Karen Buglisi, Global President, M.A.C. Cosmetics, shares with Beauty Insider her start in the beauty industry, a perfect workday and how she stays focused in today’s social media-obsessed world.

BI: Growing up, were you one of those go-getters with a game plan, or did your ambition kick in later?
My ambition kicked in much later. In fact, to this day, I’m not sure I ever had a ‘game plan’, but I’ve always been driven by a strong vision of what could be accomplished.

BI: What’s the smartest career advice you received and how have you applied it?
That’s hard as the advice I’ve received has been so plentiful and meaningful over the years. I had Judy Harrison at Hecht’s. She was my boss and a really smart lady. I admired her a lot. Also, there was Dominic Pisani at Princess Marcella Borghese, which is where I went after Hecht’s. It was a big step and reshaped my career trajectory. And that is where I met John Demsey, who ultimately would be the biggest influencer in my professional life, or, in other words, a mentor. A mentor should be smarter and more experienced than you, someone you can really trust who will not only give you critical guidance and advice, but also a soft place to fall. You’re lucky if you have that. It makes all the difference.

BI: How did you wind up in beauty?
I started selling at a department store [Hecht’s] in a suburb of Washington D.C. That led to various management spots and ultimately to a buying position in cosmetics.

BI: Describe a perfect workday.
Any day I can devote to actions that will move the mark, whether it’s visiting a market or having strategic conversations with the team or hosting roundtables, breakfasts, Town Halls, or global meetings where I can understand the passion that exists around this brand. As you can tell, a perfect day can take many different shapes and turns. I have many perfect days and many that are near perfect.

BI: Over the course of your career, what big skillsets have you had to gain that you didn’t anticipate?
You’re in a constant state of negotiation and how your ability to understand what is a win/win scenario more times than not, and how critical that is to success.

BI: How do you stay focused?
I look at my calendar in six months buckets and allocate time based on strategic priorities. I understand where my presence is truly needed and know that not every meeting needs to be an hour. It’s not easy but it’s the only way to survive with so many demands.

BI: What educational path do you think yields the best opportunities in beauty?
Any and all education is extremely meaningful. It can come in many different forms, whether it’s courses in business or marketing, or experience in various positions and levels. There’s valuable experience gained by working your way up the ladder. That’s what I did, and the knowledge I obtained along the way is priceless.

Karen is one of 4 Achievers in the 2012 CEW Achiever Awards. Click here to register to attend the Achiever Awards Luncheon on November