March 01, 2022

By Jennifer ’00 Yuricich Spotts

Several requests to change her major, three “failed” internships and dozens of job rejection letters led Ashley Spoto ’17 to a position in her dream company pursuing what she now knows will be her dream job.

Things didn’t just fall into place for the Staten Island native; rather, it was her willingness to compromise that launched her career at L’Oréal, initially working as an hourly employee with a temp agency. She said everything “took off from there.”

Spoto accepted a full-time position with Estée Lauder and spent two years in supply chain management, gaining “enough skills to move on and move up.” She called a former colleague at L’Oréal seeking career advice and he invited her to return — this time as a salaried employee with benefits. This past January, she was promoted to senior planner in systems and acquisitions where she trains representatives of L’Oréal’s many acquired brands, including IT Cosmetics, La Roche-Posay, NYX Professional Makeup, Ralph Lauren Fragrance, Urban Decay and Youth to the People.

Finding Her Place with L’Oréal

She’s worked with retailers and suppliers, learning about responsible sourcing of resources (like ingredients, raw materials, packaging and people), understanding orders, displays and key performance indicators of retailer giants like Target, and how products from luxury brands end up on the shelves of discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. She’s seen there is essentially no difference between luxury and nonluxury brands on the supply chain side; the differentiator is the marketing and the story-telling.

“Consumers of luxury brands were accustomed to wait for products,” Spoto said, “but now Amazon is driving consumers to expect things right away.” Luxury companies are faced with a decision: to retain the part of what makes a product luxurious or to remove the wait to get their product to people quicker, she added.

When Spoto started college, she was interested in human resources but changed her major to broadcasting and then to international studies. Then, while conducting an Institute for International Education internship during her junior study-abroad program in London, she discovered that she didn’t want to pursue that either. Susquehanna’s new luxury brand marketing and management major launched at the same time, and although she wanted to make another switch, she “really wanted to graduate on time.” Instead, she wrote a thesis and presented before the Sigmund Weis School of Business to make her case to be a luxury brand communications and marketing self-designed major.

“You’re at Susquehanna; you can do whatever you want. The time you put in will reflect who you are and what you do,” she advised students at her Break Through presentation. “What you study is not always what you’ll do for the rest of your life.”

It was Spoto’s experiences with brand integration training and onboarding that made her realize her passion and where she wants to end up at L’Oréal. It just happens to be in the department she was first interested in at SU: human resources.