MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, June 16, 2014

Investing in Human Capital

By Emily Albright, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, USA

As the school year draws closer and closer to an end, many of us have found ourselves asking, “how did a year pass by already?!” It seems like only a few weeks ago we were meeting our classmates for the first time and adjusting to life as a graduate student. But here we are, nearly nine months later, and nearly ready to take the luxury industry by storm. It would be an understatement to say that we’ve come a long way, not just academically, but personally and professionally as well.

As I’ve reflected on this MBA experience in recent weeks, one of the most important lessons I think we’ve all learned is to invest time in our fellow classmates. Human capital is one of the most valuable currencies, especially in a setting like ESSEC, where we are all extremely diverse and come from more than 15 different countries. Learning from each other here will help prepare us for experiences outside of the classroom in this international and tight-knit industry. Investing in internal relationships with classmates is just as important as the time spent studying, networking, and interviewing.

During our recent visit to Switzerland (also known as our final all-class field trip) to meet with the team from Audemars Piguet at their manufacturing headquarters in Le Brassus, I was reminded of just how far we’ve come as a group. During our all-class fondue dinner, I looked around the restaurant and realized that no one of the same nationality was sitting together – American, French, Indian, Chinese – we were all interspersed. More than this, we were all enjoying each other’s company and taking the opportunity to get caught up on life and goings-on outside of the classroom. This may sound fairly basic, but for a group of 40 diverse adults that spends as much time studying together as we do, that’s saying something!

We’ve all come to a point where we respect each other and value our differences, and we really try to learn from each other. It’s difficult to imagine a time when I’ll have a social or political question about Indonesia and I won’t be in the same room with at least two friends who are more than willing to answer! But soon enough we will all be following our separate paths. And it’ll be nice to know we’re walking away with 39 new contacts in the luxury industry.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Visit to Audemars Piguet

By Pawel Zawisza, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management student 2013-2014, Poland

Towards the end of our MBA program we got a chance to visit the manufacture of Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus, in Switzerland. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the luxury watch industry.

Since its creation in 1875, the Audemars Piguet production site has been located in a picturesque part of Switzerland in the Jura Mountains, where many Swiss luxury watch brands are located. On the way to our hotel the night before, we passed the facilities of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breguet, and ETA, a well-known movement manufacturer belonging to the Swatch Group.

In the morning we were welcomed by the CEO himself, Mr. Bennahmias. The meeting was short but very enlightening, Mr. Bennahmias is a very talented public speaker and everyone was very happy to meet with him.

Afterwards some people made their way to the Audemars Piguet Museum, where we learned about the history of the region, the heritage of the company, as well as what it takes for a watch to be considered ‘Grand Complication’. The museum houses dozens of watches, including the original Royal Oak, considered the first luxury sport watch. For me the most impressive find was the Caliber 2870 watch from 1986 – the first self-winding tourbillon wristwatch. Even more remarkably; the watch was ultra-thin due to the movement being seamlessly integrated with the case, a feature once again making rounds in the watch industry due to the new Piaget Altiplano 900p!

Another group had the chance to visit the manufacturing facility. We were all impressed by how clean & sterile it was, almost pharmaceutical-like. We learned about different phases needed to produce a Royal Oak; how the company tests for watches being water resistant; how is the case assembled, etc. At the end of the tour everybody understood how much time and effort is spent on producing an Audemars Piguet watch, which justifies their very high price!

Audemars Piguet also proudly remains the oldest Haute Horologie brand still in the hands of its founding families.

Although it was just a weekend, the trip to Audemars Piguet in Switzerland was very memorable and I’m sure it will stay with everyone for a long time!

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Day at Krug

By Devika Malhotra, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, India

“To end with precision you have to start with precision”

 A breezy afternoon, a warm welcome and a generous toast by Ms. Margareth Henriquez, current President and CEO of the House of Krug, marked the beginning of a spectacular and informative day at the House of Krug. Her enthusiasm and passion ensured that each and every student sat up and listened. Her welcoming speech made us instantly feel a part of the Krug family.

“Patience at the service of elegance”
After enjoying Krug Grande Cuvée for the first time, we were escorted by Ms. Mylene Soulas, in charge of House Hospitality, around Krug’s cellars. She carefully explained each step for the creation of Krug Champagnes

205 liter oak barrels greeted us when starting the tour. They ensure the flexibility the House needs to respect the individuality of every plot (turn one plot into one wine) - the base of their undisputed quality philosophy - and also allow the first fermentation, which will give birth to the wines. We then caught a spectacular view of the bottles on the lees to allow for second fermentation, and aging for a minimum of 7 years for Krug Grande Cuvée and 10 years for a Vintage. As time passes, the fine bubbles reveal themselves and the distinctive Krug character emerges. At Krug, time is not a constraint, it is a strength.

Finally each bottle is riddled (vigorous right to left movement of the bottle to bring the sediment to the neck), until ready for disgorgement.

We also discovered Krug’s treasure, its wine library, stainless still tanks preserving wines dating back from 1998. Every year, Krug orchestrates the blending process using some of these reserve wines to re-create Krug Grande Cuvée.

We finished the tour with a sneak peek of a room full of numerous Krug vintages: the oldest bottle dates all the way back to 1880.

“Individuality is our basis of differentiation”

We ended the afternoon with a tasting session of three remarkable Krug Champagnes: Krug Grande Cuvée – a blend of around 120 wines, from 10 to 12 different years - and the Krug Vintages 2000 and 2003. It was interesting to notice that while all the Champagnes stood out individually, they were brought together by a common factor of perfect blends and balance.

The visit not only introduced us to a whole new world of Krug, but left us with new found respect, awe, fascination and appreciation for the brand. The authenticity, tradition, and heritage, the brand carries has been carefully preserved in the walls of these Krug cellars, and as Luxury MBA students at ESSEC we all felt extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to visit Krug.