Professor Stephan Kanlian provided glowing remarks about the students of FIT’s Master’s Degree Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management at a celebration marking its 10th Anniversary last month at Guastavino’s in New York City. A rapt audience of supporters, students, faculty, and alumni of the program, which was conceived and nurtured through a decade of growth at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, gathered to celebrate its educational value and collaborative curriculum.
Kanlian, chairperson, FIT Master’s Program, welcomed attendees to the celebration, referring to the program as “The Industry’s Think Tank for Beauty.” He introduced the video, A Decade of Beauty Innovation, created by Douglas Bender, class of 2007, based on extensive archival material representing the growth of the program in the past 10 years. Excerpts from William Lauder, Estée Lauder Companies, who cited the commitment of students who know what they want, Anne Gottlieb, Anne Gottlieb Associates, who referenced the mentoring program, and Pamela Baxter, CEO, LVMH, who noted that students come out of the program with a commitment to continue, told the story of the program’s value as a center for innovation and creativity, and an asset to the future of the beauty industry.
Kanlian noted the successes of the students over the course of ten years, their extensive research and preparation for their annual Capstone presentations, and the dedication and support of the numerous senior level cosmetic executives who have collaborated with students in their mentoring programs. Further, he cited the addition of two former alumni to the faculty of FIT, as well as the pairings of students who are currently collaborating with former graduates of the program.
P&G's Marc Pritchard, Allure's Linda Wells and FIT's Stephan Kanlian.
In addressing the subject of thought leadership, Kanlian said, “For the next 10 years, I want to share these thoughts. First, is the importance of citizenship for our students.” He noted that past groups mentored by Marc Pritchard, for example, learned among other things, that the role of citizenship is critical, and will help the firms these students represent become good brand citizens and emphasize humanity.
“The second concept is empathy, a concept that we pledge to look deeply into over the next 10 years. We are training empathetic leaders for a time that demands empathetic leadership. That is what is needed to bring beauty back to the center, where it needs to be,” said Kanlian.
A second video excerpt stressed the role of innovation, not only in terms of product development, but also in the students’ way of thinking.
“Capstone presentations are both impactful and impacted by the collaborative thinking of senior level beauty executives in concert with the students,” said Kanlian, indicating that the day’s honorees represented two aspects of the industry, one corporate and one media. He acknowledged that Marc Pritchard was an easy choice in picking a corporate leader, saying, “After all, he manages the largest budget in the business.”
David Greenberg, president, Maybelline/Garnier, L'Oréal USA.
Levity aside, Kanlian cited Pritchard as a true visionary who is always looking for new ways of building brands. “He has helped insure that P&G’s brands are tuned into the consumer,” noting the Tide Loads of Hope campaign, “and he has meaningfully contributed to FIT’s Master’s Program by leading panels, and faithfully supporting students’ work through Capstone and beyond. This is typical of Marc’s low-key management style. He is an authentic leader,” said Kanlian.
Pritchard said, “First of all, I love the beauty industry and the real secret that I sleep well at night is because I know the future of the beauty industry is in good hands because of the FIT Master’s Program. I am absolutely certain the industry will grow because of the fresh new ways of thinking that are coming from the FIT Master’s Program.”
Pritchard recalled when Annette Green, former president of The Fragrance Foundation, introduced him to Stephan Kanlian. “I was totally hooked, and as I have continued on with them over the next 10 years I’ve seen the program blossom; and emphasizing empathy and citizenship are important aspects of a vision that will take this industry into the next century,” said Pritchard.
“The students may have thought I was mentoring them, but I’ve come away with so many inspirations from them. I want to thank FIT for helping to encourage, inspire and help shape the future of beauty,” concluded Pritchard.
Linda Wells, Editor-in-Chief, Allure, who Kanlian credited with elevating the discourse on beauty, from an emphasis on sustainable packaging to the role of electronic media, echoed Pritchard’s sentiments.
“Beauty is going to be very big,” she said, summing up the importance of the beauty industry in her presentation. “Image is and will be everywhere,” she added, emphasizing technology’s place in the industry by referencing the iPad campaign, which so deftly portrays a young woman showing her new haircut to her boyfriend via electronic media. Clearly, everyone is touched by the immediacy. “Beauty is everywhere and the FIT Master’s Program has successfully merged beauty and brains for the future,” said Wells.
Following the honorees’ remarks, a $10,000 check was presented to carry on the work of the program, and Alumni Association representatives, Rebecca Heck, class of 2007, representing Firmenich, and Vivianna Barrera, class of 2008, representing L’Oréal USA, said it would be used to challenge and inspire the students of the future.
“Whether digital media, global markets, the aging consumer, sustainability, the future of fragrance, or leadership opportunities, the subjects studied and researched as part of the Master’s program reflect the ideas and efforts that will ultimately benefit the beauty industry for years to come,” said Kanlian, who introduced David Greenberg, president, Maybelline/Garnier, L’Oréal USA, and chairperson, Industry Advisory Board to provide closing remarks.
“The students in the FIT program are some of the most brilliant, insightful individuals, and it’s great when so many of us can sit down together in a friendly environment and share our passion for the program and the industry. This program has a very special soul and a heart,” said Greenberg. He noted that the past ten years had presented some challenges along the way, but added, “Now, 10 years later, we are back ahead of the curve and setting higher standards of education.”
He noted that Stephan Kanlian had taken on the goals of the program with abundant spirit and wit, and acknowledged that the program offers mutual benefit for both students and teachers. “In closing, it’s important to reflect on the most important part of this program. At the end of the day, the Master’s Degree Program at FIT builds know-how and confidence and builds passion for an industry that thrives on the same,” said Greenberg.