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Alumni Profile

A shade of Greene

Lynne Green

Lynne Greene, BS Ed ’74, is the first woman to serve as Clinique's global president in two decades. Photo courtesy of Clinique

Clinique started in 1968 with the radical concept that “Great Skin Can Be Created,” but Lynne Greene had no idea that the brand would create a great career for her.

After attending a summer training seminar for Clinique products, Greene fell in love with the cosmetics line’s simplicity. Armed with a desire to succeed, she started in St. Louis as an account executive with Estée Lauder Cos., the parent company of Clinique, a few years after graduating from Mizzou.

“I worked around the clock — a full 24 hours,” says Greene, BS Ed ’74, a native of Lebanon, Mo. “What I didn’t know, I made up for with learning agility and tenacity.”

It turns out Greene still loves Clinique. And she should — she runs it.

In 2006, after more than 20 years with the Estée Lauder Cos., Greene became global president of Clinique, the No. 1 beauty brand in the United States, according to Beauty Inc. Greene, who now lives in New York, says she has witnessed a foundational change in the cosmetics industry toward welcoming women in leadership roles. She is the first woman to hold the top spot in two decades.

“I want other women to succeed and be successful,” she says. “I feel like it’s my job to do that for them.”

Greene loves employing mothers and is quick to point out the perspective women bring to selling women’s products.

“I can’t relate to shaving a man’s face like I can to putting mascara on a woman’s eyelashes,” she says. “These are emotional connections that you can make in any part of the world.”

Under Greene’s leadership, Clinique is making those global connections in 139 countries and territories where the company sells its products. It is now Russia’s No. 1 brand in skin care and is growing rapidly in Brazil, India and China, according to Greene. She expects Clinique’s global sales to increase by 15 percent in the 2011 Estée Lauder fiscal year, a big turnaround from pre-2006 numbers.

The international businesswoman attributes much of her personal success to being adaptable. “You don’t necessarily have to say ‘I am going to do X’ and be that,” Greene says of choosing a career.

And she knows a thing or two about adaptability; Greene spent a year as an elementary teacher after graduating from MU. Although she now applies education to consumer trends instead of classroom curriculum, one thing remains a constant in Greene’s life.

“You have to be committed to having success.” — David Earl