Avon Products, Inc. announced that its president, Elizabeth (Liz) Smith, has made the decision to leave the company effective Oct. 30, 2009, to pursue her long-time leadership aspiration to be a CEO. Avon said Smith made this decision following a highly successful five-year career with the company, during which she played an instrumental role in repositioning the business for long-term sustainable growth.
Smith joined Avon in January 2005 as executive vice president and brand president. In August 2005, she added responsibility for leadership of North America. In September 2007, she was named president, Avon Products, Inc., with responsibility for leading the company's global marketing, supply chain and information technology business units, and later also assumed oversight for global sales.
"During the past five years, Liz has partnered closely with me as we have executed the company's turnaround plan," said Andrea Jung, Avon's chairman and CEO. "She has been instrumental in strengthening our brand competitiveness and elevating our analytical and operational rigor. Most recently as president, she has successfully driven the global integration of our key business processes and technology, helping us develop the requisite infrastructure and wiring to capitalize on our global size and scale. With these efforts well underway, Liz is ready to take the next step in her career and believes the time is right for her to seek a CEO-level position in another company. I want to thank Liz for her exceptional leadership, and for her support of the entire team, and especially me personally. We wish her all the best as she pursues her long-time career aspiration."
"My five years with Avon have been among my most professionally rewarding as we have strengthened the foundation of the business and put the company on a growth track," said Smith. "My decision to leave was not an easy one, given my continuing belief in Avon's many growth opportunities as well as my respect for the company's mission to improve the lives of women. I have been privileged to work with an outstanding team including Andrea Jung, whose leadership I admire tremendously. With Andrea's commitment as a relatively young CEO to lead Avon for the foreseeable future and with her full support, the time is right for me to seek the next step of my career outside of Avon."
The company said that with Smith's departure, the global business units that reported to Smith will now report directly to Jung, as they did before the appointment of Smith as president in 2007. Jung will also continue to oversee the company's commercial operations. The company said that it has no immediate plans to replace Smith in her current role.
"We are fortunate to have an executive leadership team with tremendous depth of talent and experience as well as diversity of perspectives," said Jung. "With this strong executive bench, I am confident that we have the right team to lead the company through its next period of growth."