Carole Gardner Diarra
Vice President of Marketing
Garnier Skincare, L’Oreal USA
New York City
Carole Diarra used sheer ambition and drive to go from being an Avon sales representative at age 14 to being vice president of marketing at the Garnier Skincare division of L’Oreal USA, the U.S. arm of one of the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty companies. Since joining L’Oreal in 2006, she has moved through various senior roles to work on global innovations and marketing. These positions allowed her to live in France for five years, an opportunity she describes as the biggest, yet most rewarding, challenge of her life, professionally and personally. More than a defining achievement, living in France helped Diarra to refine her business sense. She learned to navigate complex multicultural perspectives and obtained valuable insights into global business challenges. “I have a much broader sense of how culture and business norms affect business outcomes and how people work together,” she says.
Diarra attributes her business acumen and career success to the late Suzanna Wray, her first boss and mentor at L’Oreal; to Martin Rodgers, a former boss at Accenture who encouraged her to pursue an MBA at Harvard University; and to her studies at the two top universities she attended. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University in 1999 and an MBA from Harvard University School of Business in 2004. Diarra continues to challenge herself personally and professionally, balancing her work at L’Oreal with family life and volunteering with various charitable organizations and community service groups. She is the current chair of Crimson Impact, the social and community service arm of Harvard Club of New York, and through the club works with nonprofits such as New York Needs You, an organization committed to economic empowerment of low-income college students. The one thing she would most like to do, time and money permitting, is become a talk show host.