Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris

For many, Paris and luxury are interchangeable – or at the very least closely related. As the home of myriad designer brands and upmarket department stores, the French capital is the obvious choice if you’re looking to start or progress a career in the luxury industry.

Five reasons to study luxury brand management in Paris
Photos: ESSEC Business School

If you dream of working for luxury brands like Saint Laurent and Dior, a competitive degree from Paris-based ESSEC Business School could very well unlock the door. The Local sat down with a current student and a recent graduate of ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management and asked: Why Paris?

Location, location, location

It might seem obvious, but being nearby to the brands you want to work for is a huge advantage. While there is something to be said about trying one’s luck in up-and-coming places, if you’re looking to get ahead in the luxury industry, especially in brand management, there is probably nowhere better to start than Paris, the capital of luxury.

As Xi Yu, who completed her Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in 2018, points out, the abundance and diversity of opportunities in Paris is invaluable.

“Because there are so many opportunities in Paris, and so many paths you can take even in niche fields, you can fine-tune and calibrate your professional trajectory,” Xi Yu says.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management

Work with top designer brands

Photo: ESSEC Business School

As rewarding as studying might be, most professional development is driven by some kind of holy grail. For budding luxury brand managers, the goal is often to work with iconic Paris-based brands such as Dior, Montblanc, Céline, Saint Laurent, and Gucci.

For Xi Yu, her studies in Paris helped her transition from a managerial position in the car industry into the luxury travel retail industry at her dream employer – DFS at LVMH Group in Paris. After completing her final three-month consulting project with DFS, Xi Yu was offered a full-time position, and currently, she holds a managerial position in the opening team of DFS’s new department store in Paris.

 “I’m completing my rotation & training of DFS’s Accelerated Leadership Program in Hong Kong. In two weeks’ time, I’m going back to Paris to head up store operations of the upcoming store,” says Xi Yu.

Meet the right people 

As most professionals know well, to get the first foot in, regardless of how qualified you might be, can often be the hardest part of landing the job of your dreams. Merely being close to the right opportunities is not always enough: connections matter a great deal, particularly in certain industries – the luxury industry being one. With over 25 years teaching luxury brand management, Paris-based institutions such as ESSEC Business School have a close relationship with the luxury industry and link up students with their network of industry connections.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Alex Qian, a current student at the Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) at ESSEC Executive Education, has attended seminars given by guest speakers who work at heritage brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Dior. She appreciates the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and to learn from them about what it takes to stand out to headhunters and recruiters in the competitive luxury industry.

“Being in Paris means that ESSEC can work closely with the industry and the other way around, too,” says Alex Qian, who also works full-time at French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever and aspires to land a position in brand strategy at Tom Ford after the completion of ESSEC’s two-year program.

Find out more about ESSEC’s Executive Master in Luxury Management

Learn French – the lingo of luxury

Acquainting yourself with your industry is a must for anyone who hopes to rise the ranks. For luxury, being so enmeshed with France and French culture as it is, mastering the language of the land is a good investment. French is the workplace language at many luxury brands – even iconic German creative director Karl Lagerfeld was a lifelong learner of the language.

ESSEC alumni, many of whom pursued intensive on-campus French courses during the duration of their studies in Paris, attest that learning French was a key factor for professional success in Paris. For Xi Yu, her strong grasp of French was applauded during her first job interview in the city.

“Once I was admitted to ESSEC, I started taking full-time intensive French lessons in China – which helped me prepare for seizing job opportunities in Paris’s luxury industry,” says Xi Yu.

Photo: ESSEC Business School

Rub shoulders with Paris’s crème de la crème

Paris’s world-renowned luxury industry is a magnet for international talent. Whether you’re just starting out or are an established professional, there are plenty of opportunities to connect and share knowledge and experience with fellow industry bods. Business schools such as ESSEC enable students to build their networks as they study. The connections they make are invaluable for support whilst at the business school – and may come in handy later down the line.

“Most of my peers are already established in their respective fields, and some already have their own luxury business. My encounters at ESSEC have been eye-opening and career-defining,” concludes Alex Qian.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ESSEC Business School.


‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”