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IWD 2021. My Story: Annalise Fard

On International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the amazing women in our business. Harrods is a place that looks to challenge the perception that you need to be a certain type of person to succeed. We spoke to Annalise Fard, Director of Beauty, Accessories, Fine Jewellery & Watches get her thoughts on #choosetochallenge, working at Harrods and inspiring others who may want to work in their industry.

What advice would you give to women working in your industry?
Work hard, create your own opportunities, build strong relationships and most importantly, always be kind. Respectful, strong relationships go a very long way in buying, and if kindness is at the core, they will take you a very long way.

What is your proudest achievement at Harrods?
I have so many – from my first buyership over twenty years ago, to being promoted to a Harrods Director. The ultimate achievement for me though was the unveiling of the new Beauty Halls in 2019. It was the culmination of many years of thinking “what would I do if….”, extensive global insight and research, and an ambition to create the ultimate Beauty experience for our clients. I worked alongside an incredibly talented to team deliver a globally recognised, world-class luxury Beauty emporium that I have no doubt will enjoy a celebrated legacy at Harrods for many years to come.

What does Choose to Challenge mean to you?
From challenge comes change and it’s, therefore, an opportunity for us all to challenge ourselves to call out inequality, question biases, always support a fully inclusive world and lead by example.

Tell us a little bit about your career story?
From an early age I recognised I had a strong eye for detail, a passion for luxury and an ability to successfully invest money (….or mainly other people’s, so my father says!), so a career in retail and buying felt like a very natural fit. I am extremely lucky to have worked for two iconic brands in the luxury industry, from two very different angles.

I began my career in Harrods in 1997, as a Senior Buyers Clerk for Furniture and stayed until 2002, during which time I became a Buyer in Beauty before leaving to work for Marica Kilgore and her excitingly innovative brand Bliss. Bliss was changing the beauty product and treatment landscape at the time, and it was both daunting and exhilarating to leave a huge corporate machine and land in this self-motivating, start-up environment where you could make anything possible.

Afterwards, I returned to Harrods in 2007 as General Merchandise Manager for Beauty, alongside holding the GMM role for Childrenswear and Fine Jewellery too. I was promoted to Director of Home in 2013 and am now responsible for Beauty, Home, Fine Jewellery & Watches.

Why did you want to work at Harrods?
In the first instance, the desire to work for the world’s most luxurious department store was thrilling, and I cannot say that feeling has ever lasted me!

My return to Harrods 14 years ago however was driven by my belief that at Harrods you can achieve anything you want if you work hard and strive to succeed. By then I had figured out what made me tick, who my authentic self was, and that Harrods and I were a pretty good fit for each other!

What projects are you currently working on?
Across the whole division, the team and I are working on so many exciting projects, including the launch of a compelling Outdoor Lifestyle space across Furniture, Home and Technology, the debut of the new 5th floor Hair & Beauty Salon in the Summer and exciting brand enhancements in Fine Watches.

The main project now though is the evolution of our stand-alone Beauty concept H Beauty and the opening of our second location in Milton Keynes at the end of April. The ability to customise and express our individuality through beauty today is extraordinary and H Beauty truly speaks to the #choosetochallenge method – it is an inclusive environment we created to salute who you are and for who you want to be!

How have you seen women’s equality change over the years?
The development of the Harrods values for me represents how equity has evolved for everyone within our organisation. From ‘we are human’ to we build trust’ and ‘we are one’, the Harrods culture today offers flexibility and support to allow women and men to have choices in the workplace and achieve their goals.

It’s also important to note that when I first became a Director, there were only two other women Directors in the business and now women represent over 50%, so plenty of room for everyone at the table!

Share a few examples of where you have seen the best practice/bad experiences of women in the workplace...
During my career, I have been lucky enough to work directly for some extremely inspirational women and it’s fair to say I have learnt what to do and what not to do in equal measures! Regardless though, all these lessons are invaluable, and I carry them forwards in everything I do.

The most significant thing I have experienced, and therefore learnt though, is that a leader who has empathy and emotional intelligence can have an extremely positive impact on someone’s life and is therefore highly valuable!

Why do you support International Women’s Day?
I am a huge advocate of everyone, men, and women, being treated equally and with full parity. International Women’s Day is therefore an opportunity to celebrate the advancements we have made towards achieving this and a time to reflect and consider what still needs to be done.

Highlighting and shining a light on successful women within our business, hopefully, motivates and inspires everyone to fulfil their own aspirations and reach their full potential.

Do you mentor other women? 
I have personally had the opportunity to mentor many women over many years, both inside and outside our organisation, and coaching, nurturing and empowering talent to reach their full potential is one of the greatest joys. My ambition is always to be a role model and confidant and I very much look forward to supporting many more women in the future too.

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