The head of beauty and personal care for Unilver PLC North America was more into math than makeup while growing up. Esi Eggleston Bracey thought she would follow in the footsteps of her father, a math teacher, and pursue a career focused on numbers. Those aspirations changed at Dartmouth College, where she studied engineering sciences. Bracey spent her time in college involved in group activities like dance and acting, and "didn’t like getting [her] hands dirty.”
A new path emerged when she met a recruiter from Procter & Gamble and agreed to go to an information session about managing brands. Bracey's first job at P&G was in soap as a brand assistant for Comet Cleanser. A few years later, she created Febreze, conceived of as a fabric refresher. She later built her career building beauty brands and left P&G for Unilever where she was responsible for for iconic brands like TRESemmé, Dove, and Suave in North America.
Throughout her career, Esi Eggleston Bracey has relied on her personal board of directors, longtime friends, colleagues, and career advisers like Charles Gray who leads Egon Zehnder’s Technology Officers Practice in North America.
Gray, an executive search consultant, took on the role of informal career adviser after the pair met a few years ago while he was doing a board search. She estimates they talk once a month about business issues and board opportunities and says she seeks his advice on how she can broaden her experiences and perspectives to lead better. “We had an instant affinity,” says Bracey. “It helps to have someone who has an objective perspective on how your profile and skills compare to others.”
Before she joined the board of theme park company Six Flags Entertainment Corp. in August, she sought out Gray’s advice. Those chats helped her decide that being on a smaller board in an industry buffeted by COVID-19 would help her learn a lot. “The recruiter who placed me in that role has different interests,” she said. “Chuck knows me and helps advise me.”
Full story: Saabira Chaudhuri: Where a Unilever Cosmetics Exec Established Her Foundation, in The Wall Street Journal (3 October 2020).