Leonard A. Lauder, W'54

2012 Joseph Wharton Award for Lifetime Achievement


Leonard A. Lauder, W'54
Chairman Emeritus, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. 

Leonard A. Lauder is Chairman Emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and is currently the senior member of its Board of Directors. Founded in 1946, the Company is one of the world's leading manufacturers and marketers of quality skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products, with annual sales of $9.7 billion. Its products are sold in over 150 countries and territories across more than 25 well-recognized brand names.

A 1954 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Mr. Lauder also studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He formally joined Estée Lauder in 1958, when it had annual sales of $800,000. Mr. Lauder consistently developed and implemented innovative sales and marketing programs and increased the Company’s sales and profits. He created its first research and development laboratory and brought in professional management on every level. He also initiated The Estée Lauder Companies’ international expansion, which began in 1960 with the opening of the Estée Lauder account at Harrods in London.

Mr. Lauder served as President of The Estée Lauder Companies from 1972 to 1995 and as Chief Executive Officer from 1982 to 1999. He added the title of Chairman in 1995 and served in that role through June 2009. Under his leadership, the Company launched many brands, including Aramis, Clinique, Lab Series Skincare for Men and Origins. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the company also began expanding through acquisitions, including Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone, La Mer and M•A•C.

Mr. Lauder has maintained a strong connection with the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School. He is a long-term trustee of the University and currently holds the position of emeritus trustee. He and his brother, Ronald (W ’65), founded the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies in 1983. Both Mr. Lauder and Ronald Lauder have served as members of the Lauder Institute’s Board of Governors since its founding. In 1996 Mr. Lauder received the University’s Alumni Award of Merit. On the 20th anniversary of the Lauder Institute’s first graduating class in 2006, Mr. Lauder delivered the commencement address at the MBA graduation and was honored with the Dean’s Medal in recognition of his commitment to global business.

In addition, Mr. Lauder is extremely involved in the worlds of art, politics and philanthropy. He became a trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1977 and currently serves as its Chairman Emeritus. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a trustee of The Aspen Institute, Chairman of The Aspen Institute International Committee, and a member of the President’s Council of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. Mr. Lauder served on the Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations under President Ronald Reagan. Included among his honors, he was presented with the National Order of Merit by the French Government, named an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by France and recognized by The United States Navy Supply Corps Foundation with its Distinguished Alumni Award. Most recently, the Lauder Family received the esteemed 2011 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of their longstanding commitment to philanthropy and public service.

Mr. Lauder has two sons, William, Executive Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, and Gary, Managing Director, Lauder Partners LLC, and five grandchildren.