By H. Grousbeck, Sara Rosenthal
2012 | Case No. E456

The case profiles Gregg Renfrew, the CEO and founder of Beautycounter, a non-toxic cosmetics company set to launch in January 2013.  After developing a personal passion for the non-toxic goods space, Gregg decides in 2010 to launch her own company.  She recruits Tim Mitchell, a long-time friend and mentor, as a board member and brand strategy consultant.  Tim proves his value at the get go, but a series of inappropriate blowups at the office combined with his unwillingness to work with anyone but Gregg and her partner create an uncomfortable situation and a dysfunctional work environment.  Ultimately, she must terminate Tim’s relationship with Beautycounter and deal with the resulting fall out with Tim, her board and her team.

Learning Objective

This case is taught in Managing Growing Enterprises, a class which faces students with the day-to-day difficult conversations and decisions that arise in growing ventures. The students are presented with the difficult scenario of having to ask a board member (who also happens to be a mentor and friend) to resign from the organization after a series of inflammatory interactions with him. The learning objectives are as follows: 1) ask students to review the CEO’s actions in the context of best practices to determine how she could have avoided the situation in the future; 2) ask students to determine in what order and how to approach the board regarding her decision to ask the board member to leave; 3) determine how to best deal with employees in the wake of the challenging situation.

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