Words by Elisabeth King
When the travel bug bites early it can have a huge effect on career choices.
Joyce Shu, Marketing Manager, Makeup & Trade Events, for Parfums Christian Dior, credits growing up in Hong Kong, overseas holidays and her parents’ wanderlust as catalysts when the time came to choosing a course at the University of New South Wales. “I enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce degree with majors in marketing and hospitality”, she notes. “It seemed to combine the best of both worlds. General enough to offer job opportunities in different business disciplines, with specialised components in hotel management”.
Shu was also attracted to the hospitality industry because it offered a fast track to learn about customer service, the importance of building relationships, problem solving and dealing with people from different backgrounds and nationalities. “During uni holidays I got a job at a major Japanese ski resort. I had the time of my life for three months, as I practiced my language skills and fulfilled the work experience component of my degree course”.
Over the next three years Shu worked in US and Canadian resorts in Colorado and Whistler. “The hours were long and the jobs were challenging. But both experiences helped me to work in a team environment and honed my customer service skills. When I returned to Australia, I took on the role of Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Four Points by Sheraton, supporting the Sales and Marketing Manager and working across different departments from sales and conference to finance and food and beverage. I also worked with creative agencies on marketing collateral development and distribution”.
But Shu confesses that she had long felt close to beauty. “I was always drawn to cosmetic counters because they open the door to such an aspirational and beautiful world. I felt that the industry was changing, and it was the right place for me. A position as Product Manager at Givenchy came up in 2003 and I was interviewed by Judy Ng, now General Manager at LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics Group. She took a leap of faith and gave me a trial three-month contract. The job entailed doing everything from PR through formulating marketing plans”.
Shu worked closely with Judy Ng for the next 10 years after shifting to the position of Marketing Manager for LVMH Fragrance Brands in 2007. “I also had the opportunity to work with Guerlain in Hong Kong just prior to taking on the new role. There were a lot of changes not only with the brands, including Givenchy, Guerlain, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors, but also team re-structuring and increasing competition in the marketplace. We also launched Fendi fragrance in Australia. Judy was an amazing mentor and I learned so much under her guidance. The most important challenge was to be creative and innovative, embrace change and remain strategic and customer-centric while keeping an eye on tight budget management”.
Shu became the Marketing Manager for Benefit Cosmetics in 2012. “As an American brand – disruptive, colourful and young at heart – Benefit has a totally different culture to LVMH’s French and Italian brands. It’s very digital and PR focused and everyone who works for the brand embraces its DNA. Benefit has experienced strong growth in recent years, and I contributed to the expansion of the brand to New Zealand and travel retail markets. The success of best-selling SKUs such as Gimme Brow, They’re Real mascara (now BADgal Bang!) and the primer POREfessional, as well as the unique and popular brow wax services, helped to catapult Myer Sydney City to the world’s number one department store counter for Benefit globally”.
But Benefit is about more than just selling products, says Shu. “One of my proudest and most honoured responsibilities was the launch of the Bold is Beautiful philanthropy program in 2015. Australia was one of the three inaugural trial countries for the project and we supported three local charities – Look Good Feel Better, SISTER2sister and Fitted for Work. In the six years I was with the brand, Benefit went from strength to strength, thanks to perseverance, hard work, strategic focus, increased resources and the leadership of General Manager, Beth Glancey”.
Benefit had also achieved great success in Sephora and sister brand Christian Dior was beginning to expand within the retailer with a new line aimed at Millennials, says Shu. “I joined the Dior team with my expertise in May 2018, as the Marketing Manager, Makeup & Trade Events. My first mission was the launch of Dior Backstage, a professional performance makeup line inspired by the backstage at Dior fashion shows for makeup junkies and makeup artists. Exclusive to Sephora and Dior Boutiques, the marketing strategy had to be different to other Dior launches because of the new target market and distribution channels”.
The key to success was to be customer centric and to take every opportunity possible, says Shu. “To gain traction for Dior Backstage in the market we engaged in strong PR with influencers and YouTubers, activities designed to maximise Sephora’s high store traffic, a strong beauty advisor team, and utilised digital and social media platforms to boost awareness and buzz to generate sales. The success of the Dior Backstage line has had a halo effect on the rest of the Dior range, contributing to the strong growth of the brand in Sephora, which has now launched the full range online”.
Shu considers herself very fortunate to have worked for six different globally renowned brands and inspiring leaders at the LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics Group. “Together with the amazing teams, we regularly achieved sales and profitability targets, gained market share, ventured into new countries and took advantage of new business opportunities. One of the most important things I have learnt is that it is important to constantly seek knowledge, embrace curiosity and view a challenge as an adventure. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said – You must do the things you think you cannot do”.