Inside Job: Monica Rastogi, The Estée Lauder Companies

August 8th 2015 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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What does it take to climb to the top of the corporate ladder at one the world’s biggest beauty companies? We caught up with The Estée Lauder Companies’ UK head of Corporate Cultural Relevancy & Regional Innovation to find out

In a highly competitive business, beauty brands have to be constantly at the forefront of the latest trends, always tailoring their offering to better suit a wealth of different demographics and cultures.

As the UK Head of Corporate Cultural Relevancy & Regional Innovation for The Estée Lauder Companies, Monica Rastogi is tasked with just that. Having crafted a hugely valuable role within the company, responsible for helping it evolve with the changing face of modern beauty, her job is pivotal in ensuring that all brands under The Estée Lauder Companies umbrella engage and communicate with its consumers in the most effective and relevant way possible - an objective no better illustrated than in our recent collaboration with Monica and her team to create a series of afro hair care, hyperpigmentation, foundation and afro hair styling videos.

We caught up with Monica to ask her about how she got to where she is, her top career advice and her tips for staying one step ahead of the beauty game.

GTG: Could you tell us about what your role entails? What does a typical day look like for you?

MR: I am in charge of beauty relevancy and innovation for Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland and I am lucky because this is really a one-of-a-kind opportunity - a role that I believe is pioneering a discipline within beauty.

While we are becoming more and more global, there is still a tremendous opportunity in truly connecting with our growing global consumers across the world. At the core, all women want to feel beautiful, but beauty manifests itself in different ways as we all have different beauty goals which are influenced by culture, lifestyle and so much more. With this role, I am the conduit to all our brands and functions on understanding these various consumer communities and how we can engage, communicate and ensure our offering has real relevance and feels authentic.

My other hat which is a bit smaller, is to suss out the trends that emerge from the UK and how we as a company can leverage this knowledge, whether from an innovative in-store service experience or a breakthrough way of storytelling.

As you can imagine there is no typical day since my role covers marketing, strategy, education and media across so many consumer communities. One day might focus on educating our field teams on a growing tourist trend in the UK and how we need to understand the consumer, cultural nuances, their key beauty stapes and the type of store experience they are expecting in the UK. The next could be a video shoot. The one constant is there is no shortage of learning and engaging. Sometimes I feel like I am back at university, where I am on a constant journey for more and more knowledge - it is really fascinating. Communities from two different worlds can have so much in common!

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GTG: Could you tell us about your background and your career journey so far?

MR: I have been working in cosmetic marketing for 14+ years, but my route into this world was not traditional. I graduated from university with an Economics/Pre-Med degree, I took a year off between university and Medical School and the rest is history. I started as a retail buyer, went for my MBA and then started at Lancôme USA.

I have been lucky enough to work on iconic brands in both a regional (North America and UK) and global capacity across all the beauty categories. My career at Estée Lauder Companies started in NYC in 2006 and continues today in the UK! After coming back to work (after my 2nd daughter), I knew I still wanted to be in the beauty industry but was curious as to what else was out there. Our regional president, Chris Good, presented me with this new blank canvas opportunity and I practically jumped at the chance. I will have been in this role for 2 years in September and the ride gets better and better…

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GTG: What motivates you and what would you say is the most exciting aspect of your job?

MR: Consistently learning so much on a daily basis. I feel like a beauty anthropologist learning about what makes people connect with beauty and how culture, traditions and environment play such a big role in all aspects of our industry.

GTG: How do you organise yourself?

MR: Despite modern day technology, I am still a good old-fashioned pencil and paper woman who loves a to-do list: my personal list and my professional list all divided by brand, by task and by project. Some might say it borders on slightly obsessive. I also love the feeling of crossing something off of the list giving you a sense of immediate satisfaction!

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GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?

MR: Be comfortable wearing many hats as you have to be able to juggle many different skill sets and many different personalities. Don’t be afraid to think outside the lines of convention in order to cut through the clutter and make a difference. Even if something doesn’t work, you constantly have to test and learn to make any progress. Also an entrepreneurial spirit, as the job spec is not black and white.

GTG: How do you achieve a work-life balance?

MR: I have two young daughters, Lina 4 and Ayla 2, so balance is extremely important. I try to keep quite disciplined when at work and my old-fashioned to-do list helps me keep on track. Once I get home, all my devices are put away until after my girls are in bed and then I do a quick look before unwinding for the night. Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland values a balance and I work four days a week, so on Fridays I am offline until after 8pm for a quick phone check. I have to say everyone is very respectful of my Fridays being off.

GTG: What 3 things do you do to maintain energy, focus and motivation throughout the day?

MR: Recently I re-started my daily gratitude journal which is a great way to reflect on the day. I also make it a point to not go to bed with my phone and try to read before closing my eyes.

I try to drink a glass of water every hour and eat relatively healthily and balanced throughout the day, (which can sometimes prove impossible with the constant array of snacks in our office!!)

Follow us @getthegloss and Ayesha @Ayesha_Muttu.

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