When Alexandra Trower began working at the Estée Lauder Companies 10 years ago as head of global communications, her role was much different than it is today, thanks in large part to social media.
“Social media has created this 24/7, on-steroids world,” she said. “A tweet can set off a chain reaction, and you need to chime in with the right voice, with the right messaging and in a way that feels super-authentic to the brand.”
And that’s not just for one brand. She oversees communications for Estée Lauder’s vast portfolio, which includes more than 25 prestige beauty brands.
“Each brand has a unique way to connect with their consumers,” Trower said. “The common denominator for all is authenticity.”
In addition, Trower is a communications adviser to executive leaders across the organization, an extension of her background in financial services, as well as mergers and acquisitions. The first ELC acquisition she played a part in was Smashbox in 2010. More recently, she’s helped transition brands including Becca Cosmetics, GlamGlow and Too Faced under the company umbrella.
“What we’ve looked at as a business is: How do we ensure we have multiple engines of growth and a diverse portfolio?” she said, of Estée Lauder’s acquisition strategy. “We are always looking for white space.”
And getting the chance to learn from younger, more digitally savvy brands doesn’t hurt.
“We have a digital-first mindset — but Too Faced, for example, was born in the age of social media versus the age of beautiful glossy magazines,” she said. “[With the acquisition,] there was an opportunity for us to learn from a number of their best practices.”
Days before accepting the 2018 Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications on April 23, Trower gave Glossy a rundown of an average workday, which included meeting over french fries at Fred’s, shopping the Estée Lauder company store and hitting a hair salon at 7:30 a.m.
6:15 a.m.: It’s Tuesday. My alarm goes off, and I reach for my phones to see what happened while I was asleep. I immediately begin to think about what excuse I can use to get out of my 6:30 a.m. yoga class. I eventually decide to throw on my clothes, grab my mat and meet my instructor at 6:30, with my usual greeting: “Please don’t make this too hard today.”
7:15 a.m.: When I finish yoga, I always feel so virtuous, which is a great way to start the day. I quickly jump in to the world’s fastest shower and then dress for the day. My closet is basically a bunch of various uniforms: black pants and jackets, single-color Michael Kors sheath dresses, a few treasured Chanel jackets and then fancier attire for special occasions. I mix this up with some fabulous Zara finds and some favorite T-shirts from Uniqlo.
7:30 a.m.: I throw my unbrushed hair into a ponytail, grab my purse and walk five blocks to my wonderful hair salon on Madison Avenue — which opens up at 7 a.m., making it one of the greatest places in the world! In the early morning, it is a power salon for female executives, who are all sitting with their phones, coffees and briefing papers, getting ready for their days. If there was ever a girls’ club, this would be it. My fabulous stylist, Lee, has been doing my hair for the last 10 years, and she has perfected the art of getting me in and out in 20 minutes. She understands that I’m from the South so I need a “pouf” and also copious amounts of hair spray to polish off her work.
8:15 a.m.: I then go to Harry Cipriani on 5th Avenue to meet my ELC reverse mentor, who is a huge, young talent of the Bobbi Brown brand. She teaches me about all the latest influencers and sites, and keeps me current on all that is cool on social media. We get down to business, while I order grapefruit, two poached eggs, a slice of bacon and a iced coffee with skim milk. (This is on a good day, when I’m following Dr. Gullo’s eating plan.)
9:30 a.m.: I race across 58th Street to arrive at the front door of the General Motors building, where The Estée Lauder Companies’ headquarters are located. I check my phones as I walk through the marble hallway and ride up 42 floors to the Global Communications department. My fabulous executive assistant, Joanie, usually stands up when she sees me, and I know what kind of day it will be depending on how many papers are in her hand.
10:00 a.m.: I’m happy that I have a kitchen-cabinet meeting with my direct reports, who span corporate affairs, external, internal, corporate digital, Lauder family and philanthropic communications. This is one of the best parts of my day. We all gather in my office, which has beautiful views of Central Park, and sit around my marble table, talking about the important work the team is doing to launch our newly revamped enterprise brand, the social media issues of the day and all of our work to continue to build the positive reputation of The Estée Lauder Companies. As always, our team meeting runs late, because we all like each other and also use this time to catch up personally. To help us end, we are interrupted by Joanie, who brings in a box of recently released products from MAC’s Nicopanda line, which are so cute and fun. We politely fight over the products, and I get the Gleamer Face Power.
12:00 p.m.: After catching up on some emails, I jump in a cab to go across town for an International Women’s Media Foundation board meeting, where I’m excited to see my colleague and friend Cindi Leive. We catch up on all the cool things she’s been doing since she left the helm of Glamour Magazine, such as the 2018 Courage in Journalism Awards. I leave our discussion feeling inspired and humbled. My “good” eating day goes down the drain when I realize I forgot to ask for a salad at the meeting, but I am secretly thrilled to have half a roast beef sandwich, two Diet Cokes and a few chips off of someone else’s plate.
2:00 p.m.: As I leave the board meeting, and my work phone buzzes as I hail a taxi. I know the number; it’s someone calling me from our headquarters. I answer, bracing for some crisis of the day that will most likely need to be solved before the sun goes down. I’m relieved to find that we have simply moved forward the timing of an important announcement to allow for us to maximize the positive news cycle over the next few weeks.
2:45 p.m: As I walk back into our building, I pop into the company store to get multiples of my favorite Bobbi Brown concealer and Estée Lauder eye pencils. My husband loves Aveda’s Hand Relief Moisturizing Crème, so I feel like a good wife when I put it in my bag.
3:00 p.m.: My heart sinks when I realize I have a two-hour leadership meeting, which is important but can often be heavy furniture! What I really want to do is spend the next few hours glued to my desk, meeting with my team and mapping our internal and external communications strategy for an upcoming campaign. The meeting runs late, but I learned a lot about important new trends happening in Asia that could be applied to other parts of our business. I start my list of how to best integrate that into our communications plans.
6:00 p.m.: One of my favorite colleagues asks to finish an earlier conversation over a martini, around the corner at Fred’s at Barneys. We justify also ordering their infamous french fries by saying we’ll each have only three — but of course, they are eventually gone. We have a lot of belly laughs and actually accomplish a lot of work.
7:30 p.m.: I jump in a cab on Madison Avenue and call my husband to let him know I will be home soon. I add that I will walk out our puppy, Moxie, as a sign of contrition for not calling him earlier. I scroll through ELC’s Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to catch up on all I’ve missed since I last checked. I’m so excited to see the posts my team has done on our corporate social channels related to Earth Month, encouraging followers to show us how they reuse their product jars with #ELCempties.
8:00 p.m.: I grab Moxie for a walk around the block. As she gets attention from our neighbors, I call Chirping Chicken to order the best roasted chicken and Greek salad for delivery.
9:30 p.m.: I catch up with my husband over dinner, then I hop in the bathtub with my phones to power through all the emails, social media posts and texts from the day. I use Jo Malone Body Wash in Lime Basil & Mandarin and Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and hide under the bubbles.
10:15 p.m.: I put on my favorite, 20-year-old Lilly Pulitzer pink pajamas and sneak into bed. After hoisting my big black bag of work to my lap, I review two presentations our team will share with senior leadership tomorrow — they look great. Then Jon and I debate about how cold to make the room, and he sweetly concedes to having it feel like an ice box. Finally, it’s lights out, until I start again tomorrow!