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World’s Largest Luxury Company Embarks on Recruiting Drive at HEC Paris

It is a short hop, skip and jump from LVMH on Avenue Hoche, central Paris, to the HEC campus at Jouy-en-Josas. So it seemed logical that the conglomerate, home to 70 high-quality luxury brands, start a nine-stop national recruiting campaign with an afternoon exchange involving 250 of the business school’s students.

Thursday October 27 thus saw lively exchanges over career opportunities between students and recruiters from the group’s Maisons - brands such as Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Givenchy and Moët & Chandon. In parallel, three workshops, centered on Dior’s marketing, Vuitton’s finance and the retail work of LVMH Fragrance Brands, gave a rare insight into the group’s day-to-day business. The day climaxed with a closing masterclass by the company’s Chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony on creating value in the luxury sector.

“There are five essential elements in value,” explained the company executive, a 1984 HEC graduate himself: “quality, functionality, design, the strength of the brand and the client’s experience.” Guiony pursued: “The creation of value is thus at the heart of the development model used by LVMH.”

Shared passion

The four-hour event marked just over a year since HEC Paris and LVMH created the “General Management and Retail Excellence” Chair. Since the September 2015 accord between the two institutions, HEC Paris staff have been guiding students in the management of such top-end luxury Maisons. Professor Anne Michaut holds the Chair at HEC Paris and helped organize the exchange. “Both HEC and LVMH are very focused on excellence,” she explained. “LVMH needs international talents inside its business. Here, we offer a pool of the sharpest cosmopolitan minds.”

LVMH recruiter Sarah D’Alfonso believes it is a shared passion for the luxury sector which drives the collaboration with HEC Paris. “We are looking for creative and professional excellence to share with a clientele from all parts of the world. You only have to look at the candidates here to see that we share a common global vision.”

“I take back a lot of energy, especially in the Question & Answer sessions,” commented Alexandra Sighele, brand manager for Dior Perfume Skin Care. The 2008 HEC graduate insisted on how the business school has become a global hub in the past eight years. “There are so many more students from Asia and elsewhere, they outnumbered their French counterparts today,” she insisted. “It’s just the profile for us. They showed a sharp strategic analysis and could decode the communications campaign we’ve elaborated for Dior Prestige.”

Sustainability and environmental issues

The European luxury goods conglomerate celebrated its 29th birthday in 2016. With over 3,700 shops in 70 countries, LVMH continues to dominate its sector with products as diverse as Hennessy cognac, the French daily Les Echos and Bulgari jewelry.

At Thursday’s event, HEC students did bring up concerns over sustainability and environment. Molly Minton is an American student in the MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation program: “I believe sustainability is the future in the luxury business,” she insisted, “LVMH are doing unique things in this sector, with overall compliance, ensuring (their) factories are working ethically and abiding by international human rights concerns.”

A belief Prof. Michaut shared: “This is a key factor because business is affected by reputation, they can’t do without a good one.” The specialist in luxury goods linked the need for ethical rigor with a more general demand for the highest standards which, she said, is at the heart of the HEC-LVMH partnership: “Luxury clients think it is the business of perfection, it should be perfection in everything, including sustainability.”

Looking to the Far East

Meanwhile, much of the immediate focus for the European multinational conglomerate remains the Far East. As Sighele pointed out during her exchange with HEC students, its skin whitening cream Dior Snow, for example, is one of several products focusing exclusively on the Asian market. “Over 30 percent of my turnover is in China, our top destiny,” she said. “Our typical Prestige client is Chinese, urban, 37 years old, ultra-connected, with an average of 1,400 euros a year to spend on Dior products.”

Overall, the group, with its 2,400 shops worldwide, enjoyed sustained growth last year as profits leapt by 16 percent to 6.6 billion euros. Progress which made their visit to the campus all the more enticing for students. The recruitment drive was followed by “Inside LVMH”, a one-day course on November 22 where over 200 students were picked from 20 of Europe’s top institutions (including HEC Paris, Saint Martins, Luigi Bocconi and Polytechnique).

This rewarded the winners of a competition on the challenges of innovation in the luxury sector. They were invited to discover the world’s number one luxury company, 16 of its Maisons and the Louis Vuitton Foundation. “Innovation is all about having a revolutionary ambition and sticking to it,” said Bernard Arnault, quoted in Le Figaro, in concluding the day’s induction. The LVMH CEO told the future leaders in the luxury sector that the key factors to success were a “start-up attitude”, creativity and determination.