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Global Business Initiative Partners with The Estée Lauder Companies’ Gen Z Network Initiative

The Global Business Initiative, the Undergraduate Program Office at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) launched a semester-long pilot program in October 2020 focused on developing and building the next generation of leaders in beauty, titled the Gen Z Network Initiative.

The unique partnership, led by ELC’s CEO Global Reverse Mentor Program Team, connected a group of 10 undergraduate students with a team of executives from the company, giving students the opportunity to provide valuable consumer-focused feedback on the company’s brands, products and upcoming launches.

In exchange, ELC provided development, educational, and mentorship opportunities, as well as industry insights, allowing students to engage with and learn from executives across various areas of the company.

“The program has been a fantastic venue for students to gain hands-on experience with a multinational company, with real challenges in real situations,” said Ricardo Ernst, Baratta Chair in Global Business and director, Global Business Initiative. “It has been such an important project because it allowed us to pilot what we are hoping to execute on a larger scale. It has been an extreme success.”

The pilot program is a strong complement to several internal initiatives focused on developing the next generation of leaders at The Estée Lauder Companies, including the CEO Global Reverse Mentor Program, the Presidential Associate, and Presidential Management Associate Programs, among others.

“Our vision for the Gen Z Network Initiative is to inspire change by giving a voice of influence and impact to young talent earlier in their lives and careers,” said Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO, The Estée Lauder Companies. “We want to empower the next generation of leaders to use their voices, and to use them loudly.”

The initiative was piloted with members of the Georgetown Retail & Luxury Association (GRLA), an undergraduate student club with a focus on consumer goods. The students’ feedback helped to guide M·A·C – one of the 25+ brands in the company’s portfolio – in understanding Gen Z consumers by analyzing their preferences, shopping behaviors, and media consumption habits, specific to its Travel Retail division.

“The Gen Z Network Initiative gives our company the opportunity to learn from a targeted Gen Z consumer group that is entering a ‘key moment’ of life where they are building shopping and beauty habits,” said Taylor Van Hare, Assistant Manager, CEO Global Reverse Mentor Program Team and lead, Gen Z Network Initiative, The Estée Lauder Companies. “The program allows us to stay connected to this emerging group of consumers, while leveraging their unbiased, consumer-focused perspectives as a resource for our business.”

Ten students from Georgetown University participated from regions around the world, including the United States, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. They were selected based on their transcript, resume, and application responses.

“Such a partnership gives us the opportunity to participate in the real world market, as we are called to provide feedback and suggestions to the company and have access to key business objectives,” said Alexandra Kostopoulou (B‘21), participating member and GRLA co-president. “This initiative allows us to improve our understanding of the thought process that goes behind the forces driving real-world consumer habits, roadblocks, and marketing techniques.”

The cohort fostered an inviting environment that gave students the ability to express themselves authentically while providing candid feedback from a Gen Z lens.

“It allowed us students to express our personality and showcase our unconventional talents in a casual, welcoming, and inclusive setting,” said Ana Lucia Marin Jaramillo (B‘21), participating member and GRLA co-president, “We were able to explore the behind-the-scenes version of ELC, and ELC was able to discover the most authentic version of ourselves.”

Baratta Center for Global Business
Global Business Initiative
Undergraduate Program