CIO Straight Talk - Issue 9 - 20
Estée Lauder Companies
Leading the technology transformation at this leading maker of
cosmetics and skincare products required boldness, persuasiveness -
and a zeal for tackling the challenges of change.
New York, NY
Rhonda Vetere has more than two decades of
experience in information technology management
across industries ranging from banking to technology
to personal care products. She specializes in
mergers and acquisitions, insourcing/outsourcing,
and managing global teams. Vetere has worked
in New York, London, and Mumbai, has managed
organizations of up to 20,000 people, and is the
co-author of a special edition book, Enterprise
Service Management for Dummies. She is a strong
advocate of more women CxOs in technology and has
won numerous technology awards for leadership and
Various challenging pursuits, including cliff diving and
The world around us is changing more rapidly
than ever before, and keeping up with that
change is a constant challenge for companies.
That's why it's important to remember that, in
the digital era, IT determines business velocity.
take. But I'm all about change and making a
difference. So I was excited to take on the role.
When I joined Estée Lauder Companies more
than three years ago, its leaders were committed
to rethinking the company's IT infrastructure
in order to increase the speed and agility not
just of the technology function, but of the
the highway at 70 miles an hour or repairing
the engines on a jumbo jet mid-flight. In
today's hypercompetitive and rapidly changing
marketplace, it's really more like trying to
renovate the propulsion system on a rocket ship
while it's taking off for Mars. Which is to say, our
initiative hasn't been your normal IT project.
Estée Lauder is a $11.3 billion company with
an expansive-and expanding-portfolio of
more than 25 cosmetics and fragrance brands.
As CTO, I oversee an organization that not
only "keeps the lights on" for our businesses
around the globe - making sure our systems are
available, resilient, and secure - but also creates
a foundation for a company that is growing by
acquisition and embracing digital innovation.
It wasn't entirely clear before I was hired what
form that infrastructure transformation would
People often describe the challenges of
technology transformation using the analogy of
changing the tires while the car is driving down
But when digital transformation and growth are
top priorities, a high-performing IT infrastructure
is critical. And the benefits of getting an IT
infrastructure transformation right are huge.
It opens up a wealth of opportunities not just
for savings and process improvements, which
are important, but also to create competitive
advantage by having the robust and flexible
technology environment required to keep pace
in these fast changing times.