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The Interview in partnership with CEW: Sallie Berkerey, Managing Director, CEW UK

Sophie Smith
18 April 2024

This new monthly interview series in partnership with CEW, we'll feature one of CEW UK's executive board members, to gain insights into their careers and views on what being a business leader in today's beauty industry means to them. 

CEW UK is a professional organisation that promotes the British beauty industry, driving its dynamic growth in the global beauty economy. Its work centres around the core values of Education, Empowerment, Recognition and Philanthropy, championed by Managing Director Sallie Berkerey, who joined the business in 2019 after a 24-year career at Condé Nast Publications.

Since her appointment almost five years ago, Berkerey has continued to drive the organisation in the UK to greater success and has grown its network by over 35% in the past year alone, emphasising that a sense of community and collaboration in business is more important than ever.

In this interview with TheIndustry.beauty, she speaks about the importance of the British beauty industry, the biggest opportunities and challenges in the market today, her ambitions for CEW, and more.

Sallie Berkerey, Managing Director, CEW UK

Have you always had an interest in the beauty industry? Why does it appeal to you and why did you want to work within it? 

I have always loved beauty from a consumer perspective, and whilst in magazines, it was the category that was most appealing to me, but joining CEW in 2019 was my first role in "Beauty Proper". Before that, for 24 years, I held commercial roles at Condé Nast as an Associate Publisher on Glamour and British Vogue. Through these roles, I worked with some of the industry's most talented beauty editors and creators. This ignited my passion for beauty – going to launches with them and watching them ideate and create brilliantly written editorials and beautiful shoots. The beauty industry has always been innovative, creative, and dynamic, which fascinates me.

CEW UK promotes the British beauty industry; why is this important? What do you think sets the British beauty industry apart from other markets worldwide?

CEW launched in the UK in 1992, and since that time, the industry has evolved immeasurably and, despite the challenges over the past few years, continues to innovate and grow with an explosion of SMEs across the sector in recent years. Considering our relatively small geographical size, the UK market is seen as a significant and unique market for the beauty sector – the gateway to the rest of the world for many US businesses, which has produced globally renowned brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Jo Malone London and The Body Shop, is also home to a complex and competitive retail landscape, not to mention very high expectations from consumers. The UK continues to produce many independent challenger brands and is resilient, creative, and innovative, making it unique on the world stage.

Why did you join CEW UK? Do you have any highlight moments from being part of this?

Since the beginning of my publishing career, I have been a member of various leading industry organisations, and CEW was one of those that Condé Nast encouraged me to get involved in from the start. In my formative years in publishing, CEW gave me valuable insights into the sector and its nuances. It also helped me build a network of contacts within the industry.

Whilst I adored my roles at Condé Nast and was certainly not looking to leave, I had always regretted not getting into the beauty industry. So, when CEW approached me about the new role of Managing Director, my head was turned, as without any direct experience in beauty businesses, it offered an exciting opportunity to take on a new challenge as it approached its 30th anniversary in the UK to build CEW 2.0 which is what we are now rolling out.

Building on the excellent foundations built by Caroline Neville and the previous teams at CEW UK and listening to members of the industry and the highly accomplished CEW Board, we have identified so many opportunities to evolve CEW whilst staying true to our long-established mission of supporting careers and businesses in the sector to thrive and grow. I adore this role and feel like we are only just getting started, so there have been lots of highlights to date.

To name a few, the 80+ webinars we staged between 2020 and 2022 were a considerable achievement, alongside the first CEW Beauty Tech Summit and the industry's first formal Two Way Mentoring Scheme supported by Puig. I'd always have to flag the Beauty Awards too, now in their 19th year, which continue to get bigger every year and then, of course, the Achiever Awards, our H2 flagship event that celebrates achievements and careers in the sector, which is always such a brilliant way to take a moment to appreciate all of the wonderful people we are lucky to work with through the year.

Above all, I am most proud of the hugely positive member feedback regarding the accessibility of CEW UK’s platform, network, and programmes, as delivering pertinent content and connections, relevant for all kinds of beauty businesses, is my overarching aim with all that we do.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the beauty market today?

There continue to be many significant opportunities and challenges in the beauty market, such as the shift towards e-commerce and digital platforms, which gives brands opportunities to engage with a broader audience and offer personalised experiences online.

In addition, consumers are increasingly seeking unique and innovative products, driving brands to differentiate themselves through new formulations, sustainable packaging and ingredients, and technology-driven solutions such as at-home beauty tech and apps. Sustainability remains important to consumers, and brands that prioritise ethical sourcing and practices, sustainable ingredients, and innovative packaging that reduces waste and harm to the planet have an opportunity to gain further share and make positive change.

There also continues to be an essential focus on diversity and inclusion within the beauty industry, presenting an opportunity for brands to cater for a much wider range of people in their product offerings, marketing campaigns, and at point of sale, which is paramount to meeting the evolving needs of today's diverse consumer base and for success.

There are always specific category opportunities, with hair, scalp, and body categories seeing innovation right now, not to mention the convergence of wellness and traditional beauty, which continues to be significant, alongside the medicalisation of beauty and the topic of longevity, which is gaining mainstream attention. These trends reflect shifting consumer attitudes towards holistic well-being and the desire for products that offer both aesthetic and functional benefits.

However, amidst these multiple opportunities lie various challenges. The beauty market is fiercely competitive, with brands constantly vying for consumer attention. Standing out in this crowded landscape requires innovative marketing strategies and a deep understanding of evolving consumer audiences and preferences. There is also the continued awareness of problems such as greenwashing, which result in consumer scepticism, meaning that brands must uphold transparency and ethical practices to build and maintain trust.

Regulatory compliance is another complex area, particularly concerning ingredients, claims, and product safety in local and global markets, and navigating these while ensuring product efficacy and consumer safety demands meticulous attention to detail and investment. Several events have disrupted supply chains in the last three-five years. Whether due to global events or environmental factors, these can impact product availability and production costs, and brands must prioritise resilience and flexibility in their supply chains to mitigate risks and ensure continuity of operations.

While the UK beauty market offers multiple opportunities for growth and innovation, success requires strategic planning, agility, and a steadfast commitment to meeting consumer needs while navigating the challenges of an ever-evolving industry landscape.

What key skills do you need to have as a leader today, in general and in beauty?

If I think about those in leadership positions whom I have worked with directly or admire and who have been or are highly effective and successful, they are empathetic, creative, adaptable, curious, and collaborative. They also allow their teams to be bold and try things without fear of repercussions of failure.

In my opinion, the greatest skill a leader can have is the ability to adapt and tailor their leadership approach to accommodate the needs and preferences of each unique team member. Leadership today requires empathy, adaptability, and a commitment to understanding, respecting, and appreciating the differences that make each generation and team member unique.

Sallie Berkerey at the CEW Achiever Awards, 2023

Why is it important that people pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their careers?

I don't think that everyone should feel under pressure to pursue entrepreneurship or leadership roles, as these are not always the right path. However, in my opinion, people must pursue roles and opportunities that they enjoy and are inspired by, as this keeps us all learning, growing and able to produce the most successful outcomes both professionally and personally.

At CEW, we are fortunate to work with many entrepreneurs and senior leaders, all of whom have had fascinating and varied career journeys. The common trait they all seem to share is that they enjoy continued learning and recognise the importance of a broad network of contacts who have helped them in various ways in their careers and businesses.

How can people be encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their careers?

Naturally, I am going to give you a pitch here to join CEW and attend all our events! But seriously, the more people build meaningful networks, attend events, and educate themselves using academic tools, freely available resources, and essential trade press such as TheIndustry.beauty, the better.

Finding role models can be highly insightful, and seeking mentors and the opportunity to mentor others builds ambition, confidence, skills, and competencies that go far beyond the day-to-day and can lead to career progression and/or the pursuit of entrepreneurial activities.

What are your ambitions as Managing Director of CEW UK?

Our mission is to support individuals and businesses in the sector to thrive and grow, and we will continue to do this via not only the highly successful programmes and initiatives already in place, but also the other things that are in the pipeline.

We have seen a surge in memberships at CEW in the past few years, and my ambition is for us to continue to grow the network, collaborate with more industry partners, and activate meaningful hands-on support and programmes that make a real difference. The feedback we get is that members feel like part of a community, and it is vital to me that the work we are doing remains relevant and has our mission in mind.

I am excited that we can do so much more with our platform and for our members at CEW, and I feel incredibly privileged to be in this seat. I just wish that our team was twice the size and that there were a few more days in the week!

CEW panel discussion

What are the benefits of beauty professionals joining CEW UK?

Launched in the US in 1954 and the UK in 1992, CEW provides beauty industry professionals with a platform for networking, access to valuable insights and resources, and opportunities for learning and professional development, making it a highly beneficial investment in career growth and success.

Day-to-day, we provide a platform for networking and connecting with industry peers, thought leaders, trendsetters, and rising stars in the beauty industry. Our network encompasses individuals from brands, retailers, media outlets, and suppliers, offering ample opportunities for collaboration and business and career advancement, and YES, to answer the number one question we are asked, men can join CEW too!

Throughout the year, we offer valuable insights and resources to members, including curated trends and data reports that provide essential information on beauty, tech, social, and cultural trends. These reports equip members with the knowledge they need to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry. We also host a vast array of events and programmes, providing opportunities for members to learn from industry experts and thought leaders across various topics.

 

In proud partnership with

CEW UK


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