For Sarah Curtis Henry, chief commercial officer of Parfums Christian Dior, creating a career path to lead to this point has been about both depth in breadth.
“I started in marketing, and I’ve had a balance of different brands at different stages,” Curtis Henry said. “I’ve worked across almost every category in beauty, I’ve had domestic and global roles, and I’ve gone from the brand side, to operations and, now, commercial roles. It’s made me more effective, it’s allowed me to bridge functions, markets and cultures and to think in a much more holistic and strategic way.”
At Dior, that strategic mind-set includes combining the brand’s rich history with the high-tech, high-touch experience today’s luxury consumers expect. “I have been laser-focused on the hustle and hard work of really driving results, and part of that is trying to find innovative ways and breaking new ground,” she said. “I’m really willing to step outside of my comfort zone. When it comes to taking on projects or roles or taking on challenges, I love to be uncomfortable, and I thrive under pressure.”
Curtis Henry noted that the brand’s storied legacy has a “deep connection with today’s luxury consumer,” but maintaining that connection also requires near-constant attention. “We’re strengthening our brand across every touchpoint, from the brand side to retail, from our direct site to our wholesalers. We’re focused on strengthening our brand equity, and the desirability and relevance of our brand, and we’re doing this through a multiplatform digital strategy. At the core of that is storytelling, driving awareness and conversion through that omnichannel growth, all of that driving an even deeper connection to our strong couture heritage,” she said.
Staying on top of industry trends is another part of Curtis Henry’s approach. As for where beauty’s headed? “Beauty will continue to surprise us, whether it’s new brands, emerging categories, emerging and disruptive ways to bringing brands to life on digital,” she said, “but we have a lot more work to do when it comes to reflecting the global diversity of our consumers and the voices within our industry. A lot of progress has been made, but we have a lot further to go. Unlocking this from the retail arena, to the creative arena to the boardroom, will fuel more disruptive innovation and stronger relevance for brands, and certainly accelerate growth globally.”
Curtis Henry credited several industry players for her own rise, including Charlotte Holman Ros, president of Dior North America; Holman Ros’ predecessor Terry Darland; Vicky Tsai, founder of Tatcha, and Jean-Marc Plisson, chief executive officer of Kosas. She’s also hoping to pay it forward.
“We have an organization at LVMH, it’s called EllesVMH, and it’s a program that promotes gender equity by encouraging the professional development of women at all positions,” she said. “We have this amazing pool of talent, so providing growth opportunities for ambitious women is essential for us driving growth, and to face the challenges of today’s luxury consumer.”
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