As Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Tracey T. Travis is responsible for Global Finance, Accounting, Investor Relations, Information Technology, and Strategy and New Business Development with The Estée Lauder Companies. She co-leads the Global Value Council and is a member of the Executive Leadership Team and the Investment Development Committee.
Ms. Travis currently serves as a director on the Board of Accenture PLC. She has been recognized by Treasury and Risk magazine as one of the “Top 25 Women in Finance” and one of the “100 Most Influential People in Finance,” has been honored with a Best CFO award by Institutional Investor magazine and was named one of the “Top 100 African-Americans in Corporate America,” as well as “The Most Powerful Women in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine. In 2019, she was honored with an Achiever Award by Cosmetic Executive Women.
Q. What obstacles have you had to overcome to achieve success?
Earlier in my career, as often one of the only women (and women of color) in traditionally male-dominated fields, I always felt like I had something to prove – and the proof level for me felt different than that for others. This ongoing challenge to constantly “prove myself” fueled my drive and determination: I focused on ensuring that I was the absolute best in the areas that I worked in, whether it was Engineering, Finance, Information Technology or General Management. I worked hard to be the most knowledgeable and the most prepared, bring the most to the table and importantly, drive the best results and outcomes. Ultimately, this is what has helped me succeed and overcome various obstacles throughout my career, often when the odds were not in my favor.
Q. Just like success, people define and measure power differently. Some define it by dollar amount, while others measure it on a greater, more personal and internal level. What does Power mean to you?
Power means not only having a vision but having the ability to influence those around you to align with and support your vision. This cannot be done without integrity, authenticity, empathy for others and an orientation to deliver great results for the team. With this Power, it’s critical that leaders focus on pushing and pulling others with diverse perspectives and experiences up the ladder with them.
Q. Given your platform and success, how do you demonstrate your responsibility to help inspire others? Be it through your real-life actions, social media, etc.?
I focus on spending time where I believe that I can make the most impact. I’m passionate about ensuring that we continue to “pay it forward” and mentor and coach young talent and minorities to reach their potential. At The Estée Lauder Companies, I’ve partnered with other senior women to create the Women’s Leadership Network, an employee resource group with the mission of supporting, encouraging and engaging women at the company to reach their full potential to emerge as true leaders – both personally and professionally.
Q. How do you ensure that you stay “charged up,” in both the inspiration/motivation sense, as well as physically, in energy?
I have a passion for what I do that keeps me charged up. I also have a wonderful support network of family, friends, and colleagues that keep me motivated. And certainly, my faith keeps me charged up and motivated.
I’m also a strong believer in the strict prioritization of my time and the necessity of fun. I love the theater, jazz concerts and reading. I exercise regularly, and take ‘recovery’ days, usually in the middle of the week when needed, to visit a spa or read a good book! We all need to “wind down” in order to “wind back up.”
Last, but certainly not least, I have my coffee – and lots of it!
Q. Long after you retire, what would you like your legacy to be?
I would hope my legacy inspires other young women to have the confidence that they can achieve their potential, and do it with passion, discipline and integrity.
And my two beautiful daughters who are intelligent, compassionate, determined and successful as they define success – that will be my ultimate legacy.