Tennealle O’Shannessy has been CEO of Adore Beauty for only a short time, but under her guidance, she has led the online retailer to many achievements already. We asked her twenty questions to explore her passions, secret talents and her go-to skincare order.
1. What do you enjoy about the e-commerce industry?
E-commerce is such an exciting space to work in – it’s fast-paced, customer-centric and attracts some of the best and brightest people, so we are always seeing innovation!
2. What inspired you to join the online beauty category?
I was attracted to Adore Beauty’s aspiration and purpose, which is to help customers feel more confident and fabulous every day by delivering an empowering, engaging and personalised beauty shopping experience underpinned by authentic, trusted content and education. I think about beauty as a self-care category rather than one focused on appearance, so this customer-centric approach really resonates with me.
3. What was the last thing you bought online?
a. Did you add express shipping?
Like many Melbournians living and working through 200+ plus days of lockdown, I must admit my last purchase was a self-care item for myself – I stocked up on scented candles for my home office – from Adore Beauty of course, and express shipping was offered free of charge so my order arrived really quickly!
4. What was your first job?
While I was studying at university I spent several years working as a stevedore, driving cranes, forklifts and straddles and loading and unloading ships.
5. What is your favourite part about your job?
Easy, the people I work with. It is inspiring to be surrounded by a team of entrepreneurial, driven people who care deeply about our customers. An important part of my role is creating the space for them to develop and grow in their careers as the Adore business continues to grow, in fact, one of our core values is ‘always growing’.
6. Did you go to university?
a. If so, did you enjoy it?
I did go to university, I did not really have a clear idea of what I wanted to do with my career, so I kind of just kept studying hoping I would have a lightbulb moment of inspiration, and finished up with a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Business and MBA. All of this study has had elements that were useful in my current role, but the most important thing I took from my university days was a passion for learning, and an intellectual curiosity that remains with me today.
7. Are there any lessons you learned in your first job that has stayed with you for your career?
The importance of backing yourself when trying something new, even if totally out of your comfort zone (I had zero experience in driving cranes!), in terms of credibility, results speak the loudest, and people and relationships are everything in business. I also learnt the importance of diversity in all its forms, and the positive impact it has on teams (this work environment was very male-dominated and at an early age I experienced both unconscious and conscious bias).
8. What has been the proudest moment in your career?
I am so proud of what the Adore Beauty team has achieved in the past 12 months, not the least of which was successfully listing the business on the Australian Stock Exchange while operating under Stage 4 lockdown restrictions (in fact I didn’t get to meet most of the team involved in the deal until several months after). This was topped off by being nominated for an incredible seven awards at the 2021 Power Retail All Star Bash Awards, and winning the Top Beauty Retailer, Top User Experience and Best Email Marketing awards.
9. Looking at where you are now, did you expect to be in this position when you were 25?
When I was 25, I was driving cranes on the night shift as a stevedore, so it’s fair to say it has been quite a journey, and I did not expect to end up where I am today as the CEO of a publicly listed beauty ecommerce player!
10. What does ‘success’ look like to you?
Working in a job I am passionate about, where I am solving meaningful problems for customers, and where I can be an important shaper and role model for my children.
11. Do you have a favourite social media platform?
I try to set an example of not too much screen time for my kids so stay off the social apps, probably Linkedin is used most.
12. Do you have any secret talents?
I rediscovered running and triathlons during the many COVID lockdowns, and last year completed the Cairns Ironman 70.3 triathlon (I was not fast, but I did finish – I like to set myself big goals then work like crazy to achieve them).
13. What three words would best describe you?
Determined, hardworking, adaptable.
14. How do you typically unwind after a long day?
Hanging out with my three kids, each night during lockdown we try to fit in a walk to the park or beach.
15. What’s your most-used App on your phone?
Slack – it’s the key communication tool I use to connect with the team.
16. Do you support AFL?
a. If so, which team?
My hubby and kids are one-eyed Collingwood supporters, so I think I would be disowned if I didn’t say the Pies.
17. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up, so much so that I even studied it for 6 months at uni before realising it wasn’t for me and making the switch.
18. What’s your go-to order with Adore Beauty?
I’ve become a bit obsessed and am loving adding to my morning skincare routine, experimenting with Vitamin C and hydrating serums, a really good moisturiser and of course the non-negotiable SPF 50+ sunscreen.
19. Do you have a hero or mentor that you look up to?
I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with some of the best founders and operators in the Australian technology and e-commerce space – too many to mention! Personally, I was raised in a family of four daughters, where our mum instilled into us that we could do anything we set our minds to (I’m not sure she intended to raise such headstrong daughters, however!).
20. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Enjoy being a kid, don’t be in a rush to grow up, you don’t need to have all the answers from the start. I’m a pretty motivated, driven person and have approached my life as a race, my advice to a younger me would be to slow down a touch and enjoy the ride!
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