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The BoF Podcast | Sue Y. Nabi on How Being Different Is a Superpower

On the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Coty CEO Sue Y. Nabi shares how embracing identity in the workplace can lead to better business outcomes.
The BoF Podcast | Sue Y. Nabi on How Being Different Is a Superpower
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Background:

As one of the industry’s most visible transgender leaders, Sue Y. Nabi, chief executive of beauty conglomerate Coty, is well-versed in the transformative power of identity. In 2020, she was named the company’s fifth CEO in five years and was tasked with leading its turnaround. Then, the Kylie Cosmetics and Covergirl owner was plagued with debt and inefficiencies.

Since Nabi took the reins, however, sales have started to climb back up steadily: full-year revenue was up 14 percent year-over-year in 2022. Nabi laid the groundwork for growth by doubling down on prestige and expansion in China — focusing especially on excavating the strengths and purposes of each brand in the conglomerate’s portfolio.

“When you look at others, you forget where you are and you make all the mistakes… The world is full of copycats. Difference is not only a chance, but in business, it’s an asset,” said Nabi.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Nabi joins Mory Fontanez, founder of consultancy 822 Group, to share how embracing identity in the workplace and aligning personal and professional values can strengthen a business.

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Key Insights:

  • Nabi’s father, a painter, helped inform her understanding of beauty. “There is the conventional, classical beauty, and there is the different one — the one that also speaks to us a lot,” said Nabi.
  • Being unique in business is a tangible asset that can create new opportunities, according to Nabi. As well, staying in touch with your intuition — not just data points — can help leaders make intelligent decisions.
  • In both personal and professional spheres, Nabi’s definition of transformation centres on addition, rather than subtraction or erasure.
  • In a fast-paced world, people can feel pressure to make decisions quickly, but having patience and conversations is the way to finding enduring solutions to problems of all kinds.

Additional Resources:

  • BoF VOICES 2022: Live Your Best Life: In the final session of BoF’s annual gathering, speakers from model Dennis Okwera and Coty chief Sue Y. Nabi to Nike’s Larry Miller and activist Malala Yousafzai reflected on their personal histories and inner powers.
  • How to Create an Inclusive Workplace: Employees who feel comfortable and engaged make for a more productive and innovative workforce. Here’s how to make meaningful change in your company.

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