It was while she was working at a boutique PR firm in New York City that Tiffanie began contemplating a career change. She spoke to her then-mentor and told her that she had long been keen to work with luxury brands. Her mentor advised her that if she really wanted to make it in the luxury industry, she should do ESSEC’s MBA programme in Luxury Brand Management.
“She raved about the type of people who come out of the programme and the network it would give me,” Tiffanie tells The Local.
The advice turned out to be life-changing. The MBA, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, was the first luxury-specific programme launched on the market. It covers multiple sectors in luxury including fashion and accessories, fragrance and cosmetics, jewellery, wines and spirits, and luxury retail. Students are based in Paris – widely known as the capital of luxury and home to myriad luxury brands – with the chance to travel to Hong Kong, New York, and Italy as part of the programme.
“Out of all the other schools I was looking at, I saw that ESSEC would be able to provide an immersive, international experience. During the programme, we visited three countries and met with executives in the luxury industry,” says Tiffanie. “Not only were we getting first-hand experience, but we also got an idea of who the luxury consumer is around the world. There weren’t a lot of MBA programmes that offered that.”
Photo: Tiffanie Davis
The programme – which includes modules on strategic management of luxury brands and design management, as well as traditional MBA subjects like financial accounting – is bolstered by the school’s strong ties with the luxury industry. Students are introduced to senior luxury professionals, both on- and off-site, throughout the course of the year. This includes regular talks by industry execs and a mentorship programme that pairs students with luxury professionals.
“Every 'Executive Speaker' gave us the opportunity to gain knowledge and contacts,” says Tiffanie. “By the end of the year, we had a handful of people who we could reach out to for advice or even career opportunities. I was also paired with a mentor who worked at Estée Lauder which really helped to open those doors.”
Immersed in luxury
Living in Paris, students are immersed in the world of luxury and have the unique opportunity to visit nearby ateliers and factories. They can also choose to do a boutique internship during which they work on the shop floor to gain broader understanding of how the entire brand operates.
“We went to the Christian Louboutin factory, Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels…the list goes on,” says Tiffanie. “Everything was right at our fingertips. I'm not sure I would have had these opportunities if you’re not in the heart of a city that is really known for all things luxury. Even when you’re not in class, you can still learn from the city’s rich culture and heritage.”
She adds that these visits helped her to appreciate the time and skill that goes into manufacturing each item. It’s one of the many learnings she acquired during her MBA that she applies to her everyday work at Estée Lauder.
But has the career transition lived up to her expectations? Without a doubt, she says.
“My role specifically is very fun. It's all about managing creative and digital content projects which is something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was offered the role, I couldn’t believe it. I was prepared to have to pick up and move back to the States. My heart was really set on Paris and I was so excited when I got the position. Living and working in Paris has been absolutely amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
While Tiffanie hopes to stay in Paris, she knows that her MBA opens up a whole world of opportunities. Her classmates are working all over the world, from Korea to New York City, while all graduates are life-long members of ESSEC’s active global alumni network.
“We’re all spread out which is really cool because we have a network of people around the world who are working in the industry. Once you attend ESSEC, you’re always part of the ESSEC community; you never leave it, the door is always open.”
Does Tiffanie’s story have you considering a career change? ESSEC’s next luxury brand management program starts September 2020; more information on the course schedule, campus in Paris and a list of luxury brand contributors can be found here.
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ESSEC.