In an exciting new series of our Alumni Network Podcast we chat to EHL graduates who embarked on a bachelor’s adventure at EHL and then pursued master’s degrees across the globe.
Here’s a taster of the latest episode with Valentine Lunel. After graduating from EHL in 2020, Valentine took a Master’s in Management at the ESSEC Business School near Paris. Following this, she joined the spring graduate programme at luxury group LVMH, where her first position was in Business Development for perfumes and projects at Louis Vuitton in Paris.
Taking the time to find her true passion
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what your dreams are. When Valentine Lunel started her bachelor’s at EHL, she wanted to be a hotel director. But in the course of her degree and her various internships, she realised that she would rather specialize in something more product orientated and strategic. “I had a passion for wines and spirits which I also developed at EHL during my extracurricular activities,” she says.
What did your master’s involve?
“It’s a very large program because you have a general track and also a lot of electives which help you specialize in a specific area. For these electives you have what we call Chairs, and with the LVMH Chair you can have specific courses on luxury management and access to different panels of people in the luxury industry and the LVMH Group.”
How beneficial was the LVMH Chair to you?
“It changed everything for me. The rest [of the course] was very broad and general, similar to what we did at EHL, but the specialisation and the partnership between LVMH and ESSEC is something that really made me choose this master’s and it changed the experience. We had conferences every week with people from the industry, people from LVMH maisons, so we could learn about a new job, a new maison, every week. It was a great way to network as well.”
Are the skills you learnt at EHL transferable to luxury?
“Completely. Every time someone says:
oh you studied hospitality, what does that have to do with luxury?
I say ‘everything’. We learn about management first of all, and that’s applicable to any industry, and we learn about client experience and client contact which is at the centre of the experience at LVMH. Whenever you meet anyone from LVMH they tell you the client is at the centre. It’s the same in the hospitality industry; without clients you don’t have anything, you don’t have a hotel, you don’t have a product, you have nothing.”
Afterwards you joined the LVMH graduate scheme, was that a direct result of your master’s?
“Yes. It was a very complicated recruitment process, I was lucky enough to be accepted. There are 14 in this cohort of graduates. It’s a three-year graduate programme on general management, so not on a specific department in the group. We go through different maisons, different jobs, and the goal is to discover the LVMH environment and to choose our own career for after the three years.”
Has this scheme changed your mind about what you want to do?
“I always thought that marketing was the path towards higher positions, but actually it’s not always. I think innovation as a whole, and digital more specifically, are jobs that are going to grow more and more in the future and will differentiate you from others.”
How important are the alumni networks of EHL and ESSEC?
“Crucial. First because you meet people, you discover new positions, new jobs, new industries, but also because these people can help you in the future. I think the EHL alumni network is a lot stronger than the ESSEC alumni network. But in the LVMH Chair, the alumni network is very important. I met an alumnus from the LVMH Chair in July and he told me that he recruits from the LVMH Chair at ESSSEC every year, so it shows how important it is to network and to leverage the alumni network of the school.”
What advice would you give EHL students?
“Something I tell my brother, who is in his last year at EHL, is keep your grades up, and also do a lot of extracurricular activities because it’s something that differentiates you. You might have the same grades but if you do interesting extracurricular activities it shows your motivation, your drive, and it helps you learn a lot. And also think about the path you want to craft for yourself, what you really love to do. I think people are always better at work when they are passionate about what they are doing.”