Describe your career journey from being a student at King’s to being in your current role.
It’s been an incredible journey since I graduated with a master’s in Human Resource Management & Organisational Analysis in 2011.
In the last eight years, I’ve had the opportunity to work for some of the world’s biggest brands and brightest minds in Fortune 500 companies – including at Coca-Cola, Reckitt Benckiser and L’Oreal, where I currently work as a human resources director.
With each passing year, new challenges and learnings have made this journey more exciting than ever. I’ve seen workplace tools and technology evolve, bringing new skill sets that reflect the impact of the digital revolution. That said, on my journey as an HR practitioner I’ve had to continuously remind myself that while innovation is necessary, the human element remains at the heart of any business strategy.
What’s the one thing you enjoy most about your current role?
I absolutely love that my role as a human resources director at L’Oreal gives me the opportunity to live my passion every single day – being close to people!
I get to experience very real human emotions on a daily basis: whether it’s the excitement of a new product launch that the marketing team has been working on, the pressure of deadlines bringing people together, or simply seeing a management trainee giving a first project presentation to senior leadership.
It’s wonderful to see the human side of business and my role allows me to help people navigate these situations, which in turn helps me to become a better professional.
What have been your biggest achievements in business and your career so far?
I learned early on in my career that the best way HR can make a mark is to understand the business quickly and lead its growth agenda. So I eagerly took on business challenges – from managing organisational cultural change to implementing efficiency models. This thirst for opportunities led me to become the youngest HR director in the country for any Fortune 500 company operating in Pakistan.
I am most proud of conceptualising and launching my first ever technical vocational training programme during my time at Coca-Cola. Young talent were given the technical skills to start their own entrepreneurial venture so it had an immediate positive social impact in society, while also helping the business find the right talent to help deliver growth.
At L’Oreal I am truly living the diversity agenda, and have championed inclusive recruitment across the company. I consider myself fortunate to be working at an organisation that gives me the freedom to follow my passion of working with people and making a difference with every action.
How did your time at King’s help you with your career journey?
After gaining my undergraduate degree in Canada, I knew I wanted to experience Europe. King’s was an obvious choice because of its illustrious history, focus on research, prestigious alumni – like Sir Zafrulla Khan one of Pakistan’s founders and its first foreign minister – and most importantly the faculty heavyweights such as Professor David Guest and Professor Riccardo Peccei.
King’s equipped me with the skills I needed to dive into organisational issues and see how they impact human resources (and vice versa!). The ability to dissect issues from the obvious and not so obvious angles, analyse them and then propose solutions is a skill honed from my time at King’s.
Being a top-ranked university globally, it’s no surprise that King’s opened doors for me as soon as I entered the jobs market. It allowed me to create a network that even today helps me in in my career. Not to mention the fact that King’s’ location in one of the world’s biggest financial hubs gave me opportunities to create experiences that shaped me beyond lecture theatres.
What is the best piece of advice you have for current King’s Business School students on achieving success in their careers?
The world is changing faster than ever and career success no longer requires conventional thinking. The social contract between employer and employee in the form of employment for life is no longer prevalent and this opens up new opportunities for those who want to grow and be ahead of the pack.
Gaining knowledge, keeping abreast of the latest trends and predicting the unknown requires self-motivation. Take the opportunity of your time at King’s to build your skills on analysing and seeing beyond obvious challenges and risks. This will mean failing as well and that’s the best thing you can do – so don’t be shy of taking risks!
One thing that won’t change is the power of relationships. Develop this aspect of your personality because the higher you go up, both as an entrepreneur and in the corporate world, the more your career success depends on being able to connect with people.