Trilogy International's planned takeover by Chinese conglomerate CITIC Capital was months in the making, says Angela Buglass, chief executive of the Auckland-based company.

For eight months, Buglass facilitated the deal, assisting directors and advisers with the finer details and steering commercial negotiations.

The purchase - for $250 million - will not change daily operations, she says.

"It shouldn't mean anything to the people that work on the business because we're not being bought by a trade buyer who has their own policies or ways of working," she says. "They will expect us to continue to run things the way that we do."


"CITIC Capital have many businesses around the world and so we may be able to leverage other parts of their business to really develop our growth."

The deal to take over Trilogy International, listed on both the NZX and ASX, is now awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

Buglass didn't do all of the groundwork, but was familiar with proceedings, given this will be the fourth time a business is acquired while she is working there.

Next week CITIC Capital will be in Auckland to discuss the next steps, be introduced to the team and issue a trading update.

Buglass, an only child, grew up on Bay of Plenty dairy farms - good preparation for leading a multinational company, she says.

"There was never downtime - we were always busy - whether it was milking the cows early in the morning, feeding the calves or moving stock around - we always had something to do, and I think that really helped with the kind of role you get when you're CEO because you're constantly moving from one project to another."

The 44-year-old commutes weekly to Auckland from Cambridge, where she has a home and bed-and-breakfast business with her husband Martin.

Buglass drives up on Monday mornings to spend the week in Auckland, living close to Trilogy's Fort St office, and is back in Cambridge for the weekends.


During high school she had her sights set on being an officer in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, having been a cadet for four years and reaching NCO level.

Her application for the Defence Force was accepted at age 17, and she almost joined, but instead decided to study for a Bachelor of Management Studies at Waikato University, where she fell in love with marketing.

"It was a year that they weren't doing their officer cadet on-boarding, so I went to university ... went down that route and never went back to considering the Air Force," she says. "I think I liked that military regime at the time but I probably wouldn't be so good in it now."

Fresh out of university, Buglass began working at marketing company Procter & Gamble as a data technology manager, responsible for Foodstuffs accounts throughout the country, before progressing into a sales role.

A year or so later she was approached for a job with L'Oreal, which was launching cosmetics into New Zealand pharmacies.

At 25 she decided to take her OE in London, where she continued to work for L'Oreal, prior to taking on a role at hair care company Charles Worthington.


"It was really nice to step away from the multinational infrastructure of L'Oreal where everything was very clear, strategic and directed, to a small independent where as a hairdresser [the founder] created his own brand selling products in Boots," she says. "When I was in the smaller company, suddenly I was involved in forecasting and operations, supply chains, buying bottles and designing products which I never had any experience of before."

She then went to work for Estee Lauder as a marketing manager for Aveda.

I think if I said 20 years ago that I'm going to be a CEO it would have been a little ignorant because I wouldn't have known what that meant.

After 15 years in London, Buglass made the move back to New Zealand.

"I didn't think there would be a beauty job at the level that I had in England, and so my husband and I decided to buy a business," she says.

"We spent a lot of time travelling the country looking at property - we wanted to buy a boutique accommodation business - and I thought that it would keep me busy and that I'd have some downtime while I thought of something else to do, so we bought an accommodation business and a beautiful home in Cambridge."

But that downtime didn't last long, as the role of Trilogy chief executive came up shortly afterwards in 2014. "My husband had to give up his job [to run the business] so I could come here and do this," she says.


She still helps out in her free time. Last weekend she was making up beds.

"We have quite a busy occupancy rate and sometimes if I want to spend time with my husband on the weekends I have to help him get his job done."

Buglass doesn't have any children, which she says is her biggest regret.

"With the career that I've had I know some women have done an incredible job of balancing it all but [for me] the time was never right," she says.

She says the beauty industry is an interesting space to be in.

"It's constantly changing - perhaps not as fast as fashion - but it's led by fashion and trends. I like the fact that this industry is about making people feel good about themselves, and I don't mean in the sense that you have to use cosmetics to feel good. I mean you've got the choice to choose products that make your skin glow or make your hair look fantastic, and that's a really fun thing."


"It's serious business. Sometimes outsiders looking in might think it's all photoshoots, choosing models and doing makeup sessions but the commercials of it are just as important: making sure we have a highly profitable business that delivers growth every year."

Becoming a CEO was a personal and pivotal moment for Buglass.

"We all have a little bit of self doubt from time to time and when I was approached for this role I was unsure that I had the qualifications or experience to go straight to that level," she says. "The development of my commercial knowledge, particularly sharemarket knowledge, has been quite a large piece of work."

She says she never had her sights set on becoming a CEO. "It's not that I'm not ambitious, but I feel that you do need to achieve a certain something, or to a certain level, to feel that you tick the [required] boxes."

"I think if I said 20 years ago that I'm going to be a CEO, it would have been a little ignorant because I wouldn't really have known what that meant."

Funnily enough, it was a headhunter in the UK who contacted Buglass for the role as they thought she still lived there.

We're still just a speck in the ocean within the whole US business but I'm really excited about that and future potential.

Trilogy International's business portfolio consists of candle firm Ecoya, local manufacturing firms and skincare brands Trilogy and Goodness, among others. The Trilogy brand is by far the biggest, with a presence in 25 markets worldwide.

The company runs CS&Co, the country's largest cosmetic distribution company, and last year acquired another skincare manufacturer in Auckland.

It is now gearing up to launch its products in US beauty retailer Ulta in March.

"We're still just a speck in the ocean within the whole US business but I'm really excited about that and future potential," Buglass says.

"We don't sell in open [bricks and mortar] retail in China because of its animal testing laws, but we do have a very good, strong developing crossborder e-commerce business, which we spent last year setting up.

"We have a flagship store on T-Mall, we're with all of the main sites such as, Little Red Book, - all of main platforms. Now that that's all in place, we're starting to focus on our social media because it's very different there."


Asked what part of her job she most enjoys, Buglass says the marketing, and managing the team of 210 people, taking into account those in all subsidiaries, divisions and brands. The vast majority of its Auckland team is female and the average age of a Trilogy staff member is 32.

In the most recent financial year the company made $12.69 million after tax, up from 9.4m the year before.

"We've got such great brands that have such great potential but a lot of consumers aren't even aware of them yet. Our brand awareness is probably, globally, lower than I would like," Buglass says.

In 10 years' time she sees herself still living in New Zealand.

"I've done my jaunt in travelling," she says. "I would just love to [continue to] be associated with really great New Zealand brands punching above their weight on the international stage."

Angela Buglass

Age: 44
Job title: CEO of Trilogy International
Family: Husband Martin
Education: Bachelor of Management Studies, Waikato University
Last book read: Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
Last film watched: Coco directed by Lee Unkrich
Last family holiday: Palm Springs, California