Harper Business Books: Setting the Agenda on Work, Leadership, and Growth

Meet the Author: Leonard A. Lauder

Author Bio and Details

Author Photo

Leonard A. Lauder was born in 1933 in New York City, where he grew up and helped his mother as she founded what would become the Estée Lauder Companies business out of the family’s kitchen.

After proudly serving in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant and later a Navy reservist, Mr. Lauder officially joined the Company in 1958. He focused on growing the business and building the company’s research and development laboratory. Proving himself an industry pioneer and true business innovator, Mr. Lauder served as President from 1972 to 1995, CEO from 1982 to 1999, Chairman from 1995 to 2009, and, finally, as Chairman Emeritus. In over five decades of leadership, he transformed the Company from a small brand with eight products sold in one country, to a multi-brand, beloved global icon.

Mr. Lauder was married to Evelyn H. Lauder (founder, Breast Cancer Research Foundation) from 1959 until she passed away in 2011. They had two sons, William (executive chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies) and Gary (managing director, Lauder Partners LLC), and five grandchildren.

On January 1, 2015, Mr. Lauder married Judy Glickman Lauder, a philanthropist and internationally recognized photographer whose work is represented in more than 300 public and private collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the United States Holocaust Museum.

While Mr. Lauder served many roles during his tenure at the company, he is especially proud of his present role as the company’s “Chief Teaching Officer"—believing that a company’s wealth is its people.

Art & Community Involvement

In addition to extensive work at The Estée Lauder Companies, Mr. Lauder has dedicated his life to making the world a better place through his passion and generosity to education, art, foreign policy, and philanthropy. Mr. Lauder serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Believing that art should be shared with the world, he is one of the museum’s most significant benefactors, giving a milestone gift to its endowment in 2008 and helping the Whitney acquire 948 works of art, 760 of which he gifted personally. He has also made significant contributions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including his donation of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures. In concert with his donation, he helped establish the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, a center dedicated exclusively to promoting modern art within an encyclopedic museum.

Mr. Lauder has vowed to discover a cure to Alzheimer’s disease, and with his brother Ronald S. Lauder, is the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Since the passing of his wife Evelyn in 2011, he has also worked to carry on her legacy in the fight against breast cancer as honorary chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and as a significant supporter of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A lifelong learner and foreign policy advocate, he is a Charter Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, a Trustee of The Aspen Institute, and also served on the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations to President Reagan.

Recognition

Among Mr. Lauder’s many honors are the Légion d’Honneur, the “Lone Sailor” Award, given by the United States Navy Supply Corps Foundation, the Women’s Leadership Award, and the Palazzo Strozzi Renaissance Man of the Year Award. The Lauder family received the esteemed 2011 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of its long-standing commitment to philanthropy and public service. In 2014, Mr. Lauder was named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Mr. Lauder and Ms. Glickman Lauder received the Gordon Parks Foundation Patron of the Arts Award in 2016.

Books by Leonard A. Lauder

The Company I Keep

My Life in Beauty

Book cover image: The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty

The chairman emeritus and former CEO of The Estée Lauder Companies, Leonard A. Lauder, shares the business and life lessons he learned while turning the mom-and-pop company his mother founded into a multi-billion-dollar empire.  More »