‘The beauty industry is always on the move’
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.
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.