Ad land’s Young Guns: Saloni Arora, Forever 21

Saloni Arora is Head of Marketing at Forever 21 by profession and a marathon runner by passion. Arora and her team are responsible for making Forever 21 the most loved fast fashion destination of India. 

Arora has pursued her MBA in Management and Marketing with the Nottingham Trent University, UK. She a little over 10 years of work experience in the field of Brand, Retail, PR, Media Marketing and digital marketing. Arora considers herself to be an effective team player with strong communication and leadership skills. She is also a certified Image Consultant, which helps her bring out her design and aesthetics sense in the field of fashion and collaborate the same with her marketing skills. 

She was listed among the top 50 most talented marketing professionals of India by the World Marketing Congress in 2014 for her contribution at Fossil. The marketing campaign led by her at Max won Campaign of the Year at the CMO Asia Awards in Singapore in 2016. 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I feel I am a true millennial at heart. I have been a marketer and working in the fashion retail industry for quite some time now. I was looking to work with a brand that symbolises my personal character as well – authentic, bold, fashionable and trustworthy. Forever 21 happened while I was working in the erstwhile role, a chance to head the marketing portfolio, and I jumped ship. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
Passion. I think that is my biggest strength and my biggest asset. I am so passionate about my job and the brand that I believe I will do whatever it takes to build and do justice to the amazing brand that Forever 21 is in India. I believe that the one line that drives me every single day is “Be Better than Yesterday”. 

Icons in this field you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
I recently attended a conference on women’s leadership and happened to be a part of Chanda Kochhar’s (former MD, ICICI) talk. She very beautifully said “Remember that good times and bad times will be part of your life equally, and you have to learn to handle both with equanimity. Make the most of life’s opportunities and learn from every opportunity and challenge that life brings along.” 

She also said that women are on an equal playing field today in corporate entities. Being a wife, a home maker, a corporate professional, a mother, etc. – there are multiple roles a woman must handle with aplomb. Hence, you must be 200 per cent present in that moment. If you are working on a strategy presentation, be 200 per cent present there and if you are spending quality time at home, be 200 per cent present there. Give your time and energy to focussing on key moments to make the most out of the experiences that life has to offer you. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  • I am an early morning riser. Early mornings help me take my ‘me time’ and prioritise my day.
  • I set my intentions for the day.
  • I break my big life goals into smaller goals, and from there on, smaller tasks. And once I achieve them, I celebrate without losing sight of the bigger picture.
  • I exercise almost every day to keep my mind and body healthy. I am a marathon runner by passion and believe that there are a lot of learnings that can be imbibed from marathon running to everyday work. What good is money and success, when you are not healthy enough to receive the benefits of it?
  • I write a gratitude diary almost every day, thanking the universe for all the good things that made my day, and the learnings the day taught me.

Do you think a career in this field is a viable one in the long term?
Absolutely. Why Not? A marketing head could become a director tomorrow, an AVP and a VP thereafter, not only for single brands, but also for multiple brands. And if you work for a company that supports your growth, like Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail is well known for, you could move functions tomorrow and head a brand/ brands. 

What does it take to succeed in this career?
Hard work and lots of it, commitment, perseverance, patience, willingness to learn, an open mind and continuous updation of your existing knowledge and skill set. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Be patient, stick around in a role for at least two-three years, be open-minded and pick up the ropes. No job is ever going to be perfect. However, if you have a good manager and continue to learn every day, then you will definitely move up the ladder. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
These days my new found love is the online space and digital/ social marketing. It’s also because my TG spends almost 4-5 hours a day glued to social media. I would definitely like to head the e-commerce business along with my current portfolio. 

Is there any organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I haven’t really given this much of a thought currently.


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