‘The beauty in­dus­try is al­ways on the move’

China Daily (USA) - - HONG KONG - BySOPHIEHE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

For the Es­tee Lauder Com­pa­nies’ Asia-Pa­cific re­gion pres­i­dent Fabrice We­ber, his up­bring­ing and ca­reer in the cos­met­ics in­dus­try has brought him all over the globe.

He was born in Paris to a French mother and a Ger­man fa­ther, but grew up in Spain un­til he was 15, be­fore his fam­ily lived in Bel­gium, Ger­many and Eng­land.

We­ber stud­ied in­ter­na­tional af­fairs and mar­ket­ing in col­lege, and grad­u­ated from the Hautes Etudes Com­mer­ciales busi­ness school in Paris, France.

His path into the cos­met­ics in­dus­try came af­ter col­lege, with French com­pany L’Oreal re­cruit­ing him for an in­tern­ship in Canada.

We­ber then went on to work for a decade at L’Oreal in Aus­tria, Hong Kong and other places. He be­came gen­eral man­ager for L’Oreal’s lux­ury divi­sion, Par­fums Beaute, in its Malaysian and Sin­ga­pore af­fil­i­ates from 1993 to 1996.

He then changed com­pany as the gen­eral man­ager of Chanel’s South­east Asia re­gion from 1996 un­til 1999, be­fore We­ber was named the gen­eral man­ager of Chanel’s Beauty divi­sion in Ja­pan — a po­si­tion he held un­til 2001.

In March 2001, We­ber joined Es­tee Lauder in New York and spent six years in the US in two roles. He was then asked to come back to Hong Kong as the pres­i­dent of the com­pany’s Asia-Pa­cific re­gion in Jan­uary 2007.

“I love the city (Hong Kong), my wife is from Sin­ga­pore but the first time we met was in Hong Kong — she also adores Hong Kong and we have two boys who also love Hong Kong.”

From a lead­er­ship per­spec­tive, We­ber says he is a firm be­liever in be­ing gen­uine.

“We should never for­get who we are. My per­sonal phi­los­o­phy would be to not lose your­self, to al­ways be au­then­tic to your peers, your bosses, your clients and part­ners.”

He also be­lieves in em­pow­er­ing peo­ple and trust­ing peo­ple, as at­tempt­ing to con­trol ev­ery­thing means you Fabrice We­ber,

We should never for­get who we are. My per­sonal phi­los­o­phy would be to not lose your­self, to al­ways be au­then­tic to your peers, your bosses, your clients and part­ners.” the Es­tee Lauder Com­pa­nies’ Asia-Pa­cific re­gion pres­i­dent

will lose your com­pet­i­tive­ness, “so you need to let go”, he says.

“You have to take risks and they may not work in the end, but the rule is ‘we fail fast but we fail cheap’, so I let my peo­ple try and if it goes wrong some­times, then I will be OK with it.”

We­ber says he doesn’t want his em­ploy­ees to feel that they are in­tim­i­dated and hopes that he can make his col­leagues feel com­fort­able.

“I want to let them know that they have my trust even when things are not that fan­tas­tic.”

He en­joys a high-en­ergy work­ing en­vi­ron­ment — one that the beauty in­dus­try can bring, along with be­ing com­pet­i­tive. We­ber says the in­dus­try is al­ways on the move and al­ways chang­ing as “there is new brand com­ing out ev­ery five min­utes”.

The in­dus­try has a low en­try bar­rier, with bud­ding en­trepreneurs able to kick start a new brand with min­i­mal costs, We­ber ex­plains. The in­dus­try has seen many com­pa­nies that started four years ago and are al­ready do­ing large busi­ness.

“If you are a young per­son and not sure whether you should go into the beauty in­dus­try, I would say go there. It is a great in­dus­try, it is very dy­namic, and if you like speed, if you like change, if you like chal­leng­ing your­self, this is it.”

The in­dus­try makes peo­ple happy as it beau­ti­fies them, which makes the sec­tor unique, We­ber says.

ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY

The power of celebri­ties and in­flu­encers is al­ter­ing the way Es­tee Lauder is mar­ket­ing, as en­dorse­ments from celebri­ties on so­cial me­dia is play­ing a cru­cial role in spread­ing the word, says its re­gion pres­i­dent Fabrice We­ber. He ex­plains that the beauty gi­ant has in­tro­duced a dig­i­tal-first the­ory in its mar­ket­ing op­er­a­tions to adapt to the ever-chang­ing land­scape of cos­met­ics and skin-care in­dus­try.

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