Reported by Maria Azar, MBA student

This January, students said goodbye to their textbooks as they embarked on a trip down luxury lane in Milan, Italy. The four-day trip, organized by Annalisa Tarquini, Director of IUM’s Master in Luxury Goods and Services program, took students inside the world of luxury goods and services as they met and toured with a variety of key industry players.

The first stop was the offices of Aqua Di Parma, the prestigious Italian fragrance and skincare brand. Marketing Director, Paola Paganini, spoke about the history of the brand and the detailed craftsmanship required to create the products inside the famous bright yellow boxes. HR Director, Marco Ronchi, also spoke to students about the Company’s continued growth plan and possible career options and opportunities. In the afternoon students got a sneak peek of what happens behind the scenes at one of the world’s leading international fashion houses, Louis Vuitton. During a private store tour, they got the inside story on what it really takes to succeed in the luxury retail industry. Tours began downstairs in bags and accessories and continued upstairs into woman’s haute couture. Giorgio Gabellotti, Store Manager, described the variety of training processes, responsibilities and career options available in retail management.

From haute couture to haute cuisine, groups gathered in the evening to wine and dine at some of Milan’s most famed restaurants including Armani’s Nobu and Dolce and Gabanna’s Gold Restraurant.

The following morning began with a presentation at the Italian headquarters for Richemont, a leading luxury goods holding company known primarily for its ownership of several fine jewelry, watch and pen companies. Caffeinated long nights spent studying at IUM paid-off as students’ successfully answered a variety of questions on the luxury industry posed by HR Director Jean-Pierre Blaison’s during his company presentation.

Some afternoon free time gave students the opportunity to tour the sites, stroll downtown and visit shops. Aching feet and tired wallets didn’t stop this group from enjoying the evening as they joined to mingle amongst Milan’s well-healed at the posh Bulgari hotel. Students sipped swanky “aperitivos” while networking with IUM professors, mentors and other individuals from the luxury goods industry.

Day three began with a presentation on “The Role of Marketing in Fashion and Luxury Space” by the consulting firm Bain & Company. Fulvio Peppucci, a Principal at the firm, described the diverse marketing positions available at several major fashion houses and explained how the growing ecommerce trend is changing the way company’s structure their marketing departments. Next, the group learned the history behind Bottega Veneta, the company responsible for making the bags seen on every girl’s wish list. Silvia Marchi, HR Manager at BV, explained how the company has managed to maintain a strong brand identity even after its acquisition by the French conglomerate group PPR. She attributes this strong identity to the Company’s most valuable resource: its artisans. Bottega Veneta, meaning the “Venetian atelier” recognizes the importance of finding and educating the best artisans to produce high-quality, handmade, leather goods.

In the afternoon, Paolo Mascio, Commercial Director for retailer,, took students inside the world of an online fashion retailer. He focused on the important role that ecommerce is playing in changing the way the luxury industry operates.

Thanks to Italy’s sinful cappuccinos students managed to stay alert for one more presentation. Cyndi Ceglia, Training Manager at the iconic Salvatore Ferragamo, presented a brief history of the company, its founder and values. Similar to the discussion held with Bottega earlier in the day, Ms. Ceglia emphasized the significance Italian craftsmanship plays in the long-term success and reputation of the company.

The final day of the trip began at the headquarters of Ermenegildo Zegna, where Filippo Cavalli, Licensing Manager, highlighted the important role licensing has played in the growth of Zegna throughout the years. Finding the right partners to work with for licensing new products is imperative to Zegna’s reputation and its distinctive elegance. The presentation was followed by a tour of the modern offices and showroom with HR Manager, Francesca Albera.

After meeting with various companies and individuals in the luxury industry, students had the opportunity to learn how to use these contacts and the information learned to help land their dream jobs. The group held its final meeting with Enza Stagni, Headhunter at Eurosearch, who discussed productive techniques for job search, interviews and networking.

A trip is not complete without some champagne and cake. To celebrate Annalisa Tarquini’s birthday and thank her for her outstanding job organizing the trip, the group gathered at Eats restaurant at the new Excelsior Concept Store in the heart of Milan and devoured the Italian torta ripiena frutta specially ordered for the occasion. Spending time in the fashion capital of the world was inspirational, educational and most importantly fun thanks to an outstanding group of students and wonderful group leader.

A video of the trip done by Lina Gantar: