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Rebuilding in Double Time

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: September 5, 2008
Shinzo Maeda

Shiseido President Shinzo Maeda

“It’s the way you play that makes it … Play like you play. Play like you think and then you got it, if you’re going to get it. And whatever you get, that’s you, so that’s your story.” —Count Basie

Shinzo Maeda’s story begins to build around the time Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” first sent a shiver down his spine. He discovered jazz as a trombonist in his high school’s brass band, and developed such a craving for the American music genre while at Keio University that he arranged his campus life around the Big Band Club’s practice sessions. At the same time his enthusiasm for jazz was growing, he developed a similar attraction to a company whose corporate image and cutting-edge technologies drew his career aspirations. Today, Count Basie is a favorite, and Maeda is president and CEO of that inspiring company, Shiseido, where he started his career in 1970.

Shiseido has grown from its start in 1872 as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy. Maeda oversees an organization whose cosmetics brands include Maquillage, Clé de Peau Beauté, Benefiance and Benefique. Non-Shiseido brands include Jean Paul GAULTIER, d’ici la and IPSA. The cosmetics segment represents 79.5% of the company’s total net sales for fiscal year 2006. Sales of toiletries, professional products and pharmaceuticals also contribute to corporate revenue.

Working the Plan

When he succeeded Morio Ikeda as president of Shiseido in 2005, Maeda’s charge was to carry out the latest three-year plan, called “Growth & Rapid Progress,” which he had worked with his predecessor to develop. An earlier move to the head office and a succession of positions gave him broad experience in fiscal planning, marketing and inventory management, culminating in his appointment as general manager of the cosmetics strategic planning department of the cosmetics marketing division in 1996. It was there that he first became closely involved with Shiseido’s three-year plan, one that, at the time, called for brand concentration, mega-brand building and a way to become number one in respective categories.