Ulta Beauty Names Next CEO as Mary Dillon Transitions

Ulta reveals its internal succession planning on news that Dillon, who has served as its CEO for eight years, will transition to the role of executive chair of the board of directors for a one-year term before exiting the retailer.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Mary Dillon standing in front of a window
Ulta Beauty’s CEO Mary Dillon.

Ulta Beauty’s president, Dave Kimbell, will succeed Mary Dillon as chief executive officer this June.

Dillon, who has served as CEO for eight years, will transition to the role of executive chair of the board of directors at that time. She intends to serve as executive chair for a one-year term and, with the board of directors, will continue to help guide strategy while supporting Kimbell in his transition.

Kimbell will be nominated to stand for election to the company’s board of directors at the 2021 annual stockholders meeting.

“It has been the honor of my career to lead the Ulta Beauty family for the last eight years and a true joy to have been inspired by our dedicated associates and beauty-loving guests daily,” said Dillon. “Our strategies, culture and continuous innovation have strengthened our business model, ensuring we are well-positioned to continue leading the industry. Throughout my time with the company, I have worked closely with our board on strategic succession plans, and I believe now is the right time to begin a CEO transition. Dave is a world-class business leader with incredible passion, deep beauty expertise, unwavering drive and a values-based leadership style.”

Dave Kimbell wearing a suit and tie
Ulta Beauty’s president, Dave Kimbell, will succeed Mary Dillon as CEO this June.

Kimbell has been pivotal in developing and executing growth strategies to move the Ulta Beauty business forward. He joined Ulta Beauty as chief marketing officer in 2014 and continually expanded his leadership responsibilities, named chief merchandising and marketing officer in 2015 and ultimately assuming the role of president in 2019. His proven track record of success spans his tenure with the company and is rooted in deep expertise across corporate strategy, merchandising, insights and analytics, marketing and brand development, loyalty, innovation, and business transformation.

Also in June, Kecia Steelman, currently chief store operations officer, will be elevated to the role of chief operating officer and will oversee store and services operations, supply chain, Ulta Beauty at Target and other, key initiatives. Most recently, she led store operations throughout 2020 through the lens of safety.

“I am humbled to serve as the next CEO of Ulta Beauty, succeeding Mary, whose leadership has been transformational, creating lasting impact across the beauty and retail industries,” said Kimbell.  “We will continue to build upon the foundation she set to ensure Ulta Beauty is a destination where every guest feels welcome and every associate can have a fulfilling career. I appreciate the support from Mary and our entire board of directors and look forward to leading with Kecia, our outstanding executive team and every Ulta Beauty associate through the lens of our well-established values and winning culture.”

Dillon leaves big shoes to fill at Ulta. As CEO she developed and nurtured the company’s winning, inclusive culture and drove significant business growth, having more than tripled market capitalization to more than $18 billion today, doubled the retailers’ fleet of stores, more than doubled its loyalty members and significantly drove its ecommerce capabilities. During her tenure, Ulta Beauty joined both the S&P and Fortune 500 listings and delivered total shareholder return of 245%.

“Thanks to Mary’s outstanding leadership, the future is very bright at Ulta Beauty,” said Kimbell. “Our dynamic business plays a unique and important role in the beauty industry and in our guests’ lives – and we are committed to continue operating with deep respect for that role while innovating and winning together.”

As part of this transition, Ulta Beauty’s current chair, Robert DiRomualdo, will retire from the board after serving three years in the role of chair and 17 years total on the board. The company also announced Lorna Nagler, who has served on the board since 2009, will become lead independent director working with Dillon in her executive chair role.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we are thankful for Mary’s commitment and leadership which firmly established Ulta Beauty’s culture and vaulted its financial performance and value creation throughout her tenure as CEO,” said DiRomualdo. “One of Mary’s greatest legacies is the exceptional leadership team she has built. We look forward to her ongoing guidance and support as executive chair and have full confidence that Dave is the ideal leader to continue building the business, leading the industry and inspiring associates, guests, partners and investors alike.”

Kimbell and Steelman will continue to partner with an experienced and diverse executive team, which will be 60% women and 20% people of color. The Ulta Beauty executive team consists of Scott Settersten, chief financial officer; Jeff Childs, chief human resources officer; Jodi Caro, general counsel and chief compliance officer; Elliott Rodgers, chief information officer; Amiee Bayer-Thomas, chief supply chain officer; Shelley Haus, chief marketing officer; Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer; and Prama Bhatt, chief digital officer.

All of the changes announced will take effect following the company's annual shareholders meeting scheduled for June 2, 2021.