When you know you look good, you tend to feel good, too. Women have understood this tidbit of wisdom for years, and now men are coming around in a big way, which is why Jorge Cosano is pushing L’Oreal to develop a wide range of grooming products to meet their varied needs. "I have my dream job with the company, leading the creation of the L’Oreal USA incubator to develop new men’s businesses," Cosano says. "As the leading beauty company in the world we believe we should help men look their best."
The Wharton MBA grad’s background has prepared him to address this massive untapped market. He began his career at IBM, founded an internet company in his native Spain, and headed the marketing team at Greenpeace before joining L’Oreal, one of the most innovative branding companies in the world. "I have a brain that is right in the middle, very scientific on one side, and creative on the other, so I’ve always been interested in industries that mix art and science," he says.
That balance has served him well in the five years he’s been with L’Oreal, where he’s enjoyed success in a variety of roles. "I have worked for the fragrance division in duty free in Central America, for Giorgio Armani in Paris, for Ralph Lauren Fragrances in New York, and most recently doing the marketing for Kiehl’s for men," he explains. "It’s been a very rewarding career."
Developing and growing L’Oreal’s men’s business is a major undertaking, but Cosano relishes the challenge. "We are just in the first steps of the process, focusing on understanding what men want to look their best," he says. "It will include a holistic approach with different products created around men’s lifestyles – hair, skin, body, shaving, etc. – as we want to help as many men as we can, from the urban artist to the mid-30s executive living outside the city."
When he has some rare downtime, Cosano enjoys the adrenaline rush of boxing, dining at New York’s many great restaurants, and traveling to some of the world’s most picturesque locales. "My latest discovery is Corsica, in France," he says. "It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, with great food and the nicest people – totally recommended."
Here, in his own words, Cosano discusses his eclectic background, ambitious career path, and the secret to his success.
First of all, tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what kinds of things were you interested in as a kid?
I’m originally from Cordoba in Southern Spain, where I grew up until school. Once at school I started to travel and live pretty much everywhere: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dublin, Ireland, etc. I have always had a curious mind and have been fascinated with different people and cultures.
How did your career take shape?
After college I decided I wanted to explore different professional fields, always within entrepreneurial companies. I started in the internet space in 1998 working for IBM, then founded an internet company back in Spain, headed the marketing team at Greenpeace, and worked as a consultant. After earning my MBA at Wharton I wanted to focus on branding and decided to go for probably the most brilliant branding company in the world, L’Oreal.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to embark on a career like yours?
First, be aware of who you are and what drives you. Not everyone is born to be an artist or a banker, so knowing who you are and what you want will help you to be passionate about it. Second, have a curious mind. You need always to embark in new endeavors, observing and thinking about how things could be done better, because maintaining the status quo never leads to success. Last, develop a sense of resilience. When you try to change things, when you try to achieve big goals, it will not be easy along the way. I think that these three skills have definitively helped me in my career so far.
What are your future plans with the men’s grooming division of L’Oreal?
I have just started, so for now my future plans with L’Oreal are around this role with one objective: make L’Oreal a leader in men’s grooming in the US in 10 years from now.
Where do you like to hang out in New York?
My favorite thing about New York and the reason I love this city is its eclectic spirit and contrast. I like some hidden places on the Lower East Side, like Barrio Chino
or the Fat Radish
for a great dinner and drinks. In contrast, I like the Boom Boom Room
for drinks with the best view. For shops, I like Simon Spurr
(it’s not a store yet, but hopefully it will be soon – for now I go to Bloomingdale’s
), and Freeman’s Sporting Club
and the new Kiehl’s
barbershop, of course, where I also get my hair cut. There’s nothing like these man hideaways to escape from the crazy New York life and get pampered as guys used to.