Executive Q&A: Scott White, CEO of New Avon
This week, we feature The World of Direct Selling’s second “Executive Q&A”. This time, Scott White is our guest. Before joining New Avon, the privately-owned Avon business in North America, Scott worked for Procter and Gamble and Abbott Nutrition. He has been with New Avon since April 2016.
Could you tell us about your education?
I hold an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Miami University of Ohio, where I also serve on the Business Advisory Council to the Farmer School of Business.
What was your childhood dream?
On any given day, it ranged from wanting to be a long distance truck driver to a doctor. Reflecting back now, I am grateful that my parents were equally encouraging with those dreams, and any others that I wanted to pursue. They encouraged me and my siblings to be great at whatever we chose. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and motivated me to do the best I could at what I was most passionate about.
What were your past experiences before your current role at New Avon?
I started my career working in a pulp mill in South Georgia, before eventually launching a marketing career at Procter & Gamble. P&G was my first experience working in women’s brands, and I eventually spent over 15 years at the company growing and learning in numerous brand management roles. Soon after I went to work at Abbott Labs in Nutrition, developing nutritional products for infants, toddlers and adults. It was a very rewarding experience to make such a positive impact on those families. I am grateful New Avon provides me the opportunity to continue pursuing powerful, purpose-driven work. Today, I am entrusted with such an incredible legacy of empowering women and a commitment to helping change their lives.
What do you attribute your career success to most?
I attribute my success to how I was raised by my parents. They had a balanced household where we were taught and expected to cut the lawn and wash the car, cook and clean, do the dishes and iron, and to do all of these things well. We were encouraged to be agile, learn new things and adapt and learn from others.
What has been your most inspiring moment?
One of my most inspiring moments with Avon was hosting our first annual Representative sales convention this past summer, which attracted nearly 5,000 attendees. I had the privilege of meeting incredible Avon Representatives – each one has such an inspiring story of success.
Some Representatives have paid off their mortgages, others have sent their children to school. Others have left their full time jobs to lead a team of Avon Representatives. And the impacts are beyond financial – so many of our Representatives have experienced personal development. Many have learned entrepreneurial skills to be success business owners, and many have overcome significant insecurities to gain the confidence needed to run a business. Countless Representatives have transformed their lives – and the lives of their families – through the Avon opportunity.
Any spare time I can find is spent with my family and friends! I also particularly enjoy seasonal sports. In winter, I’m an avid skier and love being outdoors to enjoy the beauty of mountains and nature. When it’s warm, I love to play golf – not well, but always working on improving my game!
How would you describe being a direct selling executive to an outsider?
I can tell you that nothing is as professionally and personally rewarding as working in direct selling – a channel that is growing year after year. We have such a powerful personal connection with our Avon Representatives to help her grow her business. When she wins, we win. And our Representatives have powerful connections with their customers.
There is no retailer that knows the first names of every single one of their customers like our Avon Representatives do. Prior to Avon, my background was working for brands distributed through retail channels – and our number one challenge was developing a close, personal relationships with our customers. In the direct selling channel, relationships are the ultimate competitive advantage.
What is your biggest achievement at New Avon?
The feeling that we are reenergizing and motivating this organization to put the success of our Representatives first. Giving the amazing women who choose Avon the tools, best products, training and support they need to be the best Representative to customers. In turn they will have successful businesses, increase earnings and become loyal, long term Representatives within our inspiring community. Getting an organization to think externally is rewarding – and while we are still at the beginning of that success, I feel excited and inspired for our future.
And your biggest challenge at a direct selling company executive role?
Re-building this company while staying true to its iconic heritage requires hard work and collaboration. We’ve asked Representatives and Associates to challenge themselves to transform along with us. Some changes they will love, others will make them uncomfortable, but at the end of the day we are building a culture of transparency, agility and accountability. Specifically, we are holding ourselves accountable for each of our Representatives and their families. We are keeping our Representatives at the center of every decision we make – which is helping to build trust, understanding and also confidence in the changes that are being made.
What would be your best advice to those who are thinking of joining a direct sales company at a corporate role?
It’s an exciting and transformational time to be in direct selling. There’s been a dramatic shift in the last three decades in the ways we communicate, socialize, consume media and purchase goods. At the same time, how we do business has also evolved. Leaders looking to join a direct selling company should feel empowered to take risks and challenge the status quo. Our greatest privilege and responsibility is shaping the future of the industry – for both growth of our company, and importantly, for the success of our Representatives.