A Career in Luxury: Passion Required

27 Feb. 2017

What’s the secret of success in the luxury goods business? That’s a key question many young marketing professionals in the sector are asking these days. In my view, you need passion if you're going to succeed. It's the only thing that will last. Passion is also linked to creativity which is an invaluable quality in life.

In a recent LinkedIn post, I touched upon the topic of passion and the luxury goods business. As a lecturer and consultant specializing in luxury and marketing, I am often asked by young, aspiring hoteliers and marketing professionals in the luxury goods business, what is the secret of success? In my view, you need passion if you're going to succeed. It's the only thing that will last. Passion is also linked to creativity which is an invaluable quality in life.

All luxury goods businesses, as well as luxury hospitality, sell a dream. To do so, they need to focus on the brand's DNA – and, of course, the passion. Without passion, the extraordinary becomes the mundane, the ordinary. And who wants to be mediocre?

Companies are using the same approach in the search for talent as their brand managers are looking for people with passion. 

The luxury goods and hospitality sectors both work in almost the same way – as a quasi-religion. First of all, customers – and employees – have to be true believers. Second, one has to practice the faith by manifesting that belief in daily life.

The luxury goods and hospitality business is hard work, physically and emotionally, and it can wear you down fast. In practice, it can be very challenging to manage clients and satisfy customers. However, if you are a true believer in luxury, you believe in the dream you are selling, are passionate in how you provide customer service, and take pleasure in transmitting the dream to others. 

You own the process and continually seek new ways of improving that process, with results which are creative. In turn, you become the dream and part of the family yourself.    

If you want to advance your career in this sector, you need to find your passion and let it guide you in how you perform your role. It is not about what you do, but rather why you do it.          

At a recent panel discussion at EHL’s Career Fair on discovering and understanding the world of luxury, panelists from Tesla and Burberry shared their views on their brands' DNA and what, for them, makes their companies' culture so special.

There was plenty of passion on display during the session. Xavier Le Clerc, who handles HR for Burberry in France and Northern Europe, told the Career Fair audience of EHL students that ownership is a very strong value at the company. "You own the process. That means you take the credit, but you also take the responsibility that goes with it. And that's okay, because if you make a mistake the good news is you're going to learn from it. We don't hire people who are robots. We want them to make mistakes, and we expect them to make mistakes."

For Mathieu Lenglin, who had switched to selling Tesla cars after working for one of the traditional car brands, Tesla is a dynamic brand, with its founder and CEO Elon Musk sending employees new ideas every day. “You have the freedom to react quickly at Tesla … That's the beauty of this company."

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