For marketing mogul, Kendria Strong, working with brands that uplifted her spirits, her peers and her community was the ultimate dream. Godrej North America made that dream a reality.
Kendria Strong is the Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing and Innovation of Godrej North America where she works with some of the world’s leading Black and Brown brands such as African Pride®, Darling®, Curl Rehab®, AFROSHEEN®, Just for Me®, and more.
After spending a decade working in marketing and product development for multimillion-dollar textured haircare brands, Kendria knows what truly sells-out launches and energizes word of mouth consumer buzz—and it’s not mastering the marketing flavor of the week. At the root of any successful business, it is all about how well you connect with the heartbeat your consumer and communicate your understanding back to them through product and service.
Beauty is a key part of a woman’s day and hair styling can be a significant part of her identity that truly influences her routine and self-esteem. With that in mind, Kendria has experienced many rewarding and equally challenging moments throughout her career as she continues to bring innovative beauty products to the mass market. Kendria reimagines and restores diverse brands to reach beyond their potential, moving them into international spotlights as product innovators, marketing strategists and team builders.
“What I do at Godrej is so important to me because I am a Black woman,” said Kendra Strong Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing and Innovation of Godrej North America. “I grew up in the south with a very supportive family who taught me to carry my confidence, build my self-esteem up and believe that I can achieve anything I want in my career and personal life. My grandmother was a housekeeper and school teacher, my mom and her siblings were first-generation college students, so they’ve always championed the importance of education and hard work. They paved the way for me to succeed, and now I’m determined to pave the way for others behind me. It’s unexplainable how blessed I feel that something I’ve created has touched the life of a woman that I don’t know.”
Within her role, she weaves a culture of excellence and positive momentum into the fabric of the company through managing the planning and execution of powerful marketing, brand development strategies and innovation for key consumer product launches and making sure to always keep the needs of coily, curly hair women first.
“I love working with a team that’s as passionate and talented as mine across brands,” said Kendria Strong. “It’s even more rewarding to know that I have the responsibility to create career opportunities and help other women grow into their best professional and personal selves. I’m honored to open the door for women on my team and watch them go farther than me. The biggest challenge I have worked through is learning that I can’t be everything for everyone. Early in my career, it was unexplainably difficult to create boundaries and take time for myself, but you can’t pour from an empty cup! When I realized that I should never “work empty” and stopped sacrificing myself for the goals of my organization, I became a more creative thinker, stronger leader, and a better friend. It’s motivating to be in touch with myself, my inner circle and my faith to fill up my own cup, so that way I can pour into those around me.”
Godrej has experienced immense growth in recent years because of its adherence to its core brand values – “trust, be bold, create delight, own it, be humble and show respect.” Knowing that the heart of a business is its people – both employees and consumers – Godrej takes much pride in fostering an inspiring workplace and deeply committing to recognizing, valuing diversity across its global teams and celebrating it Black and Brown employees and consumers.
By having teams comprised of diverse backgrounds and representative of the women they serve, Godrej’s workforce allows for points of view and insights that might have otherwise been missed. Godrej recognizes that their consumers aren’t monolithic, and believes in fostering a culture of curiosity, openness, and variety. From this mindset they have learned how to better identify shopping trends and consumer habits that have led us to innovate truly impactful products. As more companies try to implement programs to improve employee diversity and satisfaction, Kendria recommends the first step should be organizational buy-in.
“The best way to champion this is to always to tie it back to your organization’s objectives,” said Kendra Strong. “People are every company’s best resource, so you’ll find success if you can detail out how DE&I programs can encourage productivity and maximize efficiency. If you can demonstrate how these programs can and do preserve and improve the company’s objectives as well as increase its bottom line, then it’s a no-brainer. These initiatives are so much more than a nice-to-do for companies – it’s crucial – so I’d definitely recommend creating a plan that shows how these programs are a must.”
Kendria’s inspiring professional philosophies and strategies for increase diversity, equity and inclusion programs, have contributed to her definition of success. Looking back on her career, Kendria hopes to inspire those in the beginning of their professional journey to recognize the power of a strong network of peers and friends and staying true to yourself.
“I’d tell my younger self that the top doesn’t feel as good if you don’t bring people with you,” remarked Kendria Strong. “In the beginning of my career, I was so focused on navigating and climbing the corporate ladder that I isolated myself and outpaced my friends. The journey to the top is much sweeter when you’re surrounded by people that you love. Your close circle is everything, and people who love you are the real treasure in life. What’s the point of achieving greatness if you don’t have anyone to celebrate it with. For young Black and Brown professionals who hope to be in an executive position, never lose sight of yourself. In life, you’re going to be exposed to different people, networks, jobs, etc. but you never want to change yourself to fit in because you were born to stand out. The best way to reach your dreams is to leverage your true self and treasure the things that make you unique. If you’re in a place where you feel like you’re not valued, it might not be the place for you. Your path in life should celebrate that your uniqueness, and those are the environments, social circles and jobs where you will thrive.”
Godrej North America is a subsidiary of the Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) division of the Godrej Group. GCPL offers premium-quality hair care products at affordable prices to women around the world through leading textured haircare brands including African Pride®, Beautiful Textures®, Curl Rehab®, Elasta QP®, Motions®, MegaGrowth®, Proline®, Soft & Beautiful®, TCB® and Darling®. To learn more about Godrej North America, please visit https://www.godrejnorthamerica.com/.