Leading Global Marketing at Estee Lauder

George Benaroya
5 min readJan 25, 2021


Ms. Georgia Garinois-Melenikiotou, Executive Vice President, Corporate Marketing, at Estée Lauder, discusses digital transformation, influencers, and global marketing during this NYU fireside chat. She also shared examples of how Johnson & Johnson supports women’s global careers, reflecting on her prior role as President of the Beauty Global Business Unit. Below is a summary of her response to each question and a link to the full response on YouTube.

Covid was the best Digital Transformation Officer

“The best Digital Officer was Covid. We achieved in three months the same quantity of transformation that we had achieved in 12 years. As a company, as well as the world.”

Are premium brands going digital?

“Twenty-five years ago, e-commerce was considered relevant for mass-market brands. Not for premium brands. Estee Lauder went ahead with it. Today, we realize it was a strategic move that made Estee Lauder successful.

Digital is an enabler. Married with a physical channel, they provide a much better experience for consumers. They complement each other. Digital allowed Estee Lauder to give access to its model to 7.3 billion people, always with aspiration, a capability driven by storytelling, content, and the quality of the products.” ¹ Watch full response

Influencers are here to stay

“The advocacy model, what we call word of mouth, works. People trust other people. Social media amplifies that. Corporations like that, if you have a good story, that story travels very well in social media.

Think of Estee Lauder; she herself was an influencer. Successful influencers are fundamentally good marketing people. They create value by understanding the consumer and speaking their language. I personally think influencers are here to stay.” ² Watch full response

Leading others without being in charge

“Culturally, women are raised with the belief that we are better for influencing than decision making. This is not true. Every leader, man, or woman must exercise both muscles, that of direct decision-making with the power that comes from that, as well as influencing. Influencing is more difficult and complex than direct decision-making because you must manage many stakeholders. And for many of them, you don’t have direct power. I recommend moving from roles that are more direct, in decision-making, towards those in influencing. You need both.” ³ Watch full response

Companies supporting women’s global careers

“I was very fortunate Johnson & Johnson, my employer earlier on, was extremely helpful. The company had daycare centers in every big facility. My son had been to Japan by the time he was six. I would take my kids with me; they will stay in daycare, and then they would come to my hotel in the evening. For me, it was a relief to be able to have a global career, travel, and be a mother.

The value of Expatriates

“Some companies do better than others. Some see it as a cost. Expatriation, on average, costs 2.5 times that of a local employee. I am a bit puzzled companies are cutting that. Today, the world needs that more than ever.”

Working in different cultures to understand consumers

“Living and working in different places provides a tremendous competitive advantage for careers because you better understand consumer and business practices. I have to say I was in that mindset since the beginning of my career. I wanted to have a global career out of curiosity, not as a business plan. I tell my kids, “if you don’t spend a big part of your career early enough in Asia, how can you be a global leader?” Watch full response

The best piece of advice before entering the workforce

1. Take risks, go for it, do what you like. The only regret I have today is about things I did not do. I have zero regrets about whatever I did.

2. Be nice to yourself. It’s a long journey. You’re going to be working for 60 years. You’re going to have ups and downs. In the beginning, you don’t have that self-confidence. You look for appreciation too much. Just be nice to yourself. Everybody makes mistakes; you will make plenty.

3. Network. As you build your career or your personal life, you need communities that will always support you. The mistake people make is to go and build that network when they need help. No, it’s the other way around. You build a network by giving.” ⁵ Watch full response


Other questions Ms. Garinois-Melenikiotu responded

As a business leader, what did you learn from Covid? Watch full response

What can global companies learn from startups? Watch full response

What can startups learn from global companies? Watch full response

How can companies make it easier for women to have global careers? Watch full response

I want to make a difference in the world. Foster inclusion and diversity. Should I work for a global company? Watch full response

How difficult was it for you and your family to move from one continent to the next and live in 8 countries? Watch full response

Watch it on Youtube

The full interview it’s available on YouTube here.


Other Speakers

Maik Rutschmann. Head of Strategic Finance, Roche. Global Pharma Strategy. Explained to you and me. Read more

Alexandra Trower. Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, The Estée Lauder Companies, Leading Global Communications. Read more

Umit Subasi FMR President, International Markets, Campbell Soup. Executive Board Member and President, Emerging Markets, Beiersdorf. The value of feedback. Read more

Karthik Natarajan Senior Vice President & Regional CFO, Procter & Gamble. Strategies to win in Asia — everywhere. Read more


Why we bring speakers to a Finance class

At a school with constant innovation, the best thing we can do for our students is to have them speak with real-world leaders to become inspired. It’s mutually beneficial. Teaching this class is a highlight of the week for me. I frequently use for my “day job” ideas about pricing and product launches I learn from my students. Read more about this class.




George Benaroya

VP Finance, Global Controller, CFO | P&G, Tetra Pak, Nivea| Strategy executed in 180 countries ►Profitable growth| NYU Faculty