A fashionable business – two alumni talk about their careers in luxury fashion
Despite the global economic downturn, luxury brands continue to thrive. We speak to two Hult alumni in two very different roles in the world of luxury fashion; Monica Savini manages Private Client Relations at Louis Vuitton, and Thomas Drischel has his own business creating luxury accessories for men.
Monica Savini, Class of 2011, One-Year MBA
What were you up to before joining Hult?
I was working in the Marketing and Communication department of Louis Vuitton in Paris, overlooking global events. I was in charge of everything from big store openings to product launches and corporate projects. I had a great time, being inspired by great leaders, and learning so much along the way. I used to travel quite often, all over the world, and was privileged to have access to the most important communications strategies for the brand.
What made you decide to join the MBA program at Hult?
Since I was 27, I have had this idea that one day I would like to do an MBA program. Having already completed Master in Arts and Humanities, I often felt that I was lacking the analytical and quantitative approach often needed to tackle large-scale business projects. I wanted to complement my artistic side with numbers! Pre-MBA, I often described numbers as a “big ocean,” but now I feel the MBA has actually helped me to stay afloat, and feel comfortable when dealing with numbers.[Tweet “Why an MBA? I wanted to complement my artistic side with numbers!”]
How do the skills and knowledge you acquired at Hult help you in your current role?
The skills I acquired at Hult certainly allowed me to become more confident, and helped me to focus on the quantitative side of my job. I felt that the MBA turned me into a more rational person, and provided me with the experience of working within an international team. At Hult, I also developed my presentation and communication skills, which has definitely better prepared me for the leadership element of my role.
What do you see as the major challenges and opportunities in your industry over the coming years?
I think the most challenging aspect would be to stay at pace with technology, and the younger generation of luxury fashion consumers. Any historical brand will, at some point, face the same question; how do we integrate technology from a social perspective without jeopardizing our brand identity, or the aspirational and emotional feelings attached to luxury goods?[Tweet “How do we integrate technology from a social perspective without jeopardizing our brand identity?”]
What advice would you give to other Hult students or alums looking to move into the luxury goods industry?
I feel that being passionate about the product and the brand you work with is extremely important. Also, showing humbleness in going about your day-to-day duties is vital—the luxury industry should not scare people; it should be part of an aspirational journey.
Thomas Drischel, Class of 2014, Executive MBA
What were you up to before joining Hult?
Before joining Hult, I was working as General Manager for Galeries Lafayette, a French retail company specializing in fashion and luxury goods. I was based in Metz, 200km east of Paris, and in charge of a store with 300 employees, and a turnover of €32 million.
What made you decide to join the Execuitve MBA program at Hult?
Before working as a General Manager, I completed a master degree in Strasbourg, and an MBA in Paris. However, I always wanted to study at a top international business school and challenge myself studying alongside international students and inspiring professors. Even though I was fluent in English, I still wanted to get out of my comfort zone and face new and exciting challenges.
With the great international exposure Hult offered, I knew it would be the best way be inspired and gain the latest business tools for my entrepreneurial project. The amazing network that I had the opportunity to build was also a strong point. Leaving an amazing job in a renowned company in order to launch a personal brand requires knowing yourself and your abilities—Hult’s EMBA was definitely the perfect way for me to realize my entrepreneurial and personal ambitions.[Tweet “Leaving an amazing job to launch a personal brand requires knowing yourself and your abilities.”]
How did the skills, knowledge, and network you acquired at Hult help you to achieve your dream of setting up your own brand?
By creating Robert Kerr, a luxury accessories brand for men, I had the obligation to understand the market on an international scale, and adapt my value proposition to customers. That’s why, having the opportunity to do the Executive MBA over two years, studying and working in groups with students from all over the world, helped me to better understand the purchasing behavior of other countries.
During the first year of the EMBA, my professors helped me to build my business plan, by sharing with me their business knowledge and experience. Other students, who are now close friends of mine, helped me to better understand myself, by giving me valuable feedback and advice. It was an amazing and unforgettable personal experience.
What advice would you give other Hult students or alums looking to go it alone in the luxury goods industry?
Passion and love are the most important things, when going it alone in any industry—you truly need to believe in yourself, your product, and what you want to achieve. Be patient, determined, curious, and open-minded all at once. The market is so difficult and surrounded by big, influential companies, and multi-million dollar marketing campaigns; you really need to know your customers in order to provide them with the perfect product.
Don’t be afraid to take time to prepare your business model, and roundup your financial obligations when starting out. In the luxury industry, customer experience, attention to detail, and consistency are essential for long-term success. Also, don’t be afraid of sharing your idea with family and friends who are not in your business field; they will give you an outside view on how your brand is perceived.[Tweet “Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea with family and friends who are not in your business field.”]
If you decide to venture alone into the luxury industry, take the time to be surrounded by talented and professional people, because nothing is more important than being around people you can trust and rely on. And, most importantly, don’t be scared of working 24/7 when you start out—being an entrepreneur comes at a price, but the extra hours certainly pay off.
Step up your game with executive education at Ashridge agile business school. To find out more, take a look at our blog Why there’s no time like the present to start your Executive MBA, or firm up your exec career footing with a Masters in International Business from Hult. Download a brochure or get in touch today to find out how Hult can help you learn everything about the business world, the future, and yourself.