People to Watch 2020: Leanne Hug

Company: Coty Inc.

Title: Team Lead, Trade Marketing - CoverGirl

Age: 29

Education: University of Maryland, College Park (bachelor’s, marketing and supply chain management; minor, leadership studies); Fashion Institute of Technology (masters of professional studies, cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management)

Leanne Hug was business-minded from an early age. Her mom, who had a 30-year career at Hanes, worked from a home office and instilled in her a curiosity about corporate life. Hug knew her passion resided in marketing and being able to communicate with consumers to help drive purchase decisions, but she was also curious about supply chain operations because of her love for analytics, process and efficiencies. It was that foundation, combined with various leadership roles and being on the University of Maryland’s women’s club basketball team, that helped her carve her own path.

“It’s always been important for me to take on leadership roles and challenge myself a bit,” Hug says. “I learned how to manage a team, manage a budget and deal with conflict.” Her experiences throughout college propelled her into Unilever’s Future Leaders Program, an accelerated management rotational program that provided cross-functional exposure, business mentoring, project involvement and formal training both nationally and internationally.

Over three years, she took on six different roles spanning the sales and marketing functions. She lived in three different U.S. cities (Chicago, New York and Bentonville, Arkansas) and abroad in London, which was an opportunity she made the most of both personally and professionally, she says. And while she initially transitioned into work at Unilever after completing the program, she couldn’t pass up the chance to move into the beauty industry, working as a customer marketing manager on Sally Hansen at Coty for more than two years before becoming the brand’s team lead for trade marketing. Just over a year ago, she moved to the CoverGirl brand in the same capacity.

As team lead, Hug builds and implements in-market commercial strategies across all classes of trade, driving brand and category growth and delivering promotional plans that achieve maximum efficiency, brand impact and profitability. “My team, which is comprised of four direct reports, is responsible for partnering with our customer teams to bring to life the national marketing plans and execute 360-degree launch activations behind our big bets,” she says. Her team is also responsible for driving 4P strategy with a heightened focus on pricing and promotional efficiencies. “The beauty of trade is the true marriage of creativity of marketing with the analytics of sales and really getting to see innovation bundles come to life.”

The launch of Clean Fresh, CoverGirl’s new vegan foundation portfolio, has been a rewarding project for Hug. “To be able to bring this hybrid skincare/makeup launch to the CoverGirl brand was really exciting,” she says, noting that during the spring of 2020, it was the No. 1 foundation launch in the category.

Another very proud moment in her career came this spring when she completed her masters’ degree.

Coty nominated and sponsored Hug through the Masters of Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing Management program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, which is considered the think tank of innovation and leadership in the beauty industry. “As part of the program, my cohort completed our capstone research on the “Future State of Wellbeing” in the U.S., a timely topic given what’s going on around us with COVID-19,” she says. “I’m so incredibly proud of the cohort for not only completing our degrees via remote learning but also for the research completed and presented back to the industry.”