Leonard A. Lauder, chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies, will receive the “Retail Excellence Award” for his outstanding contributions to the retail and beauty sectors, along with his philanthropic endeavors in academia, medicine and art.
The award is being given by the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Retail Leaders Circle. Lauder will receive the award at an Oct. 16 dinner in his honor to be held at the Rainbow Room in New York City.
“Leonard Lauder’s remarkable influence and achievements in the industry are matched only by his generosity as a philanthropist,” Thomas S. Robertson, Joshua J. Harris professor and professor of marketing at the Wharton School, said in a statement. “His business acumen, global vision and innovative ideas are legendary.”
Lauder is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and has provided philanthropic support for various Penn programs throughout the years, impacting campus life as well as the research and teaching missions for faculty and students. He also holds various positions at Penn, including emeritus trustee, and is a founding member of the board of governors at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies.
“As we celebrate excellence in retail, Leonard Lauder stands out as an industry visionary whose legacy and leadership have profoundly shaped both the beauty and broader retail landscapes,” said Panos Linardos, chairman of the Retail Leaders Circle. “Mr. Lauder’s unparalleled impact aligns with the core values of the Retail Leaders Circle, and his lasting achievements underscore the profound influence that legendary leadership can have in shaping the trajectory of the retail industry.”
Lauder is also cofounder of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, which provides funding for clinical trials on a global scale. He had also contributed to New York’s Whitney Museum and he has pledged his renowned collection of Cubist art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The award is timely given Lauder’s announcement last August that he would step down from the board of directors of the Estée Lauder Cos. in November this year, when his current term expires, as previously reported. Lauder, who turned 90 this year, will retain the title of chairman emeritus of the firm, which was founded by his parents, Estée and Joseph Lauder, in 1946. He will also continue his role as “chief teacher officer,” and be involved in key initiatives around employee engagement and brand symposiums.
“You’ll still see me out and about, and perhaps at your desk, your retail store or at a company event,” Lauder wrote in an internal memo to company employees.
Lauder’s career spanned many decades at the helm of The Estée Lauder Companies, which he joined in 1958. During his tenure, he initiated the establishment of the company’s first R&D laboratory and spearheaded strategic acquisitions that included renowned brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Aveda. He stepped down as CEO in 1999.
The Jay H. Baker Retailing Center is an interdisciplinary industry research center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The center influences research and encourages discussion on trending retail topics through programs and resources with faculty, students and industry leaders.
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school to educate future business leaders. Wharton has 235 professors and 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA and doctoral students.
Retail Leaders Circle, powered by the New York Institute of Management, promotes discussion and debate on retailing between CEOs, industry innovators and influencers who convene at different locations in the U.S., Middle East and Asia.