by Kahina Laouissat, Executive MBA 2022
After two years of the Global Business Assignment (GBA) being delivered online due to the pandemic, we were finally able to travel again, and they were held in person!
In June, Professors Dafna Goor and Nader Tavassoli took around 80 students from all over the world and across different class streams to Paris. We immersed ourselves in the city of luxury to understand more about the sector and “Savoir Faire”.
Day 1: Group Project and Meeting with the brand
The magic began on Day 1 when we met our brand representatives. Each student was allocated to a group and each group to a brand.
On Monday, representatives from luxury brands like Cartier, Mont Blanc, Alaia and Vacheron Constantin shared the challenges they wanted us to work on for the week. It was very exciting to work on real-life cases and it was a great opportunity to apply concepts learned at London Business School. I have great memories of the lobby full of students working on their projects.
Once we received our task, we went to the brand boutique to meet Sales Associates and get to know more about the brand and its products. My group and I went to the Mont Blanc boutique and interviewed them to get a sense of the customer experience and gather some ideas for our presentation.
Day 2: Love brings Love and Champagne
The second day was also very engaging and full of luxury experiences. In the morning, we went to the Palais Galleria to discover a one-of-a-kind exhibition honouring the late Alber Elbaz, with 46 designers recreating runway looks inspired by him.
After this unforgettable experience, it was time for our boutique visit. We travelled around Paris for a unique tour – from the very exclusive Hermes flagship on Saint-Honoré, to the historical Cartier boutique on Champs Elysees. I was part of the group that visited the Cartier boutique, where we talked with the manager, Victoria, about the daily challenges faced by the Sales Associates. From what was shared, we could tell that the customer experience was at the heart of the brands. My favourite part of the visit was when we discovered the first floor which was home to the most exclusive Cartier pieces. Don’t go there with your credit card, you might be tempted! ?.
After this visit, we had some free time to visit the beautiful capital before moving to the British Council where local alumni, champagne and exciting discussions about brand DNA were waiting for us.
Day 3: Industry Experts and Cartier Roundtable: A little bit of history
Already the middle of the week!
To start the day, we attended a speaker session with two industry experts.
Benedicte Epinay, CEO of Colbert Group, explained how France became the world’s first luxury destination and how Comité Colbert is trying to keep the French craftsmanship heritage alive.
Thomas Mesmin from MAD (a luxury consulting company), shared an exclusive presentation about the new luxury sector strategy and how they changed their targets and approach to attract customers. For me, this was the most insightful presentation. It was clear that the pandemic changed the game and luxury companies had to double their efforts to adapt to new client behaviours.
After a few hours of group work, we were back at the Cartier offices. During this roundtable, we got to know more about Cartier’s creations and their inspiration. We heard about how iconic collections like ‘Love’ and ‘Clash’ are designed and most importantly how the brand keeps digging into the founder’s story to stay loyal to its DNA.
We ended with Q&A, then moved on to networking with cocktails in hand. Cheers everyone!
Day 4: London Business School takes over Versailles
The morning was dedicated to workshops. We experienced the artisan life for a few hours, gaining an understanding of the time commitment required for a brand to be luxurious. Split into groups, we discovered four different areas of craftsmanship. My group worked on the leather goods section, creating two mini wallets in the Hermes way. The workshop showcased the craftmanship behind every product, the real artists who are truly passionate and create the magic.
We couldn’t leave Paris without seeing the Palace of Versailles, one of the most spectacular buildings in the world, where Queen Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI lived an incredible life and hosted opulent banquets. A guide gave us exclusive access to rooms usually closed to the public and walked us through the beautiful gardens.
Day 5: Presentation Day and Closing Session
On Friday, I was excited to present our proposal to key stakeholders from the Richemont Group. Everyone worked hard on their tasks and it was very enriching to listen to others’ presentations. From traditional retail to the brand new metaverse world, leaders of tomorrow discussed their vision and strategy.
I am grateful to the Richemont Group for taking the time to meet us and for opening the doors of the luxury industry. I hope our proposals inspired them too.
During the closing session with the professors, they reminded us of an important lesson: we live in a world where we have to be bold, don’t hesitate to think out of the box. These words still inspire me.
Overall, I found this GBA very insightful for someone who wants to explore a career in the luxury industry or for someone who is simply curious about it. It was extremely well structured with a good balance between guest speakers, company visits and free time to discover the city and work on the project.
Here’s what my peers had to say:
“The best thing was that each member in the group had different boutique visits so when we had to write the reflection, each member shared his/her experience which educated the whole team” Suhail, Executive MBA Dubai 2022
“The Paris GBA gave me a deep insight into the luxury world and the opportunity to apply what I learned in class to a real-world business problem to add value to a client’s business” Rawan, Executive MBA Dubai 2022
“The most remarkable aspect of the Paris GBA program was that it allowed for a deeply immersive experience, where we could delve into, and discuss, directly with the key executives of some of the most iconic global brands, the underlying thought process behind the business strategies adopted by them” Chinmaye, Executive MBA Dubai 2022
London Business School provides many opportunities to apply your classroom learning to real-world challenges in order to affect positive social and economic changes in local communities worldwide. Find out more about Experiential Learning here.