Exploring Parisian Luxury: Insights from a Sloan Global Experience

We are continuing our series on the Global Experience week with one of our European destinations: Paris. Svetlana Yachevskaya, one of our SLN2023 graduates with significant notoriety and merits, has highly portrayed the luxury and finesse of this cultural-rich learning experience which is once in a lifetime.

Could you please tell us a little bit about your background and why you think you needed a programme like Sloan in your career at this point.

Svetlana: I developed my career in the public sector, achieving notable success. My focus was on public finance and infrastructure investments. Aligning with global sustainable development and social impact standards, I spearheaded and oversaw private infrastructure projects and deployed social, environmental, and governance investment strategies.

Eventually, I decided my ambition to venture into private business, leveraging my comprehensive experience. The Sloan programme is one of the premier business courses, offering an ideal transition platform. My experience at LBS has been a fulfilment of a long-held aspiration. Sloan immerses you in an environment rich with business experts and distinguished professors who impart wisdom and practical insights from the world’s foremost companies and industry leaders. This exposure broadens your understanding of strategic matters and enhances your capabilities in business and management.

What Global Experience location did you choose, and what was the most attractive to the topic?

Svetlana: The choice of the Global Experience in Paris was influenced by the city’s allure and sophistication and its status as a prime example of luxury marketing and branding.

The marketing course proved to be both unexpectedly challenging and stimulating for me, a professional with a public finance and infrastructure projects background. I realised that comprehending consumer purchasing decisions and the intricacies of digital marketing, brand management, market research, advertising, and PR is an invaluable asset in any business field. I was also drawn to the opportunity to see first-hand the strategic plans and philosophy behind luxury branding. The luxury segment, in particular, resembles a high art form.

What kind of activities did you do throughout the week?

Svetlana: During the week-long course, I explored the famous luxury boutiques Cartier and Hermès in Paris. I aimed to grasp their essence, focused on their commitment to top-notch quality, personalised service, and a keen eye for detail. Observing the stores’ ambience, product stories, and aura of exclusivity, I noted how these elements forge emotional ties with their clientele.

I also had enriching talks with industry experts, delving into the nuances of luxury pricing. A key conversation with François-Marie Neycensas, Chief Marketing Officer at Reservoir Watches, deepened my insights into luxury pricing, particularly in watchmaking, where high prices are sustained through exceptional craftsmanship and smart marketing.

Working with the Cartier team, we addressed various business challenges, concentrating on boosting customer involvement, improving communication strategies, formulating financial tactics to attract new customers and talent, and blending arts and culture into business practices.

Were there any special events that you attended? What companies/ stakeholders did you interact with?

Svetlana: I attended several unique events, including the 1997 Fashion Bigbang exhibition and traditional craft workshops in Versailles, enriching my understanding of haute couture and craftsmanship. The exhibition was a key learning experience, showcasing the evolution of high fashion, focusing on the rising influence of street culture, technology, and Asian designers. These aspects highlighted the importance of adaptability and constant innovation in fashion.

The workshops in Versailles, emphasising handcrafted artistry and individuality, contrasted starkly with modern mass production. Engaging in calligraphy there, I was struck by the art’s intricacy and beauty.

My conversations with chef Assaf Granit and innovator Isabelle Viatte offered significant insights. Granit’s career and beliefs underscored how storytelling can be a powerful tool in branding. Meanwhile, Viatte’s unique approach to combining arts and culture with business broadened my understanding of the vast opportunities in the business world. These interactions encouraged me to think outside conventional frameworks and explore new and limitless possibilities in various business sectors.

What were the main takeaways from this 1-week project? What do you think you learnt, and you can still apply nowadays?

Svetlana: The most significant takeaway was the people I met. From Professor Dafna Goor and her team, who organised the course impressively, to the diverse and skilled executives in fashion and luxury I had the fortune to meet and learn from.

The Paris lessons unveiled essential practices in luxury – pricing, marketing, customer engagement, and storytelling’s power in communication. These are universal lessons, valuable beyond the luxury industry and applicable in various business contexts.

What piece of advice would you have for upcoming Sloan candidates who wish to choose Paris as their Global Experience?

Svetlana: Immerse yourself in the city’s deep fashion heritage. Use the lessons from Paris on storytelling, customer engagement, and adaptability in your future professional endeavours.

It’s important to grab every opportunity to engage with industry experts and explore iconic brands. Also, building connections with peers, faculty, and industry leaders is crucial for gaining new insights and opening career opportunities. Keeping an open mind to different cultures and viewpoints broadens your understanding and boosts your capacity for innovation.

For more experience about the learning experience on the Sloan programme, click here.

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