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In An Always On World, My Success Mantra Has Been Working Hard & Party Hard: Harmeet Singh

In her interaction with Marketing Mind, Harmeet Singh, Vice President- Marketing, E-commerce, Product and Digital (Asia South), The Body Shop, opened up on how entering the beauty industry with The Body Shop made her discover her passion for the category, having inhibitions about moved up the career ladder, why women have an added advantage when working with a beauty brand, and much more.

| Published on March 22, 2024

Celebrating Woman Leaders (Harmeet Singh)

Having started her career with merchandising in May 1999, working with companies such as Piramyd Retail, Trent, ShoppersStop, The Home Store; joining the beauty industry with The Body Shop and then discovering her passion for the category, Harmeet Singh has made an indelible mark in the marketing sphere over the years with The Body Shop and her story is a testament to the fact that where there’s passion, there’s success.

She joined the beauty industry in April 2006 by becoming a part of the team that launched The Body Shop in India, and then worked with Oriflame Cosmetics in a global role, before she rejoined The Body Shop and began helming the brand’s marketing operations for the past half-a-decade now.

Harmeet Singh, Vice President- Marketing, E-commerce, Product and Digital (Asia South), The Body Shop
Harmeet Singh, Vice President- Marketing, E-commerce, Product and Digital (Asia South), The Body Shop

In her conversation with Marketing Mind, Singh emphasised that while there were a lot of factors that contributed to her success in the beauty industry, being a woman, there were many challenges too.

But what helped her stand strong through all these years and understand the category better was primarily her ‘great passion’ for the beauty industry.

“As a woman, I did have a great awareness of customer preferences and how women can evaluate and comprehend markets a little more deeply. But I also believe that this passion of mine for the beauty industry was something that positively catapulted my capacity to innovate and adjust to the rapidly shifting trends in the market and aiding in the expansion of the brand,” she said.

As for the challenges, she mentioned that in most cases, women working across categories have been subjected to gender biases at some point in time, ranging from not getting appropriate mentoring, opportunities, training or even equal pay.

But being a part of The Body Shop and working for a brand which is founded by, Dame Anita Lucia Roddick, and genuinely focuses on the development of women, she has fortunately not had to overcome typical human challenges to get to where she is today.

Working at a brand which champions both diversity and inclusivity and has been reaping the fruits of success from the same, Singh pointed out that since The Body Shop believes in walking the talk with its initiatives, the brand actively supports women leaders by providing mentorship, leadership training, and a growth-oriented environment as well as acknowledging the various challenges that women face and helping them overcome the same.

“While a majority of the workforce at TBS India comprises women, we have a 100% success rate of women returning to work after maternity leave. In 2022, we also announced that we’ll allow two leaves a month to women as menstrual leaves. With all these policies in place, we’ve seen a massive increase in the team’s commitment to deliver the goals, the ambition of the company and productivity all at the same time,” she said.

Furthermore, she also highlighted that as a brand, The Body Shop not only supports communities, women empowerment, underprivileged communities, and children’s development, but also comes up with campaigns that helps deliver on the brand’s objectives as that is a part of the brand’s ethos.

Commenting on whether working in a category that has been predominantly skewed towards targeting women and being a woman herself has proved to be an advantage, Singh replied that working in the beauty industry can be a great advantage for women, however, what’s worth noting is that nowadays women are excelling in many other industries as well, including retail and garment.

“Ultimately, it’s all about pursuing your passion. In my case, when I joined The Body Shop, I discovered a passion for beauty. But for many women, this industry comes naturally, making it easier for them to adapt and perform their best,” she said.

That being said, she also highlighted that even though around 75-80% of her team today comprises women and they have an added advantage to work in an industry which is close to their hearts, the brand gives equal opportunities to men who are passionate about beauty and are the right fit for the role whilst having the right skill sets for growth.

Harmeet Singh at one of the retail stores of The Body Shop India
Harmeet Singh at one of the retail stores of The Body Shop India

For her, more than gender, an individual’s success in any role depends on the person’s skills, experience, and having an understanding of the brand, its values, and its target audience as diversity in perspectives is what leads to innovative and inclusive strategies.

“In my opinion, success is welcomed by an individual irrespective of the gender as it is a feather in the cap, but women are more mature, responsible and capable of handling challenging situations at higher positions in an organization. Nevertheless, it all really depends on the individual’s abilities to handle the position,” she added.

Working in an industry where it is the men who have historically held many CEO-level positions, but with changing times more women are climbing the ladder to higher positions across companies, Singh emphasised that what will make a difference is the ambition, hard work, passion, and the way women pave their path to advancement.

During the course of the interaction, she also pointed out that at an individual level, she never thought that she would be climbing any ladder in her professional life, but it was mainly because of the fact that she gave her best throughout her life in terms of both commitment and hard work and reached where she is today.

“One of the major professional milestones for me has been a part of being a part of The Body Shop’s launch in India and then taking up a role at another beauty brand overseas because it gave me the exposure to see the international market and have experiences that comes with a global level role. I never actually planned it, but it came my way, and I achieved it,” she said.

Sharing her views on how she manages to maintain a work-life balance whilst working in the marketing and advertising world which tends to follow an almost always on strategy these days, Singh mentioned that she has prioritized the work-life balance right from the beginning from her career because looking after one’s own self, irrespective of being at a leadership role, and engaging in self-care is what help the individual deliver the best results.

“When I say self-care, for me, it all depends on what I eat, how I exercise, how I stay in a positive frame of mind always, etc. as all of these are the ingredients that I need to stay on a certain level of positivity and deliver my best in my profession to have a absolutely great and a unique work-life balance in a challenging world like today where one is required to deliver beyond expectations,” Singh opined.

On a slightly candid note, she also mentioned that if she were to go out on a holiday and enjoy, she believes that she needs to earn that holiday by working hard enough over a certain time duration because at the end of the day that will enable her to make the best use of it. The same stands true for her team mates as well.

“My success mantra for my professional life has always been- Work hard and party hard,” she said.

Upon being questioned on what’d her advice to young women who are starting out their careers in the marketing and beauty industry be, Singh replied, “While I feel that there’s a greater recognition of the value for the diverse perspectives that women can bring to the table, I would advise aspiring women to be fearless as that’s what I have been throughout my journey.”

This trait of being fearless, in her views, should include all things ranging from pursuing the opportunities one’s looking for, continuously learning along the way and being adaptive to change.

“For me personally, every day is a learning ground and while it’s pertinent to be open to learning, adapting to any changes in the environment and seeking mentorship when required is also crucial. It is the environment that you create for yourself that impacts where you want to be and helps you grow and reach where you want to be. But amidst this all, all women must believe in themselves and strive for excellence in all that they do,” she added.

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