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CEW Welcomes Andrea Jung

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: September 27, 2011

From left, Carlotta Jacobson, president, CEW; Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO, Avon; and Jill Scalamandre, CEW chairwoman and CMO, Chrysallis.

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With 12 years as CEO of Avon, the largest direct selling company in the world, Jung knows what gives the company credibility. Among products, she cited Anew, which she says put the company on the map for innovation and technology. With fragrances, she noted the appeal of authenticity, citing Fergie and Reese, which show the spirit of the brand. Jung also noted that Avon is now an $800 million contributor to the Foundation for Breast Cancer Research and Domestic Violence issues. She affirmed that these causes were the ones that Avon representatives wanted to contribute to, and emphasized the fact that social responsibility and financial independence are key among Avon’s mission and goals.

“Not a lot of people have the privilege and challenge of being in this position for this amount of time and for me, it’s been a love affair. When you fall in love, you get to ride the highs and see it through the lows,” said Jung, recalling that when she was younger she had wanted to join the Peace Corps, but needed to work. Ultimately, it was a collision of needs and ideas, which she has successfully combined in her professional life.

Business and The Future

In response to a question about her toughest moment in business, Jung said, “The path is never smooth. For me, it’s getting up and saying, yes, there have been failures and brilliant successes, particularly watching people succeed, and 6.5 million people who have contributed to Avon are huge parts of our success."

She discussed the period during which Avon was experiencing rapid growth, expanding into new markets and needing to restructure. At that time, Jung, encouraged by a mentor, had to look at the company as if it was a completely new company, and needed to address it as if she did not know all the people and teams as she did. “This requires being a different kind of leader. It’s an ongoing process,” she said.

When asked what she envisions next for herself, Jung said, “I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing Friday.” She further stated, however, “I have been privileged to impact issues and challenges and hope that I will be able to do something like that in the future. As far as Avon, we’re still on the journey. I was in Africa a few weeks ago and I’m trying to take that lens to affect socioeconomic progress,” she said, noting that Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric, had advised her to study the demographics of women and changing women’s socioeconomic status. “That’s where we should be. There are emerging markets, including India, where we want to expand business opportunities, and I believe the Internet will also help us do that. During WWII, Avon was selling war bonds; later came the advent of technology, and other challenges impacted us. We have always had to change the model to keep it relevant,” she said.