The Road Less Traveled
Nothing replaces hard work. Karen Buglisi Weiler didn’t take the usual route to her high-powered role as Global President of M.A.C. Cosmetics. After graduating high school in Washington D.C., the self-described Army brat (Karen was born in Japan and lived in Hawaii, California and Georgia before settling in D.C. suburb at age 5) started working as a beauty advisor at Hecht’s Department Store. During this time, she got married and had her first son. She worked her way up to department manager and ultimately to cosmetic buyer when one of the brands she had responsibility for, Princess Marcella Borghese, offered her a job. “Even though I didn’t have a formal education, I never felt there was anything I couldn’t do. But I had to work harder than everyone else and be more dedicated and committed and nothing replaces that.” In 1989 Karen joined Revlon, then owner of Borghese and ultimately worked for John Demsey, who had been hired as the brand’s national vice president of sales. It would be a fortuitous business relationship.
Taking the Leap
Tough choices shape your life. After several years with Borghese, Karen decided she wanted something different. And with careful consideration, she resigned, knowing as a single mom of three children—and roughly three months of savings—she’d have to get a job quickly. “It was probably the boldest move I ever made.” Into Week Nine of her savings Karen heard about something at Adipar, which was owned by Escada. “I had an interview with Sharon Connolly, a legend in the industry. I walked into her office and she lights up a cigarette and asks me if the smoke will bother me. I said no, and lit up a cigarette, too. It was a marriage made in heaven.” (Karen is no longer a smoker.)
There Are No ‘Gimmes’
“Do not take your decisions lightly; do not forget the power you have.” Karen joined M.A.C. in 1998 after John Dempsey reached out to ask if she would interview for the position of Vice President of Sales. She got the job and entered a new phase of her professional career. By 2002 she added the Americas to her list of responsibilities and in 2008 she took on Global Commerce and Training. In 2010 she was named Global President M.A.C. Cosmetics. And as she rose through the ranks, Karen learned the importance of decision making, namely keeping distribution in line with M.A.C.’s positioning. “M.A.C. is a limited distribution brand. John constantly states that distribution defines your brand equity. I have placed much importance on making the right distribution decisions so the brand continues to be as viable and productive in the future as it is today. I am also very proud of the talented team that has been built over the years. We are truly a global family.”