Frozen foods division ofUnilever before joining Gucci in 2004. LVMH has recruited several non-industry leaders, including Laurent Boillot, formerly of Unilever. Liberty pic hired Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye, who was with Disney for many years before joining LVMH, while Dr. Bruno E. Salzer worked at Beiersdorf and Schwarzkopfbefore becoming CEO of Hugo Boss. Stanislas de Quercize, president of Cartier and expresident ofVan Cleef & Arpels, started his career at Procter & Gamble.
But the big three, LVMH,
Richemont, and Kering, although open to external high-potential recruits, are undoubtedly more comfortable trying to nurture employees who are already within the organization or at least within the industry, and are now investing in their talent resources to nurture leaders for tomorrow. BigorsmaU: The big three, with time, have transformed themselves into multicultural, multibrand conglomerates. While it is difficult to generalize, managers coming into the industry from outside tend to be more effective whenjoininglarger businesses than smaller ones. Culturally and in other ways, it is easier for larger
companies to assimilate outsiders, but that is not to say that smaller companies could not benefit greatly from an infusion ofleadership talent with experience of different sectors and global markets. The challenge is to find leaders who possess a high level of sensitivity and who recognize the importance of present ng the inherent value of abrand.
International versus local: The
industry is in a state offlux and is undecided. There is little consensus, even from an academic point of view, on how to modernize the luxury industry. Those who defend exclusivity and brand coherence are equally passionate about adapting to, and meeting the needs of, emerging markets. Some state that local distribution will be the key to success, and that new ways of doing business (such as going digital and e-commerce) are critical, while still arguing against employing mass- market tactics for fear of diluting that sense of exclusivity and even opulence that is the very hallmark ofluxuiy.
Thus, where can one find this manager, the leader who is best equipped to handle the seemingly contradictory elements of developing
new markets, opening up new distribution channels, adapting to diverse cultural expectations, and preserving exclusivity and brand coherence, while operating within a far tougher, more competitive commercial environment?
Manage talent in the digital era or stickto the traditional: The
competencies required for the digital and the traditional luxury world are notthe same. To be ambidextrous is a key challenge. Burberry and Polo Raph Lauren have embraced the digital world with ease, while many are still struggling. For example, Burberry is often recognized as a digital luxury leader. With two enthusiastic advocates steeringthe company, CEO Angela Ahrendts and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey (nowpromoted to CEO, since Angela Ahrendts left for Apple in 2014), the firm has intertwined creativity, technology, and management in a way that has helped generate consumer interest in Burberry’s products via its digital projects. Through their Art of the Trench crowd-sourcing site, a three- dimensional Iivestream show, and, most recently, an interactive digital ad campaign, Ahrendts and Bailey have facilitated collaboration across several functional departments, making everyone work together in the name of digital innovation.
Thus the ambidextrous luxury manager needs to have a portfolio of skill-sets that will make him or her comfortable in this industry… As in all industries, one size does not fit all. The luxury industry has witnessed a sea of change in the internal and the external environment during the past 20 years, and the styles of top management have evolved over that time. The specificities pertaining to these changes had profound implications on the styles of management and governance ofthese companies. 33
With permission from Wiley