MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Van Cleef and Arpels, Mr. Alessandro Maffi's Presentation

By Aurore Basly, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2015-2016, France

While in Dubai, we had the pleasure of having Alessandro Maffi present to the class. Mr. Maffi is the Managing Director Middle East and India for Van Cleef & Arpels (“VC&A”) and has been working in this market for 10 years. He kindly took the time to share with us his experience, as well as the key macroeconomic and political challenges of the Middle Eastern market. He also mentioned the main factors to keep in mind in order to build a successful business in the region.

First, innovation is key. While VC&A is and has always been a Maison de Joaillerie for the past 110 years built on exceptional craftsmanship and a long heritage, it also benefits from a unique organizational structure, which enables teams from all levels to work closely together and which also bolsters creative thinking. Mr. Maffi discussed at length the concept of Shumpeter’s “creative destruction”, essential to creating perpetual competitive advantages. He also emphasized that innovation is critical when entering unexplored markets. Using this concept, VC&A is thriving because of its people flexibility and its ability to quickly react to the market. 

Second, Mr. Maffi detailed other main leverages key in building a sustainable business. The first priority must be effective client relationship management. Undeniably, the Maison deeply cares about its clients and wishes to build and maintain a special relationship over time, especially with the local clientele. Mastering supply chain is also a crucial element (having the right product, at the right place, at the right time helps VC&A be very responsive to the market). Finally, the Maison builds on its people training (with the aim of always being the reference by excellence), heritage (fostering the uniqueness of the Maison) and education (to allow all stakeholders to get to know V&CA and its key values). 

Aspiring to work in the jewelry industry after the program and having worked at the Louvre Museum previously, I praise VC&A for its heritage, exceptional artistic talent and craftsmanship. What I really liked about this presentation is that we got a glimpse into the company’s corporate culture: flexibility, innovation, team work and excellence. It was enriching and enlightening to hear about Mr. Maffi’s daily routine with the staff and his insights about the challenges faced by the jewelry industry today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

DFS Group, the world’s leading travel retailer, opens its doors to future industry professionals from ESSEC

By Johannes Ader, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2015-2016, Germany

One of the first stops on our exciting field trip to Hong Kong, was the headquarters of leading luxury travel retailer DFS. Founded in Hong Kong in 1960, the company’s global operations include stores in more than 18 major airports and 14 downtown T Galleria by DFS stores, across Asia Pacific, the US and the Middle East. 

The afternoon kicked off with a presentation by the company’s global VP of Human Resources and the Director of Strategy & Market Development, followed by a lively Q&A session. Both introduced us to the world of DFS, its history, inspiring work-mentality and exciting upcoming developments in Venice and Paris. 

For us students, it was especially interesting to hear from DFS how luxury business can be conducted in Asia Pacific in light of today’s challenges, such as facing a decreasing growth in China and the digitalization of consumers. 

The third speaker, Charles Bell, himself an alumnus of ESSEC’s MBA in International Luxury Brand Management (Class of 2013), shared his inspiring career journey with us and gave an insight into his work as Assistant General Manager for luxury jewelry at the T Galleria by DFS, Macau, Shoppes at Four Seasons.

The presentation was followed by an on-site tour of T Galleria by DFS, Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui East at the Chinachem Golden Plaza. The students had the opportunity to experience the dynamics of DFS’ operations closely and better understand how different types of customers are catered to and managed. It was fascinating to learn how a T Galleria by DFS store is operated behind the scenes and how DFS manages to provide excellent service and product assortments, tailored to the needs of its shoppers. 


Discussions were taken further at the following reception, kindly hosted by DFS. Here, students had the chance to learn more in detail about the world of DFS and future careers in the company. The reception was joined by a group of directors and managers of DFS to meet the students. 

In review, the class reflected that the afternoon was an excellent chance to gain insight into an industry leader such as DFS and to meet and interact with the team behind it. 

On a personal note, the meeting with DFS marked one of the trip’s highlights and, on behalf of the ESSEC MBA in International Luxury Brand Management, Class of 2016, I like to thank the team of DFS for the inspiring day. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Meet the Students - Joshua Tierney from the United States

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

Before joining the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management, I was working in New York as the Executive Creative Director of an Catering and Event Planning company. I managed the design team and conceptualized and produced events for high-profile corporate and private clients, and looked after marketing initiatives as well.  I was also an adjunct instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

  • Why did you decide to join the MBA?

I have always believed that the most successful artists, designers, and creatives are those who have a solid understanding of business. I attended design school for my undergraduate degrees and have always worked in creative industries. I joined the MBA to build a stronger foundation in business and for a diverse, international experience. Fashion and design are in my DNA - I attended FIT in New York and have always worked in and around luxury fashion, hospitality, and design.  

  • What do you hope to achieve throughout the year?

I hope to achieve a deeper understanding of all aspects of the luxury business. ESSEC's rich industry relationships have already begun to facilitate this learning goal. Pushing beyond my comfort zone with regards to my current professional knowledge and core competencies will give me a broader and more well-rounded perspective of business. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me, personally and professionally.

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

In the short to mid term, I would like to build upon what I was doing pre-MBA. I'd like to apply my knowledge of event and design management for the fashion or beauty businesses in a role that melds creativity and business. Product development, marketing, visual merchandising - there are many functions that I am interested in. Career satisfaction is very linked with passion and professional fulfillment for me - I have to love what I'm doing. 

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

Think long and hard about what you want to do and what your options are. I researched MBA programs for three years by visiting schools, talking to alumni, and defining who am I was and who I want to become in the future.  Ultimately, I applied only to ESSEC because it was the only program that resonated with me. You will give up a lot to join the program - most likely your friends, family, country, job, and income, among other things.  But you will gain a lot, too - knowledge, a deeper understanding of yourself, new friends, new experiences, and a professional network that will take you into the next chapters of your career.  Know who you are, and be true to yourself.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A brief recap of a very busy couple of weeks in Dubai and Hong Kong

By Teresa Chen, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2015-2016, Australia/Taiwan

Nothing would have prepared us for what was to come in the two weeks we spent abroad in HK and Dubai for our MBA field trip.

They say that you don't know someone until you've lived with them and this is indeed true; spending two entire weeks together bonded us as a class on a whole new level.

The field trip schedule is meticulously organized by our program to maximize our time abroad. We met top industry people (some of which are alumni of ESSEC) from LVMH group, Richemont group, Kering group, DFS, Chalhoub, Chanel, Dior Couture, Tiffany&Co., Audemars Piguet, Armani Hotel, L'Oréal, Estée Lauder, Van Cleef & Arpels. All the guest speakers gave insightful and inspiring talks which opened our eyes to the APAC and Middle Eastern markets. It was an unique experience and great opportunity that one would never find elsewhere.

In between busily attending conferences and presentations, navigating google maps in a foreign country, meeting up with old and new contacts, and juggling cups of coffee and tea, we also had fun. A lot of it!

Many of my classmates experienced the local cuisines of Hong Kong, dim sum brunch, the vibrant night scenes of Lan Kwai Fong, and shopping in Asian cosmetic stores. Second supper at 2am became a temporary routine; not much sleep took place in a city that never sleeps! After one action-packed week we flew to Dubai, where we were impressed by the grand architecture and high service levels in this luxurious city. In between conferences we visited the one and only Dubai Mall and its boutiques, soaked up some sunshine at the Jumeirah islands, Atlantis at The Palm, visited the gold souk, and even went on a dessert safari. It was a tough decision to board our flight to return to 4 degrees snowy Paris!

It was a most memorable and one of the best trips I've had, and I'm sure the whole class feels the same way. Luckily the year is not over yet and we still have a few more treats to look forward to together in 2016.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meet the Students - Angela Gutierrez from Colombia

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

Before joining the program, I had been working for almost 6 years in the aftersales division of General Motors in Colombia. I held positions in supply chain, pricing and most recently in marketing, where I handled product development, worked with CRM initiatives for the Chevrolet dealers and coordinated commercial strategies with insurance companies.