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Luxury MBA Training Fashionable As Industry Growth Spurs Jobs

Luxury management grows on MBA students as global brands recruit in push for digital growth.

Wed Jul 1 2015

Luxury training is becoming an ever more fashionable accessory for the world’s top MBA students.

New program launches at business schools and private sector collaborations are increasingly on trend, as managers take advantage of a period of growth in the global luxury industry, spurred by digital, to land jobs.

This year a niche MBA will launch at IFA Paris, a French fashion and luxury management school, focused on the perfume and cosmetic markets.

The global perfumery market is valued at $28 billion and is expected to reach $45.6 billion by 2018. The global cosmetic market is forecast to grow by 40% by 2030, potentially creating 50,000 new jobs in France alone, according to the Cosmetic Valley cluster, a network of French cosmetic companies.

But Patrick Kuzmin-Karavaïeff, owner of IFA Paris, said that companies in the cosmetic industry lack leaders capable of exerting a global view of their business.

Taught in English, the IFA Paris MBA will seek to equip students with the technical, managerial and entrepreneurial tools needed to succeed in the sector.

“The worlds of fashion and beauty have always been intimately linked,” said Jean-Baptiste Andreani, director of graduate programs at IFA Paris. “We want to recruit potential managers as well as aesthetes who are passionate about the beauty industry,” he said.

Most of the luxury MBA programs are clustered in traditional fashion centres such as Paris, Milan, London and New York — where the best designers and luxury brands are headquartered.

MBA students from London Business School, which runs an elective track in luxury management, last month teamed up with the British Fashion Council to develop business strategies for independent UK brands.

The MBAs worked with the designers to understand aspects such as supply chain management, distribution channels, financing and marketing.

Jeff Skinner, executive director at the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at LBS, said the partnership gave students valuable experience in the luxury sector. “In return, designers gain business-critical insight from commercially-minded MBAs. This is an invaluable experience for both parties,” he said.

Luxury brands are desperate for talent to fill newly created roles, according to Erica Corbellini, director of the Master in Fashion, Experience and Design Management at Italy’s SDA Bocconi School of Management.

The sector’s digital pivot is driving much of this demand. “It is indeed very difficult to find people able to combine the tech expertise with the business knowledge and the eye for visual and detail that in luxury is fundamental,” Erica said.

“There will be job opportunities in terms of e-commerce, e-services, and logistics and the supply chain,” Simon Nyeck, academic director of the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School, said.

There are also opportunities in marketing, according to Professor Thomaï Serdari, strategist in luxury marketing and branding at NYU Stern School of Business.

“The field of luxury marketing, as an academic and business discipline, is growing as the luxury market grows,” she said.

But while Burberry, Gucci and Chanel have been digital luxury leaders, other brands are divided over adopting the online approach.

Ivan Coste-Manière, professor of marketing at SKEMA Business School, said: “Some brands are still reluctant to fully adopt the web, while some others, and especially the newest and youngest ones, have been using the web with tremendous success in terms of leverage for both the brand image and cash flow.”

Recruiting digitally savvy managers is becoming more important as consumers use the web to conduct research.

“The internet is today an unavoidable part of decision making for luxury clients,” said Maria Eugenia Giron, executive director of the Premium and Prestige Business Observatory at IE Business School.

The large luxury brands are still the recruitment powerhouses. But industry experts point to smaller players as new sources of career growth.

Gachoucha Kretz, professor of marketing at HEC Paris and a former executive at LVMH, said: “Start-ups in fashion and luxury are just at their infancy and will drive lots of positive outcomes — like creating very exciting jobs.”

Luxury start-ups have been making waves, including London based Farfetch, already valued at £1 billion, and Vente Privée, the Parisian online sales group, which has reportedly been valued at $3 billion.

“These companies are definitely taking notice and we’re starting to see more sophistication with technology in terms of linking the store experience [online],” said Chris Higgins, assistant director at the Career Development Centre of INSEAD, the business school.

Angelo Manaresi, director of the MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods at Bologna Business School, said that experience working in international teams and language skills are desirable among luxury recruiters.

He added: “A good balance between technical competence in marketing and finance, and a passion for the industry, is another strong asset.”