Notes from... Tracey Travis

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Notes from... Tracey Travis

Company Feature

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are featuring a series of first-person essays from female leaders from The Estée Lauder Companies who share their perspectives on a range of topics primarily relating to women and the workplace.

As we celebrate the powerful women who have worked tirelessly to shape this Company over the past 70 years, a few themes stand out for me: perseverance, passion, courage and resilience. These themes have also resonated strongly throughout my own career culminating in my current role as the CFO at The Estée Lauder Companies.

My career has been a somewhat non-traditional and incredibly rewarding professional journey. From my early days at General Motors as an engineer to assuming senior financial and general management roles across multiple sectors, I’ve had the opportunity to both experience and contribute to a broad variety of business areas. And a few things have remained constant: my thirst for continued self-development and my commitment to developing talent, including supporting and empowering women and minorities to achieve their full potential in their careers.

There is no guaranteed magic formula for a successful career. For me, I have always believed in embracing challenging opportunities while looking for meaningful ways to connect the dots. I’ve learned to build upon the skills achieved from one experience and apply them to the next. 

My earliest example of this started after my junior year in high school in Rochester, NY. As a strong math and science student, I was recruited by Eastman Kodak Company to be a summer intern in their computer science department. I ended up working for Kodak every summer until I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. The training I received interning as a computer programmer – defining business problems and breaking them down into their finest components in order to be able to program the solution – was instrumental in how I’ve approached problem solving in all my other roles. At The Estée Lauder Companies we also provide wonderful opportunities for interns to build valuable skills they will hopefully be able to use in their future careers as I was able to.  

My technical roots in STEM, combined with my MBA in finance and management, have meaningfully impacted how I approach leadership roles to make a difference and drive positive outcomes: whether designing statistical process control charts for manufacturing high-quality auto parts, managing a production and distribution center to be a top performer, or acquiring much of the overseas licensed business for an apparel company to make them a stronger global competitor.

And I am incredibly proud to now be a part of a successful company that was founded by an inspirational woman, Mrs. Estée Lauder, who saw it as her mission to empower every woman to reach her full potential.  She recognized how powerful women could be if they had a little extra encouragement and self-confidence — what a wonderful legacy and vision we all have to build on.

 

Don't be afraid to fail. If you don't take risks and try, you'll never be able to reach your full potential.

I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have had a strong support system — family, close friends, mentors and sponsors — encouraging, guiding and advocating for me through many career choices and business matters. And one of the many things I enjoy about my role today is having the opportunity to nurture and develop young talent. The employee resource groups at our Company provide expanded opportunities for many leaders to contribute to the mentorship of our talent.

I seek to mentor or sponsor individuals who are proactive, smart, and truly have a passion for life-long learning. It’s important to note that mentorship is a two-way partnership, with benefits and responsibilities on both ends. I’m frequently teaching, and acting on, advice from one of my own early career mentors: Don’t be afraid to fail. If you never take risks, you may never be able to reach your full potential. Always prepare well, and self-reflect to extract valuable lessons from your mistakes but don't dwell on them – move on!

Having mentors and sponsors does not end when you reach the “C suite.” I remain grateful to my personal “board of directors” — made up of individuals from many different aspects of my life whose objective and candid guidance I treasure — to provide important grounding and insight in a variety of different areas for me. Listening and learning will always be central to how I continue to evolve, and contributing to the success of others will always be a part of what fulfills me professionally.

Read more about Tracey Travis in her Executive Leadership profile.

 

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The Estée Lauder Companies' Notes from... Tracey Travis

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