Making good change in the world through aligned values

10.28.2021 Alumni News

Alumna Katie Gomez (’09, MSM ’10), Global Director of Creative Operations at Tom Ford Beauty, speaks with Executive Director of Alumni Engagement, Stacy Owen, about her longevity in the beauty industry and the value of using your network.

Stacy: You graduated from the MSM program 11 years ago. As a Spanish major, do you recall your reasons for pursuing the program?

Katie: I realized that it was great to have a liberal arts education and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I needed business skills regardless of what I did. And it’s funny, because the classes in the MSM program that I didn’t think would be relevant are the ones I use the most (particularly accounting). I also wished I’d paid more attention in quantitative methods – those advanced Excel skills would really come in handy these days!

Stacy: What did you want to do coming out of the MSM program?

Katie: Save the world! I wanted to work in not-for-profit and change people’s lives for the better through micro-finance, focusing on women in Latin America. I didn’t know what that looked like but wanted to bring a business mindset to it.

Stacy: If your plans were to work for a not-for-profit, how did you end up with a job in the beauty industry? You’ve been with Estée Lauder for 10 years and have worked on multiple brands, including Clinique, Estée Lauder, and Tom Ford Beauty.

Katie: I interned with Estée Lauder between my junior and senior years in college – by chance, through networking. It was an incredible role, and I stayed in touch with my contacts there. After my senior year, I temped before starting the MSM program. On the day of graduation (from the MSM program), I got a text about a short-term opportunity at Clinique (an Estée Lauder brand) from my old manager. Two months later, the temp role led to another opportunity in the brand that was permanent, and the rest is history.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t have to work for a not-for-profit to make a difference in the world. My values align with those of the Estée Lauder Companies; it is a women-centric company that not only focuses on empowering women but takes care of the local and global community as well. Volunteer work and giving back is at the core of what we do.

Stacy: Given your experience with a temp-turned-full-time position, does this translate to advice for current students?

Katie: Yes! If there is something you’re interested in doing, it’s worth taking a temporary position. Test it out. Build your network. You never know what it will lead to.

Stacy: You’ve been in your role with Tom Ford Beauty almost five years; what does it mean to be a Global Director of Creative Operations?

Katie: My role is project management and some strategy for the creative team. I liaise between all departments including marketing, product development and supply chain. Mostly I focus on new product launches: working with marketing on their briefs and ensuring they are turned over on time and with the information Creative needs to complete the asks – this includes everything from packaging design and development to product and shade names to the advertising campaign for launch or to support regional needs around the world (such as Lunar New Year).

Stacy: There is so much in the news and on social media about beauty – what it means to be beautiful and how women should look. Is it tough to work in the beauty industry? What kind of pressures and expectations do you face?

Katie: The beauty industry is intense, demanding, fast paced, and changes constantly. But we remind ourselves that we’re not curing cancer; it’s still just a lipstick.

There is certainly a tension between natural beauty/beauty from within and “here are the 5,000 products you can buy to make you feel beautiful.” For some women, beauty products make them feel more confident; for others, it’s about having a routine or ritual of self-care. Estée Lauder believes it is up to the individual. We support who you are.

Stacy: What’s next?

Katie: I’m taking it day by day! I love where I am: project management in a creative world. I get to be creative without being a creative. I love working for a company that that has so much to offer in terms of roles and career development, so I never feel stuck.

Stacy: Words of wisdom for those students who want to work in the beauty industry?

Katie: Look for jobs that you think sound interesting, then look at your network. See who you know who can help you make connections. You don’t have to be a beauty aficionado to work in the industry but make sure it’s something that excites you – that’s what keeps you going when things get crazy!