When you think of luxury, certain images come to mind. A designer handbag, an opulent hotel, a sleek sports car. Perhaps you might think of a trip to a Michelin-starred restaurant. Or a 100% organic, sustainable, perfectly fitting pair of jeans. Whatever you conjure up, it should all lead back to goods and experiences of the highest quality and standard.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in France. A pinnacle of culture, France has a long-standing history of being one of — if not the — most luxurious countries in the world. People flock from every corner of the globe to shop in Paris, the world’s fashion capital and home to some of the most highly sought-after designer brands. That’s not to distract from the classic elegance of France’s many opera houses, castles, and decadent cuisine.
Combined, this makes France the ideal destination for students seeking out a future in the world of luxury, fashion, and hospitality. Many choose to do so at SKEMA Business School.
As one of France’s leading business schools, SKEMA has made a name for itself on the global stage. The Financial Times ranked it as the third best institution worldwide for its MSc Financial Markets and Investments; L’Etudiant ranked it as the fifth best school to study a Master in Management; and its MSc International Marketing and Business Development is ranked 11th best worldwide by QS. There’s also the matter of its seven global campuses across five countries: Brazil, China, France, South Africa, and the US.
Its distinguishing feature? Specialised courses focused on the world of luxury.
One of these is the MSc Global Luxury and Management, a full-time programme with eight months of courses followed by the opportunity to partake in work experience. Students study one semester in SKEMA’s Raleigh campus in the US as well as doing some courses in New York City, hosted by the NYU School of Professional Studies; the second semester takes place in Paris, providing for real international immersion across the two continents.
“Nowadays luxury needs managers who are operational and know how to adapt, be agile and open-minded,” says Emmanuelle Rigaud-Lacresse, the programme director. “For young managers, it’s really important to understand luxury codes and values, and to have emotion and sensibility. The multicultural dimension is essential to understanding customers and all stakeholders.”
Direct exposure to the industry drives the programme’s curriculum. Students work closely with a number of prominent luxury companies through missions, internships, and meetings with professionals in the sector. “We want to give students all the competencies to understand sustainable and connected luxury in a multicultural environment,” adds Rigaud-Lacresse.
At the end of the programme, students graduate with a degree that is recognised and licensed by The University of North Carolina System and, on the European side, accredited by the Conference des Grandes Ecoles.
Another SKEMA master’s is the MSc Luxury and Fashion Management, which focuses on developing students’ skills in design, trend recognition and marketing — all of which make today’s luxury and fashion firms successful.
“I’ve really enjoyed all the classes, especially on luxury communication, branding, design, research and sustainability,” shares graduate Dr Mukta Ramchandani. “There was always so much to learn from the professors, who had years of experience in the luxury sector. My most memorable class was about independent luxury brands and the strategies used in their branding. I still apply a lot of that knowledge to my current career.”
Ramchandani’s experience at SKEMA acted as a valuable stepping stone for the rest of her career. Since graduating, she’s worked in the luxury industry in Milan and Dubai, and published several research papers and book chapters in the world of academia. She now owns a sustainable luxury fashion brand in Switzerland, where she currently resides.
Similarly, Swiss-born Cedric Laforge is another MSc Luxury and Fashion Management graduate who found success in the industry. He has worked with Backes & Strauss and Chopard, and is now an international marketing operations manager at Vacheron-Constantin. He credits his internship at Cartier, as part of SKEMA’s programme, as the launching point for his passion for fine watchmaking.
“I apply most of the knowledge I gained from the programme in my daily working life,” Laforge says. “I very much remember the importance of being creative and differentiating everything we do in marketing and communication activations.”
There’s also the MSc Luxury Hospitality and Innovation, a unique dual degree programme that prepares professional managers for careers in luxury hospitality. Students are taught the challenges of globalisation, the importance of the visitor experience, and the technical skills and knowledge required to be effective leaders in the industry.
“The programme is in English and the classes focus on what you’re really going to use in your future job,” says Anaïs Pralois, a former student of the programme. “The teachers are professionals working in the industry and most of them are international. Some of them are former students as well, which is really rewarding and stimulating for us.”
On the MSc Luxury Hospitality and Innovation, students spend one semester at the Ecole Ferrières’ campus, which is situated in a luxurious French castle, at the Château of Ferrières-en-Brie, near Paris, while the other is spent at SKEMA’s campus in Paris.
The combination of an expert-led academic curriculum with direct industry exposure ensures students benefit from impressive employment opportunities. In 2020, 90% of SKEMA’s masters’ graduates found employment after graduation at an average gross salary of 53,000 euros.
Above all, it’s a natural result of studying in France, a country rich with opportunities for a career with the most distinguished designers and companies in the world. Students are able to step out into the world and seamlessly integrate into the luxury realm — with the “savoir-faire”, confidence, and sophistication needed to find unparallelled success.