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.