Combining traditional plant medicine with innovation: Discover Ishan’s L’Oréal Great Story

Born in a humble family in Sri Lanka, Ishan’s perseverance and curiosity gave him a career path that is an inspiration for many. From engaging in Tsunami relief work, and pursuing Microbiology to being sponsored to study abroad, and to introducing Ayurveda (traditional plant-based medicine) at L’Oréal- his journey is one of entrepreneurship in action! Discover Ishan’s #LOrealGreatStory:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and grew up in a tiny fishermen village called Hikkaduwa in southern Sri Lanka. Until the advanced level, I studied in my town and then moved to Bangalore, India to pursue B.SC in Microbiology, Genetics, and Biochemistry.

Later, I came to France for an M.SC in Quality Assurance at the Université de Bourgogne and a Specialized master’s in Quality management at Arts et Métiers Paris Tech in Paris. During my post-graduate studies, I had the opportunity to carry out fixed-term contracts in the Biomedical industry.

What experiences impacted you early in life?

As someone who wants to support people, I worked in a Tsunami Refugee camp at the age of 15. I was associated with an association called Green Hope whose purpose was improving Tsunami victims’ lives. From helping children go to school, to providing spectacles to the village elders, I was helping my country recover from Tsunami.

I also assisted the French medical staff for Tsunami relief as a translator and this is when I got introduced to the French language and culture. Soon, I started volunteering to teach French for beginners at Alliance Française in Galle, Sri Lanka.

What brought you to France and why?

After meeting French people during Tsunami relief, I got more interested in France and its culture. I always wanted to study abroad but did not get the opportunity to, as my family couldn’t afford it. I wrote a letter to my network in France, whom I met through the Green Hope association and my job as a tourist guide, and asked if they could help me financially. They all united to sponsor my education in France and here I am today!

How did you come to L’Oréal?

In Sri Lanka, L’Oréal products are considered Luxury products. I was really attracted to L’Oréal in Asia but never thought I could be a part of this wonderful family one day.

After coming to France, it was my dream to be a part of this company, so after completing my thesis and with the support of the CHRO, I went through several interviews and got an opportunity to join the group. I should highlight that his support was remarkable in the phase of recruitment. Without his engagement, I would not be able to come this far.

What does your work at L’Oréal look like?

Currently, I am working in the Corporate Quality management team, where I oversee the Quality Alerts of Finished goods. When there is a nonconformity detected, a quality alert is published by the plant to alert the concerned person, so I follow up with the alerts at the Corporate team. I have to deal with the Plant Quality team, Zone quality team, and R&I teams.

I am in charge of following up on Microbiology Nonconformity at the corporate level. I also publish the Monthly Groupe Quality letter called Quality Essential, where I work with different parties to communicate the group’s indicators to different communities.

My favorite thing about L’Oréal is the multicultural environment. We have a lot of chances to meet people from different countries and cultures, and we are free to develop our own projects within the group.

What is something you are passionate about?

I am passionate about Ayurvedic medicine. As a child, I wanted to be a doctor of Ayurvedic medicine, because it uses medicinal plants found in nature, as the treatment. In the oriental culture, we use plants with medicinal properties in daily life like Curcuma or neem for disinfection. I was always passionate about those plants and their efficacy.

Ayurveda is practiced in Sri Lanka and India as a medical treatment. I believe as a L’Oréal employee, I can make the best out of this medicine type to make people more beautiful and confident. This is something I am passionate to bring in the group! The goal of this project will be to enlarge the Cosmetics Market by introducing a new range of products within the Indian sub-continent and then scaling it up to Europe and other developed countries. When I presented my project, the leaders showed great interest, encouraged me, and supported me to get in contact with helpful people. The HR team is planning to enhance my skills in commerce by giving me an opportunity in the field. This is a clear example that shows L’Oréal gives chance to develop your innovative idea by supporting and coaching you.

What values do you still hold today?

I am from a humble family where my father was a fisherman and my mother used to make rope out of coconut fiber. I have 3 brothers and 1 sister who are in Sri Lanka. Since my childhood, the villagers have considered me a very warm person. I always performed well in school, did not have a lot of friends, but I always wanted to help people whenever they needed me. Caring for other people is one of my qualities, and that’s why I worked for a humanity association based in Sri Lanka. I am someone who is perseverant and positive in all life situations. I strongly believe in the words of Albert Einstein “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

Finally, any tips to apply to L’Oréal?

Be original and be yourself! The L’Oréal community is open-minded to new ideas and embraces them. I would like to say, whenever if you have an innovative idea, you should work hard to prove it and show it to your manager and the HR team. After constructing a clear vision of where and what you want to go in the future, you can have opportunities with the support of both sides.

In terms of recruitment, you should never give up! You have to be strong enough to argue why you want to be a part of the company, in your interviews. You should never hesitate to put your opinion on the table. And always talk to as many people as you can!

If you think you are looking for a way to channel your entrepreneurial spirit like Ishan, then apply to one of our positions today!

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If you’re an impact seeking inventor, a driver of disruption, join us to lead the Beauty innovation to the next level www.careers.loreal.com

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