two,” he explained. “When I’m at work, I’m at work, and when I’m with my family, I’m with my family.”
The Estée Lauder Companies stresses these very values at a leadership course at Vassar College—where Bravo and Freda coincidentally met for the first time, she joked, in the dorms, in their pajamas.
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