Before joining IUM, I was told that attending the MSc in Luxury Management would be the best choice I could ever make. And it was true. The IUM luxury experience is unique because it goes far beyond theory; it is a full-immersion in the exuberant, but yet strategic world of luxury. Traditional lectures are mixed with corporate projects, guest speaker seminars and networking events in order to make the program complete and help students really get the gist of the industry they are about to enter. However, the highlight of this year’s course for the students from all the three specializations (Goods & Services, Retail, and Hospitality) was, undoubtedly, the five-days field trip to Switzerland and Italy.
After packing our business attires, loads of enthusiasm and curiosity, on Monday, March 3rd, at 6 am, together with our Program Director Annalisa Tarquini, we embarked on what was going to be “the best business trip ever”. And the trip couldn’t have started better! Our first stop was in Trivero, Northern Italy, where we had the honor to be hosted by Mrs. Benedetta Zegna at Casa Zegna and Zegna’s wool mill. It was a tangible proof that, in luxury, passion and quality come first – and what business can better prove it than this family-owned brand arrived at the fourth generation?!
After such a strong start, that raised our expectations high, we were shown there was still plenty of room left for great moments. The trip continued with a 360° view of the luxury business: from production to logistics, from merchandising to design, from retail (flagships and luxury outlet) to marketing and PR, without missing the HR, CRM and General Management dimensions. On top of it, we met three head-hunters from BFK HR Consulting, Switzerland, who gave us some valuable tips for our professional quest. During five intensive days, we saw all the concepts studied in class coming together in a real business context; it was like a recap of all the lectures attended in the last two terms at IUM, loaded with real-life examples.
This time we were the guests; it was like the brands were hosting us “at their place” and, consequently, we were given a more complex insight of each player in particular.
This time we had the chance to get the full sense of some of the world’s most well-known brands and industry leaders and absorb invaluable lessons. Zegna taught us about the quality of fabrics and the secrets of success in the menswear industry; Fendi and Bottega Veneta showed us the importance of details in a flagship store and the impact of the brand ambassadors; Tod’s gave us precious information about merchandising and each of us had the chance to have a quick but challenging interview with the HR team; L’Oréal with its luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent made us understand the underlying aspects of the relation between a fashion brand and its licensed products; Gucci and Brioni with their WW Integrated Logistics Hub reminded us of the importance to keep up with the promise made to the customer; Villa d’Este, Bulgari Hotel Milan and Magna Pars Suites invited us in the world of 5-stars hotels that deliver unforgettable experiences to their customers; Mandarina Duck gave us the opportunity to understand the key functions of the CEO and the designer in a company; Weber Shandwick told us about the importance of PR actions; Just Cavalli made us enjoy a flawless networking cocktail in a luxurious ambiance; and the visits of the Pinacoteca di Brera and The Last Supper perfectly concluded the trip by making the linkage between luxury and art, both results of aesthetic manifestations.
Moreover, this time, we met the guest speakers “at home”. When they come to IUM they bring us just a small part of the brand’s universe and it is still fascinating; imagine being at the headquarters, the core of that universe! It is like entering the family and really feeling on your own skin the values that propelled them to the top.
Not only we were taken through all the business segments, but also through a variety of industries that excel in the luxury sector: fashion, cosmetics, hospitality, leather goods, art – and the “guides” we had, were real professionals, one more inspiring than the other, who have an unquestionable impact on the worldwide luxury industry.
A lot to observe and to absorb, but we were ready for it. And I really believe that we made the best out of each encounter, as we covered a wide range of questions after each presentation, as a result of our genuine curiosity and thirst of knowledge that enriched us and certainly pleased the professionals who appreciated our real interest in their jobs and in the mechanisms that drive the global luxury business.
It might seem hard to believe, but we had a field trip exclusively with highlights; each activity rose up to very high standards and this made it hard for us to determine a potential favorite. It was a perfect blend of presentations, visits, shopping and job interviews that, together with the networking event organized by Annalisa Tarquini at the Just Cavalli lounge, made us feel like we “left as students, and came back as professionals” as my colleague Aris Spiliotopoulos perfectly summarized. The field trip actually provided us with lessons and skills that constitute themselves, as a whole, a luxury package of knowledge.
To sum up, the field trip across Italy and Switzerland was certainly the best way to spend the spring holiday. Not only we were provided with precious insights of the luxury industry and Italian “alto di gamma”, but also we had the chance to reinforce the decisions related to our future careers by listening to successful role models. On top of all delights, we were blessed to share this once in a lifetime experience with sixteen other fellows of eleven different nationalities, thus making the experience complete.
Luxury is about exclusivity, multiculturalism, quality, transformational experience and exceeded expectations – and we had an overdose of them all. We were promised the stars, and we got the sky…
Reported by Elena, current MSc in Luxury Management (Goods and Services specialization) student