Celeste Hilling has business drive for community service


Celeste Hilling is founder and chief executive officer of Skin Authority and host of the Internet radio show “Skin Health Today.” She is also a recurring skin care expert for FOX News iMag, Spa Magazine and Les Nouvelles Esthetiques.

Before launching Skin Authority, Hilling developed Steiner Leisure Ltd., and served as president/CEO of the Day Spa Group. She was also at Compaq Computer Corp. as president of the Consumer Software Business Unit and vice president of the Consumer Division. Hilling also held executive positions at Wyse Technologies and Xerox Corp.

Her leadership tenure includes development chairwoman on the board of the New Children’s Museum of San Diego, current secretary of the International SPA Association Foundation, past co-chairwoman and honorary member of the advisory board of Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, and founding board member of DOCS (Doctors Offering Charitable Services).

Hilling is the first recipient of the Spirit of Giving award from the Beach & Country Guild, and a recipient of the San Diego Women Who Mean Business award.

What brought you to the area?

Love. I was living in the Bay Area and met my husband, who was living here and deeply rooted in San Diego. I was very attached to the city of San Francisco and initially felt as though I was leaving a lot behind to move to San Diego. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I love the quality of life here, the sense of family and community that is shared by great friends and business relationships, which have only grown stronger over the years.

What makes the area special to you?

Aside from being geographically desirable because of the great weather and proximity to beautiful ocean or mountain landscapes, I appreciate the diversity and creativity of the entrepreneurial business base. I am always amazed at the number of innovative business ideas that have originated in the San Diego area and the fact that this city has so many tremendously successful people who maintain a very low approachable profile, yet are so accomplished.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would continue to strengthen the educational enrichment opportunities for our children. Ensuring that our kids have accessibility to the arts will not only grow their scholastic success, but also supply a creative breeding ground for the next generation of business and social innovators.

Who or what inspires you?

My family inspires me. When I look at the world through the eyes of my daughter, I see a world of unconditional love and undaunted optimism. She isn’t jaded or skeptical of others and doesn’t have any of the biases we often cultivate as adults. It really motivates me to rise to a higher level of integrity and care for others in all that I do. Being responsible and accountable for shaping the life of someone other than myself gives one a higher sense of purpose.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Great question! Leonardo da Vinci, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Martin Luther, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey, Shakespeare, Bono, Christopher Columbus.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“It’s Not About the Bike, My Journey Back to Life” by Lance Armstrong.

What is your most-prized possession?

Although I consider it a gift, versus a possession, I would have to say my marriage and my daughter. What she does, and the impact she makes on others, will be our living legacy. If we can help her develop the self-esteem, character, strength and sensitivity she needs to contribute something meaningful to her community, family and friends, then those gifts are really priceless.

What do you do for fun?

Anything outdoors — running, biking, hiking or just taking a walk on the beach.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment is watching the people we touch — our employees, our customers, their children — succeed and thrive because of our connection. It is an amazing sense of satisfaction to be able to be in a business where caring personally about people is a core value and our greatest asset.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Being happy or successful isn’t about having the “best” things, it is about appreciating and applying what you have.