Experience key to cosmetics career success

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

Gaining as much experience as possible across all business disciplines is the key to success in today's highly competitive beauty and personal care industry, according to Pamela Baxter, the keynote speaker at HBA Global Expo in New York.

Baxter, president and chief executive officer, LVMH perfumes and cosmetics for North America, used her keynote address to highlight the importance of new starters taking control of their own professional development and career path.

Drawing on more than 30 year's experience in the luxury cosmetic, skin care and fragrance industries, Baxter said: "Developing cross functional capacity is an important way of preparing for a successful career. Make sure you get experience in as many areas of the business as possible including: Sales, marketing, finance and public relations."

Potential employers

In addition to gaining wide industry knowledge, it will demonstrate flexibility to potential employers. Flexibility is also an important attribute in helping people to learn lessons along their career path.

"I've launched a lot of fragrances and some of them have been stellar and some of them not. But I always learned a lot more from the failures than the successes,"​ said Baxter. So, be prepared to take risks with your career and business decisions, she added.

In addition to industry knowledge and flexibility, Baxter added the third ingredient of passion to her personal recipe for career success in the cosmetics industry. "The beauty industry is one of the most passionate and emotional of industries. If you bring some passion it will be noticed. If you don't have passion for the business, you need to find another career​."

For managers in the cosmetics industry, Baxter recommended a light touch which avoided the temptation to over-direct people. "Find the best people who are smarter than you and who have skills which complement your own​," said Baxter. "Then let them go​ (and do the job). I don't like to micro-manage; leadership should be indirect."​ When managers refer problems to Baxter, her response is to ask them to suggest three of their own solutions and to recommend one.

Office politics

Finally Baxter highlighted the importance of mentoring in helping to transfer key business skills and experience between generations. "If you don't have a mentor, I suggest you find one to bounce ideas off. Someone you can turn to when the office politics get too tense and who can help you find a way out."

For experienced managers, mentoring younger colleagues was a way of giving something back to the industry, suggested Baxter.

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