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Meet Simone Tata, the creative businesswoman

September 28, 2007
Whenever I had the occasion to visit Bombay House I smelled and stored the ambience reverentially. It was because JRD Tata was, and still is, an idol for true professionals in India. His presence in that house, as in our minds, gave us the ensemble of hope, humility, the joy in doing good work, the desire to search for knowledge and strive for a successful professional career. I saw JRD's bust as I got into the elevator. His saying, Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without deep thought and hard work, rang in my mind as I reached Simone's office on the second floor. Jinny, her secretary, extended the usual courtesies.

"In my visits abroad I used to collect samples and give them to a chemist to benchmark. I had a very fashionable cousin in Paris," said Tata in an interview to the author, tracing the evolution of Lakme as a brand.

"When I went to Paris and my father gave me money for dresses I did not buy them. Instead, I went to beauty parlours with my cousin to learn to do a professional make-up: how to take care of skins, textures, etc. In other words, I studied cosmetics. One thing led to another. It was all an evolution.

"Up to the 70s, our structure just evolved with the needs of the organisation, starting with basic infrastructure: recruiting a small sales force, creating a one-man sales and marketing department, followed by a regional office," she continued.

"Structures became much more defined in the 80s. Strategies in those days wee more evolutionary. An export strategy, however, was developed since the Indian market became non-profitable due to the yearly hike in excise duty, which reduced margins to almost zero."

Also read: Do you keep delaying things? Eat that frog!

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