Finding your true purpose
Saving the orangutans and all the precious wildlife is no doubt an exhausting yet rewarding mission, but Trudi Jaye, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Retreatment Botanics, won’t be slowing down on the meaningful journey any time soon.
"2021 was a tough year but it brought an immense opportunity to delve within and align with what really matters," she shares. "Caring for both our personal wellbeing and the world around us has become a non-negotiable. I know this is true for myself, my team and our beautiful Retreatment community.
"2022 is the year we embrace our power to create the highest vision for our lives and our planet."
Live a simpler life
"There's no denying 2021 has been a really tough one, both personally and professionally. For me, the key lessons I've learned over the past 12 months come down to the basics: look after yourself and your loved ones, surround yourself with the right people, focus on what drives you and understand compassion and patience are always necessary," he says.
"Strong relationships are the backbone to great business, and I've stayed laser-focused on building concrete partnerships in a time when having solidarity and support for your community is key.
"As for what's next, 2022 is about the road ahead and chasing that dream of being the best. Australian Boutique Spirits as a team is bound together with the goal of taking our brands from the community I was born and raised to the world. We have a strong track record despite the turbulence of 2021, and an even more exciting future in the pipeline."
Be present in the now
As the granddaughter of Estée Lauder, Aerin Lauder, Founder and Creative Director at AERIN, and Style and Image Director at Estée Lauder, has a rich bounty of blissful memories from her time spent growing up in the beauty-adorned shadows of her family-founded business The Estée Lauder Companies. Sharing never-seen-before photos in her latest book Estée Lauder: A Beautiful Life, Aerin tells The CEO Magazine how the pandemic reaffirmed the importance of being present.
"This past year was all about health, happiness and spending time with family and close friends," she says. "This year reinforced my appreciation of making special memories with loved ones and how these simple joys truly matter most. I look forward to carrying these values into the upcoming year."
Value the power of people
"The thing that’s been highlighted to me this year is the importance of people – and building a culture within my business where family, friends and relationships always come first," she reveals. "I had an incredibly challenging year, losing both of my grandparents over a really short space of time, but because of my incredible team, I was able to take time out to honour their lives. They rallied around me, gave me this time, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
"I want to ensure this same time is available to everyone on my team. I want them to take time to honour the people in their lives and be there not just for the big moments but all the important ones – whether it’s a sports game, an assembly, an anniversary or birthday. Work should never, ever come before our family and friends.
"I created this business after many years working in a corporate environment that only valued that old style of working: an ‘achieve at all costs’ mentality. And I really don’t want this for myself or for my team. I want to see us all thrive in our careers but also in ourselves.
"We can have successful careers without them coming at an expense to our health and happiness."
Protect the planet
Sustainability was searched at record highs this year globally, and Cécile Lochard , Guerlain’s Chief Sustainability Officer, is one of the visionaries at the forefront of the industry spearheading change. The LVMH-owned beauty brand not only understands the value of a planet-friendly business model, but it is striving to change global consumer perception.
"I do believe sustainability is shaping the way the world is changing – and it will continue to do so in the future in our luxury cosmetics business," she shares with The CEO Magazine. "Sustainability is the next frontier for luxury brands as it now serves as a vital component of our clients’ motivation and it is a worthwhile, overdue reform that provides valuable opportunities for all luxury brands involved.
"Luxury brands have an urgent mission to propose and introduce an approach that promises to deliver a sustainably driven tomorrow and beyond.
"This health crisis, combined with the climate crisis and the erosion of biodiversity, requires us to ‘set the clock back’ on luxury and reexamine our fundamentals. It is a catalyst and accelerator of the profound changes in the luxury and beauty sector that are already in
"This crisis is ultimately a revelation, the possibility of a rebound and, by the same token, an extraordinary opportunity to reinvent ourselves and to reconnect with a form of essentiality in our businesses.
"We must take bold initiatives and the next big step for 2022 is to evolve to a circular economy and make a definitive statement that embraces the market opportunity that sustainability provides.
"We will also amplify the power of our voice – we have a specific responsibility to evolve, not only for the luxury sector, but also more widely. We must be exemplary and lead the way by
creating products whose exceptional quality also applies to environmental aspects.
"Nature has been a common thread for the maison. It is the link between its history, its roots and its future. This acknowledgement has an even stronger meaning today as our common future cannot tolerate hesitations and lack of ambition any longer. This responsibility urges us to look critically at the impact of our decisions and commit to change.
"It’s not always easy and we do not always succeed, but we don’t give up."
Be agile and adaptive
Before Ankiti Bose, Co-Founder and CEO of Zilingo, turned 30, she was on track to becoming the first Indian woman to found a unicorn startup – this young age mixed with a fast-changing tech industry only primed her for the uncertainty of a pandemic.
"The year 2021 taught us to always be ready to expect the unexpected," she says. "As a company, we worked hard to educate and empower our customers with the best technology and resources to quickly digitise their businesses and recover from the COVID impact.
" Thanks to our fantastic team, we've returned to more volumes and scale than we had pre-COVID. We learned the value of community and how people can work together to build a compassionate world.
"COVID-19's second wave in 2021 was unparalleled for many of the geographies we work in. Many of us lost loved ones, we mourned the death of a co-worker together due to COVID and witnessed teammates and their families fight to obtain oxygen and hospital beds. Strangers helped strangers and everyone came together to help those in need.
"This really reaffirms our faith in the power of people. Despite the pandemic, our team worked relentlessly and passionately to serve individuals in need, while ensuring we were on track with our business goals.
"For me, 2021 will always be about the power of hope, compassion and resilience."
Refill your tank
"2021 has taught me how important it is to truly take care of yourself and allow space for your team to do the same. You can't expect people to achieve great things on an empty tank, or expect yourself to either.
"Going into the new year, I'll be encouraging my team to take the time and space they need for a productive and fulfilling 2022."
Roll with the changes
Throughout her extraordinary 25 years at La Prairie, Rosi Fernandez, La Prairie Group Australia and New Zealand Managing Director and newly appointed Chair of the Cancer Patients Foundation board, has no doubt learned a lesson or two; however, no experience prepared her for the perils of a pandemic.
"2021 was a year of putting into practice the lessons learned in 2020 and trying new ways to build the business," she reflects. "We tried and tested, sometimes we tanked, so we tweaked and tried again.
"Agility and resilience were simply part of the everyday standard. Personally, it was a genuinely rewarding time where my management team not only held onto the roller-coaster, but thrived on the twists and turns. Our retail managers took on the role of the direct salespeople as our stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland were closed for significant periods. What this resulted in was not just a close bond with our clients, but also a deeper and firsthand understanding of what our clients want and a new empathy for the skills of our frontline salespeople.
"COVID is not going away. 2022 will not be a return to the conditions of 2019. What we are certain of is that unpredictability is something we have become experts at working with.
"The one consistency that remains is that people are at the heart of the business, and respect, trust, support and development are the basics for our ongoing success.
"We are looking forward to continuing to adapt to the changing retail landscape with our learnings firmly in our toolkit."
Pursue a better normal
Precision Group of Companies CEO and Managing Director Shaun Bonétt says his company didn’t just survive the COVID-19 crisis, but instead emerged stronger – and it’s this determination that’s setting the business up for success in the years to come.
"Gratitude and humility are important every day of the year, but at this time, they are more important than ever," he shares. "The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic has, for most of us, been even more difficult as many of us have seen our resilience tested to the limit, and long-term stresses and challenges emerged as we attempted to move to a ‘new normal’.
"Challenges notwithstanding, this has been another progressive, vital and vibrant year in the history for the Precision Group business. The way in which we have worked cooperatively to uphold the interests of our business and also support our stakeholders speaks volumes of our culture and the strong connection we have in each other. Over and over, human ingenuity has unfailingly demonstrated the ability to persevere, adapt and flourish.
"I think we can all agree that it is dangerous to assume the world doesn't suddenly get better just because the calendar rolls over to a new year! At the same time, there are reasons to be optimistic. The seeds we have planted in 2021 will bear fruit in the new year. Please continue to have faith in yourself and keep focused on the path ahead. In 2022, we have a chance to do more than just return to ‘normal’. We can and should pursue a better normal.
"Let’s charge forward and hold tight to that bold and unshakable resilience. That’s how we’ll create a better future."
Look for the positive moments
Having joined Swire Hotels in 2017, a passion for travel runs through Toby Smith’s blood. And after years of restrictions, the Swire Hotels Deputy Chairman is ready to welcome guests again with five new hotels in the pipeline.
"After an extraordinarily tough two years, we are looking forward to a more positive 2022," he explains. "Talking to our guests, there is no doubt there is a pent-up demand for both business and leisure travel, but how quickly this returns will depend on how and when the frictions around COVID-era flying can be removed.
"It seems clear that there will be a dual speed recovery between those countries in the region that are learning to live with COVID versus those that are still pursuing a ‘zero COVID’ strategy."
Be a sponge for knowledge
For journalist turned nutricosmetics pioneer Carla Oates, the COVID-struck years have been among the most challenging, although The Beauty Chef Founder and CEO didn’t let it stop her from establishing bio-fermentation facility Fermco.
"I have learned more about business, people and resilience this year than I have in the past 10 years," she reveals. "It has probably been the hardest year I have ever experienced in the company. And it has reinforced the importance of building a strong leadership team that is both goals and values aligned.
"While this year has been challenging, it has been a very important and invaluable learning curve for me that I believe will help set the business up for greater success."
Connection is key
For a communications, public relations and events business, lockdowns and restrictions are far from ideal. And MAXMEDIALAB and MAXCONNECTORS Founder and CEO Lynette Phillips is hoping to come back bigger and better in 2022 – the year of making connections.
"While I have always appreciated the power of connection, 2021 highlighted the importance of human connection for my businesses, myself and our teams as well," she says. "While we are forever grateful for the technologies that virtually connected us, 2021 has certainly shown that human connection is not to be underestimated.
"For us, 2022 is the year of human connection. This will be at the forefront and the underlying theme for not just the year ahead, but many more to come. Think agency initiatives, experiences and events – all which will provide the opportunity to connect creatives, clients, consumers and colleagues. Watch this space."
Feature image (left to right): Ankiti Bose, Michael Clarke and Aerin Lauder.