Posted Friday 12 January 2024
Kingston University has awarded an honorary degree to a former graduate who went on to co-found leading British beauty brand ELEMIS in recognition of her outstanding contribution to business and marketing.
Oriele Frank received the accolade during a graduation ceremony celebrating the achievements of students from the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences. It marked the second time she has crossed the stage to be honoured by her alma mater, having previously earned an undergraduate degree in business studies with French from the University in 1988.
Ms Frank co-founded ELEMIS in 1990, a few years after graduating from Kingston, with co-founder and investor Linda Steiner and fellow co-founders Sean Harrington and Noella Gabriel. Since then, she has played a pivotal role in its product and brand development, as well as the company’s international growth, drawing on marketing skills she gained during her degree studies.
Reflecting on her time at university, Ms Frank credited her course with helping steer her career. “The combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills I acquired during my time at Kingston University was instrumental in preparing me for the challenges and opportunities in my career,” she said. “Two six-month placements were particularly invaluable in finding out what I enjoyed. I discovered banking wasn’t for me, but innovative, creative, entrepreneurial business was.”
Receiving the news that she was to be named an Honorary Doctor of the University meant an enormous amount to her, Ms Frank said. “It fills me with immense pride and gratitude to be recognised by an institution that played such a pivotal role in shaping my future,” she said. “An honorary degree is not just a recognition of past achievements – it is a call for me to continue striving for excellence, uphold the values of business and be a force for good.”
Today, as the brand’s Chief Product and Sustainability Officer, Ms Frank sits on the Board of Directors at ELEMIS, leading on boosting its sustainability and corporate social responsibility vision globally, researching cutting-edge technologies and overseeing the next generation of skin, body and wellness products. Her recent accomplishments include seeing ELEMIS achieve B Corp certification in 2023 and presenting at COP28 in Dubai on The Great British Beauty Clean Up – the company’s initiative to improve waste reduction in the beauty industry.
Having recently added a qualification in sustainability leadership from Cambridge University to her credentials, Ms Frank encouraged graduates to keep learning. “Education is energising, exciting and empowering.” she said. “I would advise Kingston University graduates to embrace every opportunity, stay resilient in the face of challenges and foster a lifelong love for learning.”
She urged them to embrace new advances in technology, outlining learnings from her career. “Business and marketing have changed dramatically in the past few decades. My cohort, for example, has had to adapt to new advances such as e-commerce and social media,” she said. “In the fast-paced business landscape, I encourage graduates to stay open to adapting, continuously upskill, embrace innovation and make the most of advances in technology.”
The University’s Head of Enterprise Education, Dr Martha Mador, praised Ms Frank for her contributions to business and marketing and for using her skills to inspire the next generation of businesspeople. “Oriele Frank is always one step ahead of the industry and a true inspiration to our students,” Dr Mador said. “Many have benefited from guest lectures she has delivered or student enterprise activities she has facilitated. She has also been a keen contributor to Kingston University’s sector leading Future Skills campaign, sharing her industry insight at roundtable events and, most recently, joining us for the launch of our latest Future Skills report at the House of Commons.”