How’d you get your job in the cosmetic industry? With M. at MAC Cosmetics

A friend who works in the Research and Development team at MAC Cosmetics was kind enough to speak to me about her experience working at the company. 

I think her story is a great example of what hard work, putting yourself out there, quick learning, and dedication can achieve! 

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What was your education and work background before your current job?

Honours Science Degree – B.Sc at the University of Waterloo

Did you want to work in the cosmetic industry?

I love lipstick and all, but never ever once imagined myself working for MAC Cosmetics. I was initially looking into healthcare.

How long have you been employed in the cosmetic industry?

Almost a year full-time!

What is your role at MAC?

I am a Lab Technician for the Outside Vendor group at the Canadian Innovation Centre. I deal with third parties to launch products through MAC.

What did you do yesterday at work?

I am working on launching shade extensions of existing products. There are many tests that the products must go through before it launches, therefore I observe stability of various products while keeping a record of results and any issues that arise.

What sort of projects do you work on?

As I am just under a year with Estee Lauder (which, by the way, owns MAC), I am currently assigned to shade extensions which must be released within deadlines. Fragrance changes, fading opportunities, new colours – all must be re-tested. After more experience, I hope to take on new products that have never launched before.

Do you see yourself moving around in the company? What sort of position would you like to be in, if not this one?

Currently my position has given me a lot of knowledge about the world of cosmetics at MAC. I am also taking the initiative to learn as much as I can  – attending vendor meetings (effects of new raw materials), and attending workshops to improve personal skills like public speaking, time management, and more! I am definitely interested in the Product Development or Marketing side of this fascinating industry.

Besides your own job, what other interesting jobs do you see within the company?

Marketing is something that intrigues me, just because there are so many aspects to it. To be a successful global company like Estee Lauder, making consumers of the over 15+ brands it owns is tough – but a challenge I would like to be a part of (well to start off at least…with MAC).  As a millennial, it’s easy to see the power of social media and what factors really influence consumers to purchase a product.

Biggest perk of working at MAC?

SEEING PRODUCTS MANY MONTHS BEFORE IT HITS THE COUNTER!

Just joking (not really).

Employees are given an appreciation bag of goodies, but more than the physical items, I would say working in the small R&D Lab has given me more exposure and opportunities than I had imagined. I am surrounding with chemists who have been with the company for 10+ years, launched magnificent products for MAC, and are still working for months to develop the next best thing – being in the presence of that itself is a treat for me.

What would you suggest to someone who’s currently an undergrad who wants to work in the cosmetic industry? How did you find out about the job you have now?

How did I get here? I worked production for 3 months one summer – no interest in the cosmetic world I just needed some cash. A year later I was finishing my finals of my last semester at University when my ex-supervisor emailed me about a cleaning position at the R&D Lab. I had told her when I left to give me a heads up if any lab position opened up, this definitely was not the one I had envisioned – I took it.

My number one advice for many post grads is to let go of their ego and get ready to do the dirty work first. I worked out of the cleaning position, as a chemist had seen potential and became an assistant. After 2 months, a chemist handed me a job posting that I did not have access to at the time. With zero experience I was hesitant to apply, but I did it. I interviewed for the Lab Tech position with no experience, but a lot to promise if I had gotten it. The smallest life choices can get you somewhere you never expected.

You’ve mentioned you came in from a non-chemistry degree, how do you think this has helped you adapt to your current role?

I would like to become a Chemist in the future, but I have yet a lot to learn about formulating. Sometimes opportunities are thrown at you when you least expect it, that’s the time to take charge and make it work with extra time if needed. As long as you know the basics of Chemistry, the rest will be taught by senior mentors and experience. There are new things I am learning every day, and that’s the beauty of it all.  

How’d you get your job in the cosmetic industry? With Kaci at Estée Lauder

One of the major concerns people have when thinking about working within the cosmetic industry is a lack of a chemistry degree.

While I won’t say it doesn’t help, there are plenty of positions available to people in the industry that aren’t dependent on a knowledge of chemistry.

Roles in sales, distribution, marketing, logistics are all available. Pretty much any position you’d find at any other large transnational, you can find within the cosmetic industry.

What was your education and work background before your current job?  

Before starting at Estée, I was working at a Microbiology Food Laboratory.

Did you want to work in the cosmetic industry?  

My interests were mainly biological/scientific and computer technology. I was always fascinated by science even though half the time I didn’t understand it. Never would I have ever thought about looking for work in the cosmetic industry until I started at Estée Lauder.

How long have you been employed in the cosmetic industry?

Come April 2016, I will be with the company for 1 year.

What is your role at Estée Lauder?  

When I first started with Estée Lauder, I started as a Technical Administrative Assistant. A few months later my position merged with that of Formula Control. We basically handle releasing the methods of process and materials, etc to the manufacturing plants once a project is ready for production.

What did you do yesterday at work?  

Yesterday I had a lot of troubleshooting issues where the plants were not seeing specific data in the designated systems so I had to work alongside planners, brand reps, etc. to figure out what was causing the issue.

What sort of projects do you work on?  

I still take on duties from my initial position. I review documents for projects that are considered either “over-the-counter” or “quasi drug” and work alongside our drug compliance team and assure that the documents are up to good documentation practice standards.

Do you see yourself moving around in the company? What sort of position would you like to be in, if not this one?

I definitely do see myself taking on more tasks and responsibilities within the company and definitely see myself in my current position for years to come because it’s an essential position where I work side by side with engineers and chemists. After all, that is where the product first starts being created.

Besides your own job, what other interesting jobs do you see within the company?

The position of the drug compliance team is one that interests me. The FDA is ever-changing their rules and regulations and in turn keeps us on our toes to make sure we are compliant with whatever regulations and changes are being set both here in the U.S. and globally at our sister facilities.

Biggest perk of working at Estée Lauder?

The biggest perk to me working at Estée Lauder is the education you get out of it. The way you witness the startup of a project to product and how it works and the work that goes into it is just something personally I feel is a big perk. As the saying goes “You learn something new every day” and I like to think that’s definitely something that takes place every day a Estée Lauder.

What would you suggest to someone who’s currently an undergrad who wants to work in the cosmetic industry?

I would suggest to those who are contemplating to work in the cosmetic industry to be patient, have tough skin. It’s a competitive business but also a great one to be in for its ever changing culture.

I would also recommend for those who aren’t into trends or what’s hot and what’s not to at least consider taking a look into trends. Being that you are in the cosmetic industry and trend setting is one of the many main concepts it’s involved in.

How’d you get your job in the cosmetic industry? With Dan at Estée Lauder

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “How do I get a job in the cosmetic industry?”. I thought the best way to answer this was to interview people within the industry and let them share their background, experience, and how they got where they are.

My first interview is with Dan, a process engineer at Estée Lauder.

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Formulations created at a small scale, such as a beaker, can often encounter problems when scaled up to production size.

A process engineer’s role is to help foresee these problems and troubleshoot them – ensuring that the formula looks and functions the same at any production level.

What was your education background?

Chemical engineering

Did you want to work in the cosmetic industry?

I majored in chemical engineering because I like chemistry and I wanted a job in the consumer goods industry (specifically food). It did not cross my mind that I could be a chemical engineer in the cosmetic industry initially. But I was exposed to chemical engineering opportunities in the cosmetic industry through my college’s alumni network and was immediately hooked on the idea.

How long have you been employed in the cosmetic industry?

7 months to date

What is your role at Estée Lauder?

Process engineer

What did you do yesterday at work?

Refreshed my knowledge of our up-scale methods in a class taught by a Vice President of the Engineering Department. Worked with a formulating chemist to discuss the next phase of up-scaling a formula for market launch.

What sort of projects do you work on?

My focus is scaling up skin-care products like moisturizers, toners, masks, cremes, SPFs, acne treatments, etc.

Do you see yourself moving around in the company? What sort of position would you like to be in, if not this one?

DEFINITELY. I chose to work for a large company for the option to move around and explore different departments. I see myself learning the business and joining the marketing team.

Besides your own job, what other interesting jobs do you see within the company?

Marketing, supply chain, innovation, and corporate strategy

Biggest perk of working at

Estée Lauder?

Industry exposure, technical and business knowledge training, and future opportunity

What would you suggest to someone who’s currently an undergrad who wants to work in the cosmetic industry?

Be flexible in your job search. Unfortunately, HR functions very slowly. Patience is key. Keep in touch with all your career contacts. I got my job because a neighbor struck up a random conversation with my father and happened to know someone who worked at Estée. Any connection, no matter how random, can land you that dream job.