It’s no secret that beauty giant Coty has been suffering in recent years. They’ve encountered numerous difficulties, including high executive turnover and poor performance of brands as consumers shift towards trendier, Instagram-friendly brands.
Having embarked on their multi-year turnaround plan, they need a leader at the helm with experience aligning product and brand. A visionary leader who knows how to take a company to the next level. We think Sue Nabi could be the perfect fit.
As of the first of September, Sue Youcef Nabi became Coty’s new CEO (their sixth in four years).
Few people truly understand the beauty business like she does, her track record and list of global success stories is astonishing.
There’s no wonder her predecessor Peter Harf (who will stay on as Executive Chairman) labelled her:
“The greatest rock star in the business… a fantastic CEO, entrepreneur and a sign of inspiration to young people of what’s possible.”
Nabi’s previous roles include worldwide President at both L’Oréal and Lancôme during her twenty year tenure at L’Oréal.
When she arrived as CEO of Lancôme in 2009, she was tasked with launching a new fragrance within six months. She noted
“It ended up taking three years! But I wanted to make something that I could be proud of. We launched La Vie est Belle in 2012. Today it’s the best-selling fragrance in the world.”
(The Gentlewoman, 2019)
Instead of rushing to complete a deadline, Nabi thought strategically how to revive the brand and used time as an ally to launch the breakthrough product.
She devised a powerful core message behind the fragrance… happiness. And specifically, a woman’s right to choose happiness and free herself from convention. Nabi then signed Julia Roberts as the ambassador, whose aura, reputation and smile was the perfect match. Under her leadership, Lancôme saw double-digit growth in makeup and skincare.
Nabi was then named the youngest President in L’Oreal history and is praised for masterminding the “You’re worth it” campaign. She had cemented her position as a global beauty innovator and her positive impact on the industry earned her a spot in the Vogue 25 list in 2018.
She then set her sights on entrepreneurship and founded luxury vegan skincare line, Orveda. She focused on the void she saw in skincare - clean ingredients and looked ahead to predict what consumers would be looking for.
“Around that time, people were starting to question certain ingredients: ‘Is this good for you? What about that?’ The first guilty guy was parabens, but others followed… I decided to create a new line, but one that contained none of these guilty guys. We looked at what might become ‘guilty’ five years ahead, and we looked for alternatives.”
(The Cut, 2018)
In this latest endeavour, Nabi also led culture change initiatives including a company policy where deadlines weren’t imposed and no emails were sent after 6pm. She noted how important it was for employees to
“Have downtime and a private life, so they can take care of their children, read books, learn new things.”
(The Gentlewoman, 2019)
It’s clear that Nabi is not just capable of bringing commercial success to Coty, but improving employee wellbeing and culture.
More than that, her appointment marks an important step forward for diversity in the beauty industry. Not least because Nabi is a trans woman, but because she can be directly credited with improving diversity at L’Oréal and Lancôme.