Undergraduate Student Selected to Estée Lauder’s Presidential Associate Program
Ashley Chen (B’22) is a senior at Georgetown McDonough, majoring in marketing and management with a minor in art. While on campus, Ashley has been involved in several global opportunities, including The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) Gen Z Network Initiative, the Cartier Challenge, and hosting several high-profile executives from luxury and retail industries (on campus and remotely) as creative director of The Georgetown Retail & Luxury Association (GRLA). After graduation, Ashley will be moving to New York City to work for ELC as a Presidential Associate, on the Marketing Track.
Tell us a bit about your recent experience in the Cartier Challenge. What was your biggest takeaway from working with the French iconic brand?
It was such an honor to work with Cartier’s global team in a marketing challenge from Washington D.C. Cartier’s team told us,“the sky is the limit.” So we took it to space. My team and I started by letting our imaginations run wild and brainstorming as many big ideas as we could.
During the ideation stage, our team agreed that no idea was too big, too crazy, or impossible. It was much easier to start with big ideas and figure out the logistics from there than to expand on limited ideas. This is how my team went about providing actionable recommendations. My biggest takeaway from working with Cartier was to continuously challenge my creativity and think like the sky is the limit.
You also took part in the ELC’s Gen Z Initiative, both in the pilot and in the second iteration of the program with a Korean brand. What were some valuable lessons about the experience?
For the ELC Gen Z Network Initiative, I collaborated with Gen Z peers and ELC brand leaders to strengthen brand campaigns and strategies through semester-long partnerships with ELC brands–MAC Cosmetics for the pilot, then Clinique, and most recently with Dr. Jart+. During the sessions, we were prompted to provide actionable feedback and insights on Gen Z consumer behavior to brand decision-making.
ELC has a culture of leading from every chair, which I experienced throughout the program. I found it incredible that the global leader in prestige beauty cared about what my peers and I had to say–being heard and having an influence so early on in my career was really empowering. ELC encourages leaning in and speaking up when there is something to contribute. I could not be more excited to continue working with them full-time after graduation!
What will your work entail as a Presidential Associate (PA) for ELC?
The PA Program is an 18-month rotational program. As a PA on the Marketing Track, I will experience working in various marketing roles during three, six-month rotations with different ELC brands. ELC has a diverse portfolio of global brands, so I’m excited to gain global exposure and I hope to rotate abroad if given the opportunity. Cultivating a global mindset is increasingly important for business success in an interconnected world.
As Creative Director, tell us a bit about your work for the GRLA , and how your work changed due to COVID-19.
I joined the GRLA the fall semester of my freshman year and found a family-like community with shared interests and passions. Within my first semester of college, we hosted the CEO of Tiffany & Co. and the CEO of Lamborghini Americas. The following semester, we hosted the CEO of The ELC.
I then served as Creative Subdirector my sophomore year and Creative Director my junior year. As the pandemic hit that year, we faced a fair share of challenges as we adjusted to operating virtually. Most of our members are international students, so even finding a time to meet was more difficult than usual. With that being said, we were still able to hold successful virtual events–we hosted Pauline Brown, the former chairman of LVMH North America, the founder and CEO of Dr. Barbara Sturm, and designer, Johanna Ortiz.
How do you think all these experiences at McDonough have helped in your overall understanding of global business?
I think what I learned from our wonderful faculty in the classroom and through several opportunities that McDonough offers outside the classroom – including clubs, programs, and partnerships with real-world industry leaders – has laid a solid foundational understanding of global business, which I will continue to build upon after graduation and throughout my career. I am truly grateful for the exposure I received to real industry challenges and for the interaction with senior executives from an industry I feel passionate about. It will be hard to say goodbye to Georgetown McDonough in May, but I could not be more excited for what is next!