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My first job was as an assistant buyer in the trend jewelry department at Bloomingdale’s, where I learned that flawless execution across every step of a process is critical to a successful outcome. My job was to help my buyer select products at market week, key in purchase orders, track inventory, replenishment and sell-through. Sometimes I would notice that products we had ordered weren’t selling — only then to  find out that thousands of units had never even made it out to the floor! I remember spending many hours in the stockroom helping store associates find lost boxes and untangling necklaces so we wouldn’t have to damage them out and could put them on the floor for sale. — Vennette Ho, Managing Director, Global Head of Beauty & Personal Care, Raymond James

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I was 15 and worked in a store called Tennis Lady on Madison Avenue, modeling tennis clothes in the window. A man stopped in front of the window, watched for a while, then asked me to come home and shower with him. What I learned? Just say no. — Cathy O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer, Naturopathica Holistic Heath

I began my beauty journey as an intern at Cosmair, before it was L’Oréal USA, in the Beauty Response Center. At the BRC, we tested in-house products with consumers, and I learned the importance of consumer-centricity at every stage of the journey. At the end of the day, the consumer is boss, drives the cash register and needs to be at the heart of any good marketing strategy. This beginning turned into a 16-year career chapter with L’Oréal, building lifelong relationships in the industry that I tremendously value today. — Tennille Kopiasz, Chief Executive Officer, Blue Mistral: Fekkai & Bastide

I started as a retail management and sales intern at Nordstrom in the Indie and Dresses department. This role is where I caught the “retail bug” and learned firsthand the power of customers; nothing compares to interacting with customers directly! While I’ve since moved to the merchant side, every day I still draw on the customer obsession that I picked up on the Nordstrom sales floor. — Christina Tran, Head of Business Development, Amazon Beauty

While my very first job was as a babysitter where I learned the importance of having patience, my first corporate beauty role was as a secretary at Revlon, the entry point into the industry at that time, and where I fell in love with beauty. Although I had an admin role, I volunteered for any marketing project, which paid off as I was offered a marketing coordinator role within 12 months and was promoted three times in four years. I learned so many lessons, including the importance of being resourceful and curious, to go over and above what is asked, bring a notebook everywhere with you, the power of networking and, of course, love what you do. — Lori Singer, President, Parlux Ltd.

Working for my dad’s accounting firm during high school. I had the toughest manager, and I quickly learned that being my father’s daughter made no difference. Being thorough, consistent, curious and dedicated is what made me successful. I followed those principles throughout my career. — Marthina Sochodolak, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Dyson

My very first profession was in secondary education as a math teacher. I loved sharing my passion for math with my students, especially those who otherwise might not be confident in the subject. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing someone build confidence that they can learn and achieve. I still rely on and use many of the communication, creative and mentoring skills I learned in education, and still take a lot of pride in helping my teams learn and build confidence in the business of beauty. — Stephanie Headley, Senior Vice President, Global Olay and North America Skin Care