The Growth of Executive Leadership

Dec 5, 2019 | Women's Wear Daily

Industry experts share insights on the changing face of the executive c-suite.

As companies continue to take a proactive approach to hiring practices, filling the c-suite has triggered change.

One recent report even found that the fashion industry has looked to beauty executives as the fashion executive of tomorrow, seeing fresh perspectives and an aptitude for understanding consumer demand for a wide audience. And while it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the demand for ideal candidates, experts said the competitive talent market has redefined requirements.

Annabel Norman, an associate partner at DHR International, said the beauty industry has had great success with new executive leaders “in building high-performing brands and diverse organizations.”

Of the demand for leadership, Norman said, “these executives need to have a balance of intelligence quotient, emotional quotient and an unprecedented reputation for success in growing highly functional, successful and diverse organizations. The right blend of technical and cultural fit is paramount in our assessment of executive leaders and we found that both of the executives that we brought to our searches for Kate Somerville and Luxury Brand Partners were a strong cultural fit for these organizations.”

She also noted that over the past year organizations like @EsteeLaundry has “shed incredible light on the beauty industry’s leadership.” And through this sharing of information, transparency has been built to continue to “educate and shape the future landscape and leadership of beauty.”

Further, Brent Magnusson, partner at Egon Zehnder, said the new face of executive leadership “is one who can set a consumer vision and recruit the right talent to execute the strategy with speed. They must be curious, comfortable with making mistakes and redirecting the team when required.” And importantly, Magnusson said, “they must be capable of motivating a range of diverse team members.”

In response, DHR International’s Tricia Logan, a managing partner at the firm who focuses on retail and fashion, said today’s “executive leadership needs to drive innovation throughout the organization and in all functions.”

Logan said talent firms must keep pace with changes digitally and culturally, too, saying executives must be, “digitally savvy, customer-centric brand leaders who embrace a culture of inclusivity and a willingness to surround themselves with functional experts is the new paradigm.”

According to Sue Lamoreaux, managing director in the fashion and beauty practice at Solomon Page, chief executive officers are also now coming from nontraditional sources and “a growing percentage of these top executives are female.” While Lamoreaux said, most of these leaders hold advanced degrees from prestigious schools and have trained within a digitally native brand, “every search has its own unique set of requirements.”