The Legacy of a Leader

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | August 11, 2006

Going global isn’t a suggestion, it’s a mandate. Every company, regardless of its size, must look beyond its borders to find growth in this increasingly complex world. For 17 years, we’ve brought you The International Top 30, a look at the leading companies in the household and personal products industry with corporate headquarters outside the U.S. Together with The Top 50, it provides a comprehensive report of the movers and shakers in our industry. Over the years, The International Top 30 has undergone tremendous changes with names like SmithKline Beecham, Joh. A Benckiser, Reckitt & Colman, Wella and many others getting acquired, merging or exiting the business. Many changes indeed, but through it all, one thing remained constant—Lindsay Owen-Jones was leading L’Oréal to the top of the global beauty industry. Since 1990, L’Oréal’s sales have grown from $7 billion to more than $18 billion as Mr. Owen-Jones built a company that became the envy of personal care companies around the world. Earlier this year, O.J. stepped down as CEO of L’Oréal, passing the baton to Jean-Paul Agon. Though his accomplishments were many and his business acumen deep, three of his guidelines regarding people and the workplace stand out. One, he never asked a subordinate to do something he hadn’t already done himself during his lengthy career. Two, after all the research is done and a leader is confronted with an unknown future, “the final decision has to be based on intutition. That is what all the great innovators—Charles Revson, Estée Lauder and Yves Saint Laurent—have in common,” he told Happi back in 1989. That statement is nearly 20 years old, but it still holds true today. Finally, at a leadership conference held in Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago, O.J. told the audience that to be successful in business, one must love what he or she does for a living. A Welshman with real joie de vivre. You don’t get more globalized than that!

Besides The International Top 30, this edition of Happi.com includes our annual preview of Fall color cosmetics collections. It’s written by Lindsay Elkins, our new associate editor. A Rutgers University graduate, Lindsay was most recently with Edgell Communications, where she served as assistant editor on Hospitality Technology. The site also includes a look at the growing baby care market written by Ava Caridad.

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