Women of Influence

Nicole Desir, B.A.'94, M.A.'96

Executive Director, Blueprint – Powered by Beanstalk
Vice President of Brand Management, Beanstalk

Alignment of the Stars

By Carol Olechowski

Twelve years ago, Nicole Desir joined Beanstalk to help actresses and fashion designers Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen create a global brand for girls. Her prior marketing experience at Elizabeth Arden and Victoria’s Secret Beauty enabled her “to manage and expand the beauty segment of the Olsens’ business.”

Desir still enjoys her career with Beanstalk, “a global brand-extension agency and a member of the Omnicom Group Inc., a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Our amazing team explores how brands can evolve, bringing new products and services to market.

“In the newly formed division of the agency, Blueprint – Powered by Beanstalk, we customize solutions for each client and project. Our services range from design and insights to market analysis. Our practice areas include brand extension + retail development, research + insights, design + identity, and operations + governance,” adds Desir, who is based at Beanstalk’s New York headquarters. (The agency also has offices in London, Los Angeles, Miami and Cincinnati.)

Beanstalk’s high-profile clients have included Salma Hayek. “Salma was seeking a way to create consumer products that would bear her name, but have a distinct point of view and deliver innovation to the marketplace, her fan base and consumers,” Desir recalls. “We decided she should introduce a complete line of beauty products exclusively at CVS in 2011. Usually, celebrities endorse established brands or create fragrances in their names, typically at department stores. This was the first time an A-list actress, producer and director chose to create a line of cosmetics, hair care, skincare and body care at a drugstore.”

As Blueprint’s executive director – a role she describes as “multi-faceted, fast-paced and fun!” – Desir is responsible for “all aspects” of Beanstalk’s global consulting business. They include consulting, marketing, business development and client projects – “and, of course, driving financial results!”

While the strong writing and analytical skills Desir developed at UAlbany allowed her to consider education, publishing and research as professional options, “the stars aligned for me to begin a marketing career. I used my background in story-telling and analysis as a foundation while learning other marketing skills on the job.”

Desir characterizes UAlbany as “a strong university where I could explore different aspects of myself.”

She majored in English, minored in French, investigated internship opportunities, and earned an English-department fellowship that supported her master’s studies. “Several professors, including Helen Elam, mentored me along the way and emphasized the importance of focusing on how I think – a key skill I rely on every day.”

As an undergraduate, Desir lived on both Indian and State quads and confesses to “not-so-fond memories of the drafts between buildings. I’m not a huge fan of winter! But I have great memories of hanging out by the fountain in warmer months, studying late hours in the library and the student union,” remembers Desir, who also sang with the University’s gospel choir.

She keeps in touch with former classmates through Facebook. Desir, Arlene Cahill-Vaccaro and Gail Diaz met freshman year. “We all are 1994 graduates. I also have other longtime friends from my undergrad years,” notes Desir.