Tuesday, 6 December 2016

EMiLUX, for a new generation of International Managers in the Luxury Sector

EMiLUX - Executive Master in Luxury Management a new generation of International Managers in the Luxury Sector

Interview with Gabriella Lojacono, Co-Director, SDA Bocconi Professor of Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management and Ashok Som, Co-Director, ESSEC Professor, Management Department.

Sophisticated and practical, a connoisseur and a manager. These are the typical qualifications of emerging leaders in the luxury goods business. But it is not easy to find someone like this to lead companies in a constantly expanding and evolving market. EMiLUX, Executive Master in Luxury Management – the training program born out of a partnership between SDA Bocconi and ESSEC Business School – aims exactly at training a new generation of managers for the luxury business, who can grasp its value and potential. We talked about it with Gabriella Lojacono and Ashok Som, co-directors of EMiLUX.

An executive master dedicated specifically to the luxury business: why this choice?
We often think that luxury business is guided purely by taste, by a natural instinct, or that it is just based on heritage. On the contrary, luxury business is like all growing sectors and is becoming more and more managerial and requires specific skills, and companies often try to acquire them by recruiting managers from other sectors such as consumer goods. It is a useful contribution, but it sometimes neglects the peculiarities of this market, which requires specific and refined tools. It also requires forward vertical integration, which means having better control over retail.

Read Ashok Som answer

EMiLUX was born out of a partnership between SDA Bocconi and the French Business School ESSEC: what is the main virtue of this synergy?
They are certainly the two schools in Europe that have dedicated the most time and effort to the luxury goods market. In addition, they both have strong roots in the business community and can boast a network of high-level companies and professionals. After all, this partnership mirrors a common reality in the businesses of this sector, where many companies have a French-Italian soul. For example, think about Kering within Gucci. Let’s be honest, Italy and France can teach the world a thing or two in this field.

Read Ashok Som answer

It is definitely an internationally-minded program, even just by looking at the locations where it takes place – Paris, Dubai, Singapore and Mumbai, as well as Milan. What are the advantages of this perspective and of the multiple locations? And what are the challenges tied to the multicultural composition of the classroom?
There are two points to consider which tied to each other. The first is that we are talking about a market that has strong cultural ties: goods are purchased because of their high symbolic value and their specific provenance – we often talk about “country of origin.” This program allows us to see the variety of these markets and their geographical peculiarities first hand, and to develop the cross-cultural perspective that is necessary to face the global scenario in which luxury goods move. Companies have understood that they can not grow only in their historical markets anymore – be they national or regional – but they have to measure up to the world and thus to different cultures. The second point to consider is a corollary to the first. You cannot think that the world “is flat,” that the world is the same wherever you go, and that you can use a single business logic, a single marketing or distribution policy that can be valid for every country. This is a big strategic mistake and companies have finally come to this realization. This is why when approaching people from different areas we try first to identify their soft skills, the typical characteristics of their original culture. That is our starting point to develop business skills.

Read Ashok Som answer

What is the profile of an ideal participant?
EMiLUX is aimed at those who have a managerial background, possibly developed in other industries and functional areas, and who are not interested in a general business-training program but are looking for specific skills for this industry. The ideal candidate is also someone who is willing to invest more time than is usually expected in other executive programs, to build wide and solid foundations for his or her own specialization. There are also those who already work in this industry but have a specialized role – I am thinking of a creative director, a production director or a sales director – and need a 360˚ view over the whole business. Finally, we are also thinking of financial institutions, venture capitalists and anyone who invests in the luxury business, who need a deeper knowledge of this industry to better steer their involvement.

Read Ashok Som answer

And what are the main characteristics of the program’s academic plan?
We have structured the program in seven residential modules, distributed among the different locations, each one of them dedicated to a “paradox” of the luxury business. Between one residential module and the next there will be distance learning modules that will introduce simulations or exercises that will consolidate what was learned in the previous module and prepare for the topics in the upcoming module.

Read Ashok Som answer

Can you please explain a little more about what “7 modules for 7 paradoxes” means?
They are the soul of the program and they offer solutions to the possible antinomies in the luxury market. The first module, in Paris, is dedicated to the “timelessness of luxury”: we usually deal with timeless, iconic products, but we have to find new ways of involving the consumer. In the second module, in Milan, we will deal with the creation of value and with how it is possible to guarantee the growth of sales volume while keeping a high margin. In Dubai, in our third module, we will talk about the “go to market,” meaning the exclusivity of luxury products parallel to their availability on the market. Back to Milan for the fourth module, we will talk about the complexity of the global market (new competitors from new areas) and about the necessary simplification of processes (productive, logistic, communicative). In the fifth module, in Paris again, we will talk about retail, discussing the dual experience of physical and virtual shops, the latter being a distribution channel that not even the luxury business can do without. In Singapore for the sixth module, we will see how to protect and give value to heritage, thinking about launching new products and exploring new markets at the same time. Finally in our seventh module in Mumbai – which is also where we will have our graduation – we will talk about the coexistence of the local values – local to the country of origin that is exactly the ace in the hole of a luxury product – and the necessary global perspective.

Read Ashok Som answer

At the end of this Master’s program, what will the participants bring back with them when they return to their jobs, or when they look for new career opportunities?
Certainly new methods and new knowledge of the hot topics in the industry and most of all the luxury culture. We want to fill the gap between the creative role on one hand and the manager on the other, something that in the past has penalized many companies in the industry. We want to create a new generation of managers who are on the cutting edge in using specific tools, but who are also highly aware of and sensitive to the aesthetics and culture of luxury.

Read Ashok Som answer

SDA Bocconi School of Management