Cindy’s circuitous route to Estée Lauder was a combination of hard work, networking, and incredible timing and luck. She was a journalism major, minoring in fashion design and dance, got married, and ended up starting a landscape company with her husband. Every winter, they would shut down that business and she would “put my suit back on, and go working as a temp. It kept me current.” That led her to a PR job at the Stamford Center for the Arts, which connected her to a job as director of catering sales at a hotel. (“I told the GM, ‘I don’t know anything about hotel sales,’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll teach you.’”) Then, whom did she reconnect with but her original boss from her temp days, who was now at Gartner, and who offered her a position as director of
So Shumate stepped into the position at the very moment that the company had submitted RFPs for new travel agencies throughout the USA and Europe—and she led those changes. When the position was eliminated a couple of years later, she found herself at a travel industry Christmas event “and one of the gals there asked me to meet her later that week in New York City. She wouldn’t even tell me who the job was with.” The company was Estée Lauder and, of course, she nabbed it.
EVOLUTION Early on, procurement had come forward and indicated interest in taking on meeting purchasing. Shumate felt strongly that meetings are one-off negotiations and needed to be under the umbrella of corporate travel, supported by the preferred-hotel relationships already in place. She won. Among her many other contributions: She brought in SMMP technology, created a standard meeting contract addendum, and expanded the travel department internationally, hiring people in the EMEA and APAC regions.
LOOKING AHEAD Shumate recently left Estée Lauder and is taking advantage of the season to work on her now award-winning landscape design business. “It’s a very exciting time. I feel so blessed. I am looking for the next challenge.”
ADVICE “Networking, this is the strongest asset anyone has. Pay attention to possibilities. And think big even if you don’t have the answer at this moment.”
AHA! MOMENT To get the attention of Estée Lauder senior management early on, Shumate did a presentation to the executive team. “When I got there, the company was using over 150 travel agencies and booking Web sites, and everyone was operating pretty much in their silos. But they were smart enough to have already introduced a meeting card. So I walked into that meeting with one number under my belt from the meeting card and said, ‘This is what we spend on meetings.’ I had one number. And when they realized they were spending $14 million on meetings, many of which were being planned by admins, and that this was just the tip of the iceberg, I got the buy-in to start an SMMP. I remember William Lauder was there and he got it. Not only was he excited about the visibility into how many meetings the company was supporting, he realized there were all these costs he didn’t even know about.” - Barbara Scofidio