Engaged executives are essential to how a business is run and are key to its success. Engagement is the outcome of a great company culture and the unlocking of staff potential to drive higher performance. Hannah Terrett, Regional Education Director Asia Pacific at Benefit Cosmetics, believes that communication is the cornerstone of engagement. “I pride myself on my excellence in communication, leadership and creativity”, she says.
Born and raised in Sydney, Terrett reveals she has always been interested in beauty. “I wanted to be a teacher, but sort of fell into cosmetics because helping women to feel good about themselves encapsulates that element. I undertook makeup artistry and beauty therapy courses when I left school and worked part-time in retail”.
But skincare provided Terrett’s entry into the beauty industry. “I did an apprenticeship with Ella Bache in the early Noughties, rising to become an Area Salon Manager. The job involved training and management. I loved helping people improve their skin and enjoyed the strong customer focus. The position intensified my interest in business and I enrolled in a commerce degree at University of NSW”.
Following her studies Terrett took a gap year travelling throughout Europe and the UK. “When I returned I saw an ad on seek.com.au for a position with Benefit Cosmetics. They were looking for someone with beauty and management experience. Justin Fullerton, the General Manager at the time, met me in a local pub in Paddington and made me wax his eyebrows on the spot. It was my first experience of how Benefit likes to do things left of centre”.
After passing the baptism of fire test, Terrett became the boutique manager of Benefit’s Sydney flagship store. “It was 2006 and the brand was expanding very quickly. My role grew to involve many disciplines from training through recruitment, sales reporting, marketing, forecasting and eventing”.
Terrett was appointed Field Sales & Education Manager, East Coast, in 2008, covering the key territory of NSW, ACT and QLD. “Benefit is a global brand with a unique DNA and way of doing things. My new role involved building relationships in retail, notably with our department store partner Myer. After two years in the position, I moved into a role that meshed with my original ambition to be a teacher. I was appointed National Training, Events & Promotions Manager. At that time, I had been with Benefit for five years and we had expanded to 25 doors and a presence in every major state”.
It’s an amazing experience being involved with a company from startup status to a full corporate brand. “We still have the same passion we did at the beginning and we’ve stayed true to our quirky image along the way. The type of personnel we recruit have to have one thing in common – they want constant change. Yet it’s still possible to tailor communication, recognition and development to the unique motivational drivers of each employee”.
Benefit is a very service-oriented brand and it’s a non-negotiable to stay ahead of the pack, says Terrett. “Our brand is built on services such as our famous brow bar. I helped to create the Benefit Beauty University – BBU – and I am proud that it was an Australian initiative. We now have a very strong education department, training materials and superior content creation”.
From 2012 to 2017, Terrett built to the role of National Education & Training Manager for Australia and New Zealand. “Benefit is the acknowledged brow authority and National Brow Artist was
added to my job description. The media landscape had become a lot bigger with the arrival of the first wave of influencers. I became a spokesperson and we really re-focused our attention on social media to get the message across about the huge difference perfect brows make to the face”.
Terrett believes that the motivational culture at Benefit helps to retain employees. “Many young people today focus too much on lateral progression. They tell you they want to be a CEO before they have built up any experience. In my 12 years at Benefit, I have acquired broad-based skills and knowledge across sectors that has given me a deep insight into the needs of any business – from managing large teams of staff, budget management, public speaking and sustaining key retailer relationships”.
In August 2017, Terrett became Regional Education Director Asia Pacific for Benefit. “My remit covers seven countries in addition to Australia and New Zealand – China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and India. Beauty is universal but it’s important to understand cultural differences. Visiting a Sephora store in China, for example, is an eye-opener and underscores the differences between eastern and western markets. Benefit is still growing strongly in all Asia/Pacific markets and my job involves supporting and training executives and staff. When everyone in an organisation thinks you care about them as people, they are more motivated to take company values on board and intensify their focus on customer satisfaction”.
Giving back is a strong personal motivator. Hannah volunteers with LGFB and Fitted for Work. Benefit searches for the right people and invests in them to reach their full potential. And there’s few better examples of the success of the strategy than herself.