“I wanted to shift my career into more senior role within Luxury and I thought that with an amazing networking opportunities that ESSEC provides and with more theoretical knowledge thanks to the lectures I would have more opportunities to do so.” Nicola
from Czech Republic
Could you introduce your background?
This year I am the youngest member of our class. I am a young professional at the early stage of my career even though I already have a 6-year working experience. I have studied International and Diplomatic studies at the University of Economics in Prague and I have also spent a semester abroad at Science Po, Paris as part of my ERASMUS programme.
I have started my career very early, at the age of 19, right after I joined University od Economics in Prague. I always loved to connect what I studied in school theoretically with practical knowledge. That´s why I have joined Mrs. Eliška Hašková Coolidge, a former White House Official (Coolidge Consulting Services) and worked as her Personal Assistant and Office Manager. The company was dedicated to promoting ethics and etiquette and conducting prestigious courses on The Art and Management of Social Skills, Diplomatic and Business Protocol. I have been responsible for organizing and supervising all the administrative activities, acquiring clients, database systems, communication and PR and digital strategy. We conducted many courses for Business and Private sector as well as Government, EU and more recently also Children and Teenagers. Many times we´ve also organized special courses for Luxury brands on Social Manners and Customer Service.
During my 5-years career with Mrs. Coolidge I have delved much deeper into the luxury sector and I found this industry fascinating. That is also why, right after my graduation, I have applied to ESSEC Luxury programme. Nontheless, I needed to gain more experience within Luxury and in a bigger team to profit the most from the programme. For this particular reason, I have spent a wonderful year (from 2015 to 2016) in Louis Vuitton, Prague as a Client Advisor specialized in Leather Goods, specifically High-end leather and Exotics. This experienced was key for me in order to confirm my interest in Luxury and to understand better the Luxury industry from the very bottom line, where most of the business is actually done.
Why did you decide to join an MBA, and why ESSEC?
I have discovered this programme thanks to my father when I was 16 years old. He has suggested to keep this programme in mind for the future after I graduate from the University. At this age I was convinced I´d be a Diplomat. But for various reasons, after graduation from University of Economics in Prague I decided to change my career track and switch into Luxury. The programme came to my mind instantly and after some additional research I have decided to join ESSEC. I was impressed by the history of the programme and the degree of professional connections that ESSEC has. It is one of the leading business schools in France and for me as an European it was very sound.
I wanted to shift my career into more senior role within Luxury and I thought that with an amazing networking opportunities that ESSEC provides and with more theoretical knowledge thanks to the lectures I would have more opportunities to do so.
I also realized I wanted to do this programme when I am still young in order not to get out of the studying rhythm but at the same time still have working experience to back up my studies. The school initially told me to apply at the age of 28 or 29 but I was really happy that they have finally accepted me at the age of 25 under the condition of the Retail experience.
What do you hope to achieve throughout the year and what are your professional goals after the MBA?
Throughout the year, I hope to gain an even deeper insight into the Luxury Sector. I am very grateful that the school offers more tracks (Fashion & Accessories, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Wines & Spirits and Jewellery & Watches). It is a great opportunity to think out of the box of the industry we are most specialized in and to discover something different or to get inspired by other industries.
I also hope to become part of the large ESSEC MBA in Luxury Alumni and Friends network. Such exposure is vital for better understanding of the industry in practice, passing the knowledge, critical discussion and of course also helpful for your prospective job search.
After graduation, I would love to accelerate my career in Managerial Retail positions or in Communications, Business Development or Training as I really love to transmit the knowledge of the products to clients but also friends and I like to be in the field and in contact with real customers.
What’s your best experience in this program by far? And what would you like to change in the future?
Definitely Factory visits and CEO Conferences. I must admit that the passion about Luxury brands comes from the quality and precision of the products and it is extremely motivating for us – future managers. It makes us realize how much work and planning stands behind one product and why Luxury products are so rare. It also helps us understand the difficulties with actual realization of a product and so many other aspects connected to it.
During the year, I also very much enjoyed real case studies where we had to come up with an idea and think about it in such a detail that it makes the idea absolutely consistent with the Brand. It challenges you and pushes your boundaries.
For people who are interested in Careers abroad, the Field Projects are crucial and very useful part of the programme where we get to know local specifics both in terms of the Business and in terms of Recruitment. It is also an amazing opportunity to put what we have studied in school into practical questions during the Conferences organized as part of the Field Trip.
In the future, it would be great if the school provided more courses on self-development and managerial skills at the very beginning of the school year. I think a lot of students who do not come from the Industry would also appreciate Pre-courses on History of Luxury Brands, Icons of Luxury Brands etc.
It might be also interesting to incorporate an internship in more Managerial position as a build-up on the Boutique Internship Week. It is vital to learn how to sell but I think it would be great to also see how to manage the floor, motivate your employees and develop a store strategy.
Additionally, I think there is never enough Factory visits – they are truly inspiring and the best source of first-hand information about the industry.
What advice would you give to someone who is applying to the program?
Know what you want to pursue in the future – even though it might change during the programme and it is perfectly fine as people evolve. Know your passion, what you want to do, why you are applying and what is your value added to Luxury.
Be passionate about Luxury, otherwise it would be a very difficult year for you. The knowledge is not key – you can easily keep up with it, but make sure you love this sector wholeheartedly.
Be prepared to think out of the box. Both in terms of work but also in terms of culture. The class is very diverse and this is the biggest value added of the programme. Be ready for culture-clashes. They will appear. Be opened to new experiences and new ideas and you will always overcome the problems.
Be self-confident yet humble. I was very scared before I came to this programme that as the youngest classmate I will lack knowledge or experience. It is not true. Everyone has his own history and path and everyone can add something valuable to the table. Do not judge anyone, you never know what they have gone through.
Have a positive attitude. Attitude is what makes the difference and what can make your year either amazing or disastrous. Help others, be a team player but don´t forget to hustle and be challenging - you want to be a future manager. Luxury is a very hard-working industry.
Go for it! Be able to make decisions and take risks but most of all, have fun and love what you are doing!