Lisa Ernst, BSChE 1986
Inducted in 2022
In her 35-year career at Procter & Gamble, Lisa Ernst has served as engineer, director of research and development, and vice president of research and development for oral care, hair care, personal health care and pet care. This year, she is retiring as the senior vice president of Research and Development for Oral Care and the consumer health sector leader of Research and Development.
Ernst’s career with P&G began with a summer internship while she was still a chemical engineering student at the University of Kentucky. After her graduation in 1986, she moved to Cincinnati to work on the Oral Care Product Development team as a staff engineer. P&G promoted her to director of Crest Research & Development in 1991, giving Ernst her first managerial role. She was promoted through several departments until she was made vice president of Oral Care Product Development – New Business Development and Denture Care in 2003. Since then, she has held various executive positions, overseeing the launch of successful products such as Crest White Strips, Vicks VapoCool and Oral-B power toothbrushes. During her tenure, Crest and Vicks became $1 billion brands, and Oral B Power and Head & Shoulders became $2 billion brands.
At P&G, she is one of the only managers ever awarded the Product Research Star Award. For her work towards setting product standards and her work on diversity and organizational excellence, P&G awarded her the Kathy Fish North Star Award.
As a successful female engineer, Ernst is passionate about representation in the workforce. In her first position at P&G, the reporting line above her consisted of three women. She credits this experience with encouraging her to pursue professional opportunities early in her career. She has been the sponsor for P&G’s R&D Hispanic Affinity Network, the African American Network, the Women’s Network, and was a founding member of P&G’s first Lean In Circle. She also led Global R&D Products Research community of practice.
Ernst has devoted a significant amount of time to her community. At UK, she has served on the board of the Gaines Foundation as member, secretary and chair. She currently serves on the Dean’s Engineering Advisory Council and the Lewis Honors College Advisory Council. In her church, she has served on the worship committee, the servant leadership board, the finance committee and the endowment committee.
After retirement, Ernst plans to set up an innovation consulting practice and teach Pure Barre fitness classes.
Ernst and her husband, Richard, live in Cincinnati. They also spend time on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. They have two sons, Thomas and John.