In September 2018 right after graduating from IE, Alison Gillot went back to France, the country where she grew up, to start a job at her dream luxury fashion house: CHANEL.
Before starting at IE, Alison worked as a Sales and Customer Operations Manager at the New Balance HQ in Boston, MA. After this job experience, she decided to pursue a double degree at IE Business School: MBA & Master in Market Research & Consumer Behavior.
Nowadays, Alison is a Project Manager in Digital Communication at CHANEL in the Paris office. She started her new job soon after graduating from IE and she is now working specifically in the Watches and Jewelry division of the luxury company.
“Starting at CHANEL was not only a change in the industry but it was also a complete change in the type of role and a full geographical change of scenery going from the U.S. to Spain, and finally back to France”
To know more about Alison’s career strategy and industry shift continue reading the conversation between Alison and Anny Alarcón, IE Master in Management 2019 student and Career Ambassador.
Can you please tell us briefly about your new job?
My role consists of orchestrating the global digital campaigns that we launch for jewelry and watches collections in all the markets around the world. I work in very close collaboration with the Artistic Direction, the Marketing team, and all the regional teams to ensure the best campaign development and roll-out. We work on each campaign from concept creation, to asset creation (ECRM, Social Media, website, Display, etc.), to the local adaptation and final global launch.
Has your personal career strategy always been focused on this job? How does this new job fit into your career strategy?
After graduating from Bentley University with a Marketing Bachelor’s degree in 2012, I set a plan to first acquire strong working experience in the 4-5 years that followed, to then apply concrete professional learnings and enrich them with an MBA.
Four years later, I was managing a team of eight Account Managers at New Balance, had learned so much about Operations and all different functions of a footwear and apparel company, the retail industry, and I was ready to move forward.
As planned, I decided to join one of the World’s most prestigious MBA program and relocated to Madrid to start the Dual Degree program in 2017. Starting at IE, I was determined to make an industry switch and come back to Luxury after graduating. Added to that, I also wanted a change in function; I wanted to transition to a more customer driven and centric role.
Needless to say, the MBA and specialization with the second Master enabled me to do just that as I landed in Digital Communication at CHANEL.
How did you find out about this job opportunity?
I saw the opportunity on CHANEL’s career website. I applied online and then spoke with my career advisor, Andrea Gutierrez, who coincidently knew someone in HR at CHANEL Paris.
How did Talent & Careers and your IE experience help you during the recruiting process? Did you use specific career resources or did you come across useful information via an Advisor or Alumni?
Andrea Gutierrez helped me by passing along my CV through a more direct channel. As you can imagine, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for any role at CHANEL and, even with a strong and unique background, getting an interview without a connection is quite a challenge… That said, I’m extremely grateful and thankful to Andrea for helping me get a foot in the door of my dream luxury fashion house.
How was the recruiting process?
Because I was in Madrid, and the team was in Paris, all my interviews were conducted over the phone and through video calling. The process was very standard: I sent in a CV and cover letter, then had two interviews with HR, a longer one with my current manager, and two final ones with other project managers of the team. I also shared referrals from New Balance and previous companies where I had worked.
“Take advantage of the career fairs (Andrea's team is really working on tightening relationships with companies from the sector!), participate in relevant programs such as the LVMH Inside program. Join IE Luxury & Fashion club and be an active member, talk to your classmates (some of them could have personal experience in luxury or could simply put you in touch with a relevant connection!) and stay positive!”
Would you want to share any tips or advice with students interested in applying to Chanel to your job position in particular?
First, I would recommend defining well what you want to do and why you want to do it. A lot of applicants think they want to work at CHANEL just because it is CHANEL. This can come out as quite superficial during interviews and it is usually not difficult for the managers or HR to spot in interviews.
In order to stick out, not only does one need to leverage a strong background, show motivation, determination, and willingness to learn, but a visible passion and interest for the industry and the brand makes a significant difference, too. If you are changing industry and do not come from the Luxury sector, be prepared to “start from the bottom”, or at a lower position than where you may have been before. If you take my example, although I used to manage a team, I accepted an individual contributor role to join CHANEL. For me, this was not a problematic concession, as I knew it was a necessary step in order to move back in an industry where I truly wanted to be. I think I was also humble in the way I approached the situation and realized that I also needed to learn in this new field, before moving on again to a managerial role.
Finally, if you really wish to integrate a fashion house like CHANEL, building your network in the industry is key. Take advantage of the career fairs (Andrea’s team is really working on tightening relationships with companies from the sector!), participate in relevant programs such as the LVMH Inside program. Join IE Luxury & Fashion club and be an active member, talk to your classmates (some of them could have personal experience in luxury or could simply put you in touch with a relevant connection!) and stay positive!
Chanel is a privately held company owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who was an early business partner of Coco Chanel. Its products cover clothes, fragrances, handbags and watches. The brand is most famous for its “little black dress”, the Chanel No. 5 perfume and the Chanel Suit. Karl Lagerfeld joined Chanel as its Creative Director in 1983 and continues in the role today at 83 years old. Chanel ranks as the most desirable brand among luxury Chinese consumers. Last year, China became the
second biggest market, after the U.S., for Chanel’s beauty business. The U.S., China and France represent nearly one-third of Chanel’s sales
(Source: Forbes 2018)