Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat,unconventional and fascinating career?

Each year the Fragrance Foundation recognizes a select group of young executives under the age of 30 for distinguishing themselves through impressive ideas, team contributions and hard work. These notable movers and shakers are creating the future of the fragrance industry.

Among “The Notables” for 2016 is Gayathri Balasundar, Marketing Manager at IFF.

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Gayathri has been with International Flavors & Fragrances since 2014 and is a leader on the North America marketing team. A graduate of Binghamton University and the FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management Program, Gayathri initially entered the industry as a brand marketer where she discovered her passion for fragrances before joining IFF.

We had a chance to sit down with her on this exciting occasion and get her views on work, life and play:

Gayathri, tell us more about what do you do at IFF?

GB: I am a part of the marketing team at IFF focusing on fine fragrance. It’s my job to be in-the-know on what’s going on in the fragrance world and beyond. I watch, listen and read everything I can to find the patterns and trends in our lives. I research and analyze the market as well as understand people’s fragrance behaviors to come up with new fragrance concepts and ideas. Most of the time, you can find me immersed in PowerPoint prepping for client presentations where I develop and share fragrance and brand stories.

What’s it like to work at IFF?

GB: IFF is one of the largest companies in the fragrance world yet has a small company feel. It allows and encourages us to be flexible, agile and creative. The environment is very empowering – if you have an idea and believe in it, this is the place that will help you bring it to life.

Any tips for anyone looking to enter the industry?

GB: You have to have passion – passion for fragrance, products and stories. The purpose of our industry is to provide people with the tools to look and feel good. At the end of the day we create products that spark the senses and transform the everyday.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

GB: I am on a constant pursuit of all things wellness and travel! Running is definitely a passion – It’s something I love to do but is hardly ever easy! I love to run different streets and beaches and parks around the world. I especially love it when I travel – I can feel every new place raw and unfiltered with all my senses when I run; the pavement or sand under my feet, the scent of new and exotic plants, the sound of ocean waves or just pure silence and the sight of a new sunrise against so many different backdrops!

How do you stay inspired and creative?

GB: Inspiration and creativity strike only if you are curious. At IFF, we are always asking and always answering. Curiosity isn’t innate but it’s something we can work to cultivate. I am always curious about “the why”. I love taking the time to smell the roses. Literally! It’s like a mediation to slow everything down and engage your sense of smell and really feel the scent around you. I love walking in NYC and listening to the stories, the scents, the sounds – they all make for a unique combination that is hard to find just anywhere. A city that’s made by its pedestrians- there is an energy and rhythm here that fuel and inspires my passion.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Foundation and by my IFF team,” says Gayathri. “I am sincerely grateful to work in a place that allows me the freedom to create and collaborate with so many people who share my passion and inspire me.”