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Scott Beattie speaks about trust within an organization

  • Cindy Li
  • |
  • Jul 20, 2020
Scott Beattie speaks about trust within an organization

Cindy Li is an MBA candidate and Forté Fellow who is naturally curious and enjoys making sense of complex problems. With a unique professional background in venture capital investment and business development, she has exposure to a broad range of industries and business ideas. Her goal while at Ivey is to be challenged intellectually and to explore various interests, including data analytics, marketing, and operations. In her blog below, Cindy writes about lessons learned from Scott Beattie, HBA '81, MBA '86, Vice Chairman, Revlon Inc., who spoke to students on July 16 for the MBA Teachable Moments Virtual Speaker Series, a program designed to provide Ivey MBAs with unprecedented access to accomplished leaders.

Diversity is the key to innovative thinking

Emerging from the pandemic with uncharted challenges, global corporations need to adopt an innovative mindset and rethink the way they organize resources and processes. As Scott Beattie rightly pointed out, innovation goes beyond the narrow definition of technological advancement and new product development. To stay relevant and build resilience, organizations should renovate their business models and the way they communicate, both internally and externally. Beattie shares that, a diverse workforce fosters stimulating conversations within an organization and ensures a constant flow of new ideas in product design, packaging, and advertising. In essence, diversity is the key to innovative thinking and is more important than ever during the time of uncertainty.

Instill trust with authenticity

Part of Beattie’s success as a leader is attributed to his belief in authenticity. To win trust and loyalty from customers, an organization should first instill trust from within. Starting with only five employees, Elizabeth Arden grew into a major American cosmetics brand that retained a flat organizational structure. Cross-functional collaboration and transparent communication accelerated product innovation cycles and contributed to creative marketing campaigns. In the cosmetics industry where consumers’ attentions spread over a broad range of offerings, a flexible and responsive organizational structure enabled Elizabeth Arden to continuously deliver fresh content and remain relevant. Beattie emphasized that as leaders, we must place trust in our people and dedicate to creating an open environment that encourages collaboration. An organization that celebrates authenticity will attract and retain talent who share the same value and instill trust among its customers at large.

Reflect, adapt, and march forward

In the face of a global pandemic, small businesses with limited resources struggle to stay alive while large players with traditional advantages retreat to a survival mentality. When things escalate at an unprecedented speed, it is easy to be carried away by myriad moving pieces and fail to reflect on past experiences. Instead of scrambling to grasp the ‘new normal’, leaders should bear in mind the teaching from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “The only constant in life is change.”  One of Beattie’s key strength as a leader is his ability to identify new opportunities and adapt to change. He shared that when Elizabeth Arden first entered the Chinese market, major cosmetics brands crowded the in-store channels, leaving little space to compete. With the recognition that the Asian market has a very different set of characteristics, Elizabeth Arden became one of the first brands to enter TMALL, a Chinese ecommerce platform under the Alibaba Group. This partnership opened up a powerful sales channel and contributed to Elizabeth Arden’s success.

Career advice to the graduating class

As a concluding remark, Beattie reflected fondly on his early career with Accenture and Merrill Lynch. The cross-functional training he received in a structured environment equipped him with the toolkit he believes is essential to leading a global organization. Beattie encourages the graduating class to break silos and explore their passion across different business functions. With a global mindset and a multi-disciplinary approach, we, as future leaders, will be better positioned to take up any challenge that awaits.