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Luxury Fashion and Retail at Center of MBA Career Forum

MBA career forum for retail and luxury fashion

Ahead of Paris Fashion Week, 200 MBA students and alumni descended on the French capital at the end of last month to take part in a career forum centered on the retail and luxury fashion sector.

Drawing participants from seven leading business schools in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy and the UK, the Retail & Luxury MBA Career Forum illustrates the growing interest among students in the sector and the employment opportunities therein.

MBA career opportunities highlighted by industry’s new direction

Many emerging MBA career opportunities in the industry stem from its desire to bring in professionals who can improve a business’ performance in the realms of e-commerce and digital marketing, according to a feature for Kering’s K magazine. Kering, the owner of high-powered luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen was one of the companies in attendance at the forum and helped supply its keynote speaker, Emmanuel GintzburgerYves Saint Laurent’s worldwide retail and wholesale director.

From the student perspective, careers in the retail and luxury fashion sector are said to appeal for their focus on consumer needs, even if senior positions with companies can sometimes be in short supply. Facilitating networking and giving students the chance to learn about various company cultures in the sector was therefore the overriding aim of the Paris forum, hosted by local institution HEC Paris.

Where every brand is different: Cultural fit in luxury fashion and retail

One current full-time MBA student in attendance was Rotterdam School of Management’s Lorilea Zabadal, who highlighted what she learned from a talk given by Diesel’s parent company, OTB:

“OTB’s presentation was like having all the concepts of sustainability, motivational theory, and corporate social responsibility come to life.”

Indeed, just as an institution’s culture should inform one’s decision in picking a business school at which to study, at the forum Yves Saint Laurent’s Gintzburger underlined the importance of considering a company’s values for those seeking to work in the retail and luxury fashion sector:

“I believe a person can have a good experience in a luxury brand when there’s a true fit. Everyone is not adaptable to every brand. Each brand is very different...You have to find the right match.”

As well as understanding if the culture is right, school representatives at the event were in agreement that retail and luxury firms place a premium on sector experience and in an intimate understanding of the firm-in-question’s products – one that can often best be gained by working on the shop floor.

Another key facet of the forum, as indeed would be the case with any MBA career forum held by multiple institutions, was therefore to provide MBAs from different schools a chance to exchange notes and firsthand experiences on their overlapping interests.

Although Milan Fashion Week preceded the Paris edition, Italy’s second most populous city is to be the subsequent location for the Retail & Luxury MBA Career Forum.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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