Women Of The C-Suite: “Transparency gives people the psychological freedom they crave” With Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, SVP at Allergan

“Transparency can foster trust and gives people the psychological freedom they crave to perform to their highest, most creative and…

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“Transparency can foster trust and gives people the psychological freedom they crave to perform to their highest, most creative and innovative potential.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt Groupe® and Glamsquad®, and current senior vice president of Consumer Strategy and Innovation at Allergan who last month launched Spotlyte (www.thespotlyte.com), the first venture from the new Allergan-owned digital ventures unit, Project Moonwalker™. Spotlyte is a new innovative digital hub of curated content that helps people discover how aesthetic treatments may fit into their routine. The site will feature well researched editorial, product reviews, insider profiles and the latest in beauty, the site functions as a holistic and informative lens into these worlds. It will be brand agnostic to provide a holistic lens into the category for medical aesthetics. In addition to content, the site will also include a live chat function, as well as the ability to connect readers to a local licensed provider.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

ANS: I love meeting new people, largely because you never know where one conversation can lead you. A little over a year ago, I met a partner at BCG (Boston Consulting Group) to discuss a possible Board role. That conversation, eventually led me to meet Bill Meury, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at Allergan. Bill and Allergan CEO Brent Saunders wanted to create an internal innovation center that would help disrupt the medical aesthetics industry from the inside, something that’s never been done before in the pharma sector. After several conversations, I found myself in a new role, in a new industry, building a new digital ventures unit within Allergan called Project Moonwalker.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

ANS: I started my role as SVP of Consumer Strategy and Innovation at Allergan in February leading Project Moonwalker. Every day has been a new experience. It’s interesting how certain behaviors and conversations within a company or industry become normal. At Gilt, I would frequently visit warehouses scouring for amazing inventory. At GLAMSQUAD, our office was in part a salon and it was very normal for the hairdryers to be going all day long creating a calming buzz throughout the office. Over my past six months at Allergan, I can’t tell you how many live injections and fat freezing treatments I have seen! It’s fascinating to watch firsthand what trained providers can do for consumers!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

ANS: Yes, I actually have the perfect story. Normally, I stay local in New York over Thanksgiving week and lay low, so I got a chemical peel (Vi Peel) for the first time, the Sunday before. Then on that Monday, I was asked if I could interview with Allergan’s Chief Commercial Officer (now my manager) on the Tuesday. If you are not aware, one of the side effects of the peel is that your face is very “peely” for several days! I was so nervous during the interview, not because of the subject matter, but because I was worried that my face might be peeling off! Fortunately, I think I held it together, face intact, or either he didn’t notice or didn’t care, as the job opportunity fortunately worked out in the end and this will be the first time he is hearing about it…

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

ANS: Allergan has the unique opportunity as the industry leader in medical aesthetics to identify and take advantage of emerging cosmetic trends in real time and change the way that consumers engage with the medical aesthetics category. Over 65 million people in the US are considering a variety of medical aesthetic treatments — whether it’s facial injectables, body contouring or breast augmentation. So what’s stopping them from trying? Consumers are facing two barriers: information and access. They want to know: What treatments are right for them? Do the benefits outweigh the risks and costs? How do they go about finding a doctor they can trust? If we can help lower these barriers and address these questions, we can convert first time considerers into users of medical aesthetics treatments. This is what Project Moonwalker is all about and it’s our opportunity to create staggering growth for the sector.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

ANS: We launched our first venture — Spotlyte — on September 12th, with several other ventures to follow. Spotlyte is a new innovative digital hub of curated content that helps first-time considerers discover how medical aesthetic treatments may fit into their routine. The site features well-researched articles, product reviews, insider profiles and the latest in beauty. It functions as a holistic and informative lens into the worlds of beauty and medical aesthetics.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

In August, I wrote an article that I posted on LinkedIn, “Six Ways to Get the Most from Your Workforce.” I actually think my tips are relevant for both female and male leaders. The abbreviated highlights include:

· Recognize that Employees Have Lives Outside of Work.

Happy people will deliver great work. Enable your employees to have a personal life.

· Flexibility.

Each employee may crave different types of flexibility. Talk to your team members to understand what ideal flexibility means to them.

· Childcare.

Be supportive in helping your team members find access to childcare that works for them.

· Assumptions about employee ambition.

Don’t make assumptions based on your own personal biases.

· Career Pace Will Ebb and Flow.

Not all team members will work at the same intensity throughout their career, and that’s ok.

· Transparency.

Transparency can foster trust and gives people the psychological freedom they crave to perform to their highest, most creative and innovative potential.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Be inspiring as a leader. Cultivate a work environment that your team will love. Create clear values that instill pride in your team, and don’t hesitate to articulate behaviors that your team members will not tolerate. Set clear mission and vision statements and post them visibly on the walls for all employees and visitors to see. Don’t micromanage. Delegate. Be present. Be accessible. Make sure each team member has a manageable number of direct reports. Be a role model for others.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I feel fortunate to have had many people to turn to at different stages of my career. I have always had mentors in my parents. Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting leaders who inspire me such as Mindy Grossman and innovators such as Carmen Busquets, both who have become a mentor, a role model and a friend to me.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I care deeply about supporting other entrepreneurs, especially female ones. I hope that in sharing many of the tough lessons that I have learned along the way that I can play some role in increasing the chances of success for others.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

In 2012, I wrote a book with Alexis Maybank, my Gilt co-founder called: “How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop”. In that book I shared some leadership lessons, and 6 years later, I think they still apply:

1. Be the kind of person you’d want to have as a boss.

2. Be willing to learn from your employees.

3. Practice effective communication. There’s no such thing as over-communication.

4. Give junior employees a taste of the top.

5. Go out of your way to be a mentor and to champion people who deserve it.

6. Don’t always keep things professional — have fun with your colleagues outside the office.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

#Mentorboomerang. It would be amazing to start a movement where people can both mentor and be mentored. What goes around comes around. Karma.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Nothing in life has been handed to me. I try to never be complacent. I am goal-oriented. I have worked very hard, ever since I was a little girl. I don’t think there is a substitute for hard work or perseverance.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

@oprah !!!

Originally published at medium.com

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