Sharmili Rajput: In the Company of Women

Sharmili-Rajput-Marketing-Director-Oriflame-IndiaShe’s been working in the corporate sector for 16 years – from banks to luxury goods to soups – but her looks belie her age. Like sour grapes, you sneakily ascribe it to the high-technology beauty products she is now surrounded by. But when Sharmili Rajput, marketing director for Oriflame, puts her head back and laughs with an open confidence, you realise that working in a company of women, for women, must come with certain emotional perks too. We get some insight.

What attracted you to Oriflame?
It is always delightful to work in a company that deals with a product range you experience every day. This company backed by the core values of togetherness, spirit and passion really attracted me. Moreover, to work for a beauty brand like Oriflame is a dream come true, with its various challenges and interesting, innovative products and catalogues. There is a lot of newness in my work. Every day is a new day here.

A large percentage of Oriflame staffers are women, as are all the distributors. How does this gender bias affect business, if at all?
Oriflame is admittedly women-oriented company but it does not affect the business in any way except favourably. This industry is ideally suited for women. We have grown with high double digits year on year and have recorded an average growth of 40 per cent in last five years, which clearly depicts that we are doing well.

Oriflame also contributes towards educating underprivileged girl children. How did that come about?
Oriflame at a global level has always believed in giving back to the society. We believe that any investments made in the education of a girl translates directly and quickly into better health care, poverty reduction and better overall economic performance of the family. Thus, ‘Oriflame Girl Child’ project is an endeavour to spread the message that a community’s development is incomplete without the education of girls. We have joined hands with Deepalaya in Delhi and Hand in Hand in Chennai, and have donated over INR 34 crores towards this cause.

What do women bring to any workplace in your opinion? Are there any challenges in heading a direct-sales company mostly ‘manned’ by women?
Women add vibrancy and colour to the work environment, which is very important for a brand like Oriflame. Having said that, women also bring a complementary skill set to the workplace. I get to hear viewpoints of so many different women, each so unique and creative. It’s fun. We all work in a spirit of camaraderie and sisterhood and look out for each other. We all believe in the brand and the goals we are working towards.

How has working at Oriflame empowered you personally?
I have witnessed examples of life-changing experiences where women belonging to conservative backgrounds have turned into independent, confident professionals because of Oriflame. That is the joie de vivre of a company like this.

Do modern concepts of beauty liberate or enslave women?
In its most profound sense, beauty may engender a salient experience of positive reflection about the meaning of one’s own existence. Beauty is essential.

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