Devni Naidoo Ferdi resigns from Estee Lauder


Devni Naidoo Ferdi leaves her position as Inclusion and Diversity Director in EMEA at Estee Lauder.

After more than six years of working in Estee Lauder companies, Devni Naidoo Ferdi has concluded her career journey with Estee Lauder where she worked as Inclusion and Diversity Director in EMEA, to take a break and pursue outside opportunities.

Devni leaves the company after a solid and well-developed retail industry and financial services experience and proven track record.

She says about her decision: “This has been one of the most impactful and exciting careers I had until now and I am extremely proud of this chapter in my life but I am also very excited about what’s coming next. For now, I am enjoying my time off and doing the things I love, which is spending time with my family and travelling.
When I do get back into the saddle, I am looking forward to joining a high-performance organisation where I can thrive in a culture of openness, inclusion, collaboration and have the expectation and invitation to have a voice.”

“It’s about ‘culture add’ and not ‘culture fit’ – where I can make an impact and find unrivalled opportunities to succeed through my unique ideas and diverse background,” she adds.

Devni holds an honours degree in business and behavioural sciences, and a coaching degree from UKZN and USB.

Devni says her career was built on perseverance. “I knew I needed to work harder and longer than my peers, and to advocate for myself,” she says. “But that can’t or should not be how the next generation of women get to leadership positions.”

She began her professional career as a graduate in HR, joining Absa in Johannesburg in 1997, where she held various HR roles with oversight for areas that included talent acquisition, organisation transformation, human resources business partner, diversity and culture.

She has held various senior HR leadership and regional positions across Standard Bank Africa with geographical responsibilities extending into Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lagos , Kenya and Mauritius.

In 2011, she joined Standard Chartered Bank, where she was responsible for defining the regional HR strategic needs and priorities for all aspects of HR across the functions including but not limited to: finance, IT, communications and public affairs, enterprise marketing and data, legal and security.

In 2016, Devni joined The Estee Lauder Companies as director human resources for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa region, where she was responsible for HR leadership.

As a respected, forward-thinking leader known for driving company transformation, she also played a critical role in crisis management where she has been leading the future of work strategy. She was also responsible for developing, driving, and overseeing people, culture and organisational strategies in partnership with business leaders to support the digital transformation in the beauty industry

In 2020 she was appointed to the expanded role as inclusion and diversity director in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia) promoting actions against racial in equity, gender-based violence, equality, and driving local relevancy initiatives with oversight across 28 countries in EMEA. She held this role while still responsible for driving human resources, people and culture in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

One of her last projects included adapting the business post-Covid realities (consumer and employee) and pivoting to growth areas like virtual selling, omni-channel and metaverse technology

Her advice for meaningful success is: “Own your story – the highs and the lows – because, in the end, it forms part of one big success story.

If I had to break that down I would say living by the following principles has been part of my overall success:

  • A positive, can-do, attitude with a willingness to roll up your sleeves
  • When you think you are done, make it better. Having a burning passion to want to accomplish what most people might call “unreasonable expectations”.
  • Be you! Being someone else all day is just plain exhausting.
  • Ability to remain flexible and agile in an ever-changing environment along with a willingness to always learn.

“A sense of humour helps – the ability to laugh at yourself is important especially in the world of HR,” she concludes.

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