Alumni Spotlight: Douglas Mandel, MBA Luxury Brand Management, Class of 2010

After managing his own Men’s Design company in Montreal, Canada, for about 8 years, Mr. Douglas Mandel sought to grow his career in the Luxury Industry, and joined ESSEC to pursue an MBA focusing on Luxury Brand Management. Upon completion of the MBA, Mr. Mandel joined Christian Dior Couture as Concessions Manager, Selfridges, and is currently the Vice President Canada and Las Vegas USA at Christian Dior Couture. We spoke with him to find out about how his experience at ESSEC helped accelerate his career in Luxury. 

Why did you choose ESSEC?
I chose ESSEC primarily because the school offered the best MBA focusing on Luxury Brand Management which was available on the market. I had been working in the Fashion Industry for my entire career up till then; I was thus not so inclined to pursue a generalist MBA or EMBA program, and was specifically looking for an MBA which offered a specialization in Luxury Brand Management.

Furthermore, the intensive 12-month format of the MBA, the fact that the program was launched in such close partnership with LVMH and L’Oréal Luxe, 2 key leaders of the Luxury Industry who identified a need for such a program in the market, as well as the context and industry connections which we were able to build, convinced me that the program was what I was looking for.

What did you gain from your experience in the program? 
The MBA was a great personal achievement for me and truly quantified the knowledge which I believed I had and put it on paper. More importantly, the MBA enabled me to get my job at Dior.

What was your most memorable experience in the program?/What defined your experience at ESSEC for you?
As someone coming from Canada/North America, the opportunity to be able to live in Paris to do an MBA was truly invaluable. Being with people coming from all over the world, being exposed to different perspectives, getting challenged, working in various teams for projects was certainly a rigorous and wonderful experience. 

The numerous opportunities we had to meet with different companies from the Luxury Industry, getting exposure to and having the chance to exchange directly with top executives from the industry is for me a major asset of the program.

How did the MBA help you to fast-track your career in luxury?
Prior to the MBA, I was deciding on my next career steps, and sent my CV to many leading brands in the Luxury industry. At that point in time, I did not hear back from any of them. Being offered a position at Dior even before I was finished with the program reinforced my belief that the program opened the doors to the Luxury industry for me. From working at Dior in London, then being promoted to Russia and now having the opportunity to look after Canada and Las Vegas for the brand, I have undoubtedly managed to accelerate my career in the industry thanks to the strong network and recognition of the program in the industry. 

What advice would you have for people considering an MBA focusing on Luxury Brand Management?
Keep in mind that if you are doing the MBA, it would primarily be because you are looking to shift into the Luxury industry or grow your career in the Luxury industry. Maintain an open mind during the 1st half of the year and do not go into the program pre-determining what kind of job you are going to get later. In January, focus on heavily networking and taking advantage of all the opportunities the school provides to interact with professionals from the industry, in order to make the most out of the school’s strong network to fast-track your Luxury career. 

Participant Spotlight: Emily Zheng, Finance major

Emily Zheng, a current participant from the Finance Major of the Global MBA, worked at the Beijing Office of Société Générale prior to pursuing the MBA at ESSEC. She tells us more about why she decided to join the program and how her experience has been. 

Why did you choose ESSEC?

I have always been working in European companies and understand that ESSEC is well-recognized among the French community and in the European market. ESSEC is also known for the diversity of its participants and faculty body, which was an important factor for me to choose ESSEC as I would like to work in an international environment and have global mobility.

Why did you choose the ​Finance major?

I have worked in the Financial industry for eight years and planned to stay in the industry after graduation. Without an academic background in Finance, I felt that choosing the Finance major would help deepen my understanding of the industry and allow me to understand the European market better.

What was your favorite aspect of the program?

My favorite aspect of the program, as aforementioned, is its diversity. In contrast to other generalist MBA programs, ESSEC offers various majors, and I, therefore, had the opportunities to meet classmates with very different backgrounds, interests, and career goals. We also had lots of opportunities to immerse ourselves in a multicultural environment through group work and school projects.

Furthermore, we met with many companies in the banking industry, in particular during the field trip to New York City. The highlight for me was that we visited the headquarters of Bloomberg.

What advice would you have for future participants to make the most out of their experience in the MBA?

Take the opportunity to build strong ties with your classmates who will be with you throughout the program, and always give your best during group work and any projects. This is the best chance for you to experience how it is like working in an international environment.

Manage your time wisely - you might be overwhelmed with the group work at the beginning of the program, but make sure to also allocate time to network and prepare for your job search, because the year flies by really quickly.

Interested in finding out more about the Finance major of the Global MBA? Get in touch with our ambassador, Gianluca Errico.

Alumni Spotlight: Sylvia Cai, MBA, Luxury Brand Management, Class of 2015

We recently spoke with Sylvia Cai, an MBA alumna who graduated from ESSEC in 2015, on how a focus on Luxury Brand Management in the MBA has helped her in growing her career in the industry.

What were you doing before the MBA and what have you been doing since the MBA?
Before the MBA, I worked as a National Distribution Manager at one of the leading Chinese fashion brands. After I graduated from the MBA in 2015, I joined Saint Laurent in Shanghai as an Operations Manager, and am currently a Store Director leading a team and managing store operations.

Why did you choose ESSEC? 
Before applying for an MBA, I did some research on MBA programs focusing on Luxury and found that ESSEC’s MBA, which offered a focus on Luxury Brand Management, stood out as one of the leading programs for professionals who want to devote themselves to the industry. Being able to study in Paris, one of the fashion capitals of the world, further cemented my decision to pursue the MBA with ESSEC. 
The cumulation of these 2 factors brought me to the conclusion that ESSEC would be the best choice for me to effectively grow my career in the Luxury industry. 

How did the MBA help you to fast-track your career in luxury?
The plethora of networking opportunities we were presented with was pivotal in helping me fast-track my career in Luxury. Through this valuable network, I managed to find my boutique internship as well as my full-time position after the program.
Prior to the program, I did not have any retail-related experience and have since managed to progress in my career to become a Director with Saint Laurent. For me, being able to be recognized and known by people in the Luxury industry was very important, as it is what helped me get to where I am today. 

What was your most memorable experience in the program?
My most memorable experiences in the program were the field trips to Italy, Dubai, and Hong Kong, which gave us the chance to interact directly with top management from leading luxury companies in the various markets. There was also a good diversity of markets for the different field trips, with Italy addressing the traditional Luxury market, and Dubai and Hong Kong addressing the more emerging markets. Through the field trips, we were able to observe and understand how things work in different markets, and this knowledge and experience has been invaluable to my career, especially when it comes to interacting with international clients. 

Furthermore, the opportunity to live in Paris is a very valuable life experience that one can have, and I feel that this is one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

What advice would you have for professionals looking to pursue the Global MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC?
I strongly recommend the program for professionals who really have a passion for the industry, and have a good vision of what they would like to achieve in their career in Luxury.

The Luxury Industry is very dynamic, creative, and attractive, and there are new things happening every day in the industry. For me, I feel that ESSEC is one of the best resources I ever got as a professional without prior experience in Luxury looking to pivot into the industry. 

The program is highly retail-oriented, providing a good mix between business and fashion elements. The exposure to big names such as Chanel, LVMH, and Kering, going through business courses on finance, operations management, and other business functions enriched my career and have been very helpful.

How do you think participants can make the most out of their MBA experience?
Fully leverage every meeting with alumni and top management which you can have during the MBA. Before each meeting or exchange, prepare yourself well and be serious about what you say in front of everyone as a professional manager. 

Know your strengths well, and have a good understanding of what you want to do in the future. Everyone in the program who knew what they wanted to do in the future managed to achieve what they wanted and even went beyond their expectations. Knowing where you want to go is the key to success.