Role Models: Cindy Livingston

By Marriam Mossalli

Cindy Livingston is the female embodiment of intimidation; even her biography reads “shrewd businesswoman.” Admired for her impressive portfolio of  accomplishments during her 20-plus year career in the timepiece sector, Livingston is the watch industry’s equivalent to Karl Lagerfeld.

In fact, I’ve met Karl Lagerfeld and I have to admit I was more nervous interviewing Livingston. President and CEO of Sequel AG, the worldwide distributor of Guess and Gc Watches, she’s the type of woman, who in her presence, you find yourself subconsciously holding your breath. Whenever Livingston enters a room, it’s almost automatic: people’s conversations suddenly soften to a whisper and all eyes shift to get her in their peripheral view because no matter who you are, you’re too shy to look directly at her.

During our meeting at the renowned BaselWorld, she was wearing a dark, cashmere shawl that she swung over her shoulder, in a successful attempt to make her stature appear more grandeur. She dominated the room, effortlessly and with such innate aura of sophistication. You could see it on everyone’s face: they admire her. They respect her. And they are definitely intimated by her.

This is because Livingston has transformed a cult fashion brand into one of the top ten Swiss Made watches in terms of units sold. “We’re now a watch brand that makes fashion,” she asserted. What is more impressive is her ability to have done so with two X chromosomes—no easy feat in a predominately male-run industry, and even harder for an American in a sector with a history heavily romanced with the legends of the European timekeepers.

Livingston joined five years after the inception of the watch licensee group Callanen International and in eight short  years, had made her way up to the top as President and CEO of Sequel AG, a Swiss company headquartered in Zug,  Switzerland and charged with the exclusive distribution rights for GUESS and Gc watches worldwide.
She is credited with starting the international business for GUESS Watches (now recognized as the #1 licensed watch brand in the world) and for introducing the Gc watch brand. “What are all the millions of Guess watch customers going to buy once they grow up?” she rhetorically mused. “We wanted to keep it in the family, so we created the Guess Collection, which has become Gc.”

Today, both brands account for over a billion dollars in retail sales around the world.

Aside from being the lead figure behind the?exponential growth of both the GUESS and Gc watch brands, Livingston is also a dedicated philanthropist and oversees the charitable activities that support global projects for the health, education and welfare of children. Under the theme – “FACES TO WATCH, TIME TO GIVE” – Sequel AG and their business partners have raised over $3 million Swiss Francs since the program’s inception in 2007.