How I got to the top

How I got to the top: Jill Scalamandre, CEW chairperson and CMO for skin care at Coty

By Simon Pitman contact

- Last updated on GMT

How I got to the top: Jill Scalamandre, CEW chairperson and CMO for skin care at Coty

Related tags: Board of directors, Chairman

Jill Scalamandre has had an illustrious career involving some of the leading and highest profile cosmetics brands in the business, but it is probably the eleven years she has spent as chairwoman of the Cosmetics Executive Women organization that has helped boost her career profile.

That achievement by no means overshadows Scalamandre’s career path. Having started her career at Revlon in the lip and nail category during the mid-80s, she has also held top-level executive positions with fashion brand Prada, Avon Products, Chrysallis and Laura Geller, before securing her most recent position as CMO for the philosophy brand and skin care at Coty.

Cosmetics Design caught up with Scalamandre in New York to find out about the executive’s career path, including its highlights, the best decisions and the direction she wishes to take in the future.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career?

A: I would say the highlight of my career is getting to a point where I can give back to others. I’ve been in beauty my entire career and have worked in all channels, all categories, and now feel like I have a really strong foothold inside this industry. To be able to give back is very motivating to me.

Q: Is there anything you would change, or anything that in hindsight you would not have done?

A: Absolutely not, I have loved every success, and I cherish every failure.

Q:  What do you think you really got right about your career path?

I challenge myself to go into new areas. For example, after product development at Revlon I challenged myself to go into marketing for Revlon. After Revlon I challenged myself to learn the department store channel at Prada. After Prada I challenged myself to learn the direct sale global business at Avon. After Avon I challenged myself to learn how to be a small startup in the private equity world, and how to build a brand and value a brand. And now at Coty it’s really bringing all things together across multi-categories and a combination of everything from my past. I think learning and staying in beauty and diversifying my categories and channels have given me a unique perspective and lens in the category.

Q: How do you juggle such a multi-faceted career?

A: Prioritize – must have, want to have, nice to have.

Q: What part has the CEW played in your career? And how do you view your role as CEW chairwoman?

A: CEW has played a vital role. I’ve been a member for over 25 years, and chairwomen for 10. CEW has helped me build my network, my knowledge base in beauty. As chairwoman I can continue to give back and build leaders for tomorrow.

My role as CEW chairwomen is to help shape the organization and give guidance to Carlotta [Jacobson] and the team.

Q: What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt on the job?

A: Scalamandre believes that a simple four step solution has been the key to her success in this area:

  •     A good leader always listens
  •     Check your ego at the door
  •     Create a ground swell around you – you can be really smart but if you don’t have right team surrounding you, you can’t win
  •     You’re always learning. Never assume you know

Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in a career in the cosmetics industry?

A: Look outside as well as inside the industry for inspiration.

Q: Would you consider a second career in a different area? If so, what?

A: Yes, in philanthropy. It’s payback time. I’ve worked hard and I feel great about where I’ve been and where I’m going. But on many levels it’s time for me to give back.  Philosophy’s the hope & grace initiative is just the beginning.

If you feel like you have reached the top of your career and you would like to be interviewed as part of the ‘How I Got To The Top’ series, then please get in touch with us by clicking on the ‘Contact the Editor’ link, at the foot of this page.

Related topics: Business & Financial

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