MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meet the Students - Dana Dinges from the United States

  •  What were you doing before you joined the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management Program?

For the past two years, I have been living in Strasbourg, France studying French and enhancing my understanding of French culture. This semester, I completed a course in French about the travel industry alongside native French speakers from the International Hospitality program. It was a great benchmark for my progress in language learning and an excellent way to interact with students from other programs.   

Before moving to France, I was General Manager for two home furnishings showrooms in New York City. I worked for a family owned business which was founded in NYC and beloved by the interior design community. Located in the famed Design & Decoration (D&D) Building which houses over 130 showrooms, Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman is a favorite destination amongst interior designers and architects in the know.  My job as General Manager was extremely dynamic and no one day was ever the same. It was a challenging position of managing operational excellence while balancing strategic objectives. From vendor relations to visual merchandising to sales and customer service, I wore many hats and enjoyed the diversity.  We formed a motivated, tight-knit team servicing designers and architects not only from the New York-area but also from top markets around the world.      

  • Why did you decide to join the MBA?

When I started investigating international MBA programs, a friend who worked at Louis Vuitton recommended I look into ESSEC.  When I read about the MBA for International Luxury Brand Management, I knew I did not need to look any further.  The program spoke to every need I had to expand upon my own experience and understanding of the luxury industry.  Located in Paris, the luxury capital of the world, I saw the added value of ESSEC’s program which immerses students in the heart of the industry.  In the classroom, we are not only analyzing brands and marketing strategies; we are also exploring manufacturing business models and identifying specific types of savoir-faire or know-how which help brands to achieve a highly differentiated product.  Vertical integration and value chain analysis inspire passionate discussions and new perspectives on how to maintain competitive advantages in the industry.  

  • What do you hope to achieve throughout the year?

My desire is to not only deepen my understanding of the luxury sector, but also explore my own sense of creative expression.  Coming from the home furnishings industry and having studied interior design, I possess an inherent understanding of working in a highly creative field but the linkage between the creative and business sides of the luxury industry is at the core of my personal journey.  Having worked in sales and management, my goals were identifiable and measurable.  Now, to stoke my own creative fire, I spend time taking long walks in Cergy and around Paris.  Recently, during Fashion Week, I purchased a book about women photographers at the beginning of the twentieth century.  I have started to explore my own eye for photography, using Instagram filters to share on social media.  I have visited several photography exhibitions in Paris this fall and I look forward to hitting the streets again in the New Year to discover even more.  

  • What are your professional goals after you finish the MBA?

My goal is to find a position within an industry leading corporation where I will be able to not only apply the knowledge that I have learned from my MBA but also incorporate my twelve years of experience in luxury home furnishings.  Right now, I am intrigued by the beauty industry as it seems to be quite dynamic and forward thinking.  Brands like Estée Lauder, Clarins, and L’Oréal inspire me to think about how I can translate my professional experience into a new setting.  I can also visualize myself working for a lifestyle brand given my background.  A designer brand like Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, or Hermès seem natural since I am curious about the different product categories of a lifestyle brand markets including fashion, jewelry, fragrance and cosmetics, plus home décor and furniture.      

  • What advice would you give to someone who is applying to the program?

ESSEC’s MBA of International Luxury Brand Management is a first class ticket into the world of luxury and savoir-faire.  There is no better program to understand the essence of what makes luxury brands successful today and from where that success originates.  ESSEC’s curriculum is offering first-hand interaction with some of the world’s most powerful brands and gives unique insight into these brands.  My classmates are top notch from a highly diverse, global background.  The program is intense and packed with exclusive opportunities that I believe no other business school can provide.  Study up on the industry and begin following the macroeconomic trends and how they connect to luxury consumption.  Pay attention to luxury companies mentioned in business publications and develop a sense of who the key players are and how they work.  Also, start intensive French lessons to prepare for life in France.  While course are in English and most Parisians do speak English, it’s still important to be able to communicate in French.