CEW: Why is CEW membership important to you?
Rukeyser Thompson: While I have been a member of CEW for three years, my why became clear when I was delivering my acceptance speech as a 2018 CEW Top Talent Award Honoree. I was recognized for my work on Pantene Gold Series, which is a product line developed for the curly/coily hair needs of black women who have often been made to feel that their black is not beautiful. The recognition by CEW for the impact of this work—and consumer—is powerful and shows their commitment to celebrating beauty in all its diverse hues and textures.
CEW: Do you have any tips for getting the most out of CEW membership?
RT: Be active and engaged. You get out of anything what you put into it. Lean in to something that feels uncomfortable, and embrace the learning journey. Make a realistic commitment. I do not live in NYC where most CEW events are held, but I’ve chosen and committed to attend three events a year. One was the Connected Consumer event. I learned so much that I was able to take away and immediately reapply for my global work on Herbal Essences. The final event I attended for 2018 was the Cancer and Careers Beauty of Giving event.
CEW: What is the most exciting aspect of your current role?
RT: I currently have global product innovation responsibilities for the Herbal Essences brand. In May, we announced our global partnership with the The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which is incredibly exciting because they are the world’s leading authority on plants. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some exciting projects for Herbal Essences with Kew that show the brand’s commitment to sourcing the best botanicals for our consumers, while also helping them navigate the often confusing landscape of naturals in beauty.
CEW: How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
RT: I am an avid baker, power walker, community servant, lacrosse mom, STEM mom and motivational speaker. In all these areas, I’m always trying to figure out how to be better, do more. Anyone’s child who has spent time with me has ended up in the kitchen baking from scratch oatmeal double chocolate chip cookies. I recently took a class on how to make the best chocolate chip cookies because I wanted to see what I can learn to help me improve an already well-loved cookie. Life, especially during the holidays, is hectic, coupled with all the hats that I juggle makes it imperative that I have an outlet to destress and walking is that for me. It helps me to be balanced, which is important due to the fact that year round I can be seen, sometimes stressed, on the sideline supporting my son as he runs the lacrosse field playing middie or Facetiming with my daughter in pharmacy school when she can take a break from studying. I also have a passion for public speaking and enjoy spending time talking with students from middle to graduate school about the opportunities that a STEM career provides.