2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Sonja Prokopec, ESSEC Business School

Sonja Prokopec

LVMH Chaired Professor of Luxury Brand Management 

ESSEC Business School


Sonja Prokopec_ESSEC

Since joining ESSEC Business School in 2007, Sonja Prokopec has been working to impact student development. Her contributions to management education include introducing ESSEC’s first ever Consumer Behavior course which is now one of the school’s most popular electives. She is the youngest professor at ESSEC to be given a Chair to manage (at the age of 30) and now serves as the newly appointed director of the Institute for Luxury in Asia where she’ll develop academic programs to be offered at ESSEC’s Singapore campus. Professor Prokopec’s research focuses on luxury brands and the factors that affect their brand perceptions. Outside of teaching and researching, she actively advises companies from the luxury industry in regards to consumer behaviors, trends, consumer research and marketing and brand management issues. She has been working as a consultant in the luxury and related industries with companies such as Estee Lauder, Bacardi, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior among others since 2008. Her impact on and contributions to luxury brands was integral to her being awarded in 2010 the LVMH Chair in Luxury Marketing and Brand Management – one of the two oldest chairs at ESSEC.

Age: 34

At current institution since: 2007

Education: PhD in Marketing, University of Houston, 2007

Courses currently teaching: Consumer Behavior – Master, PhD, and MBA level; Marketing Research – Master level; in charge of the LVMH Chair – a six month specialized program for students interested in entering the luxury industry

Professor you most admire: Dr. Rajesh Chandy (LBS) for being an inspirational teacher, researcher and colleague, and my mentor Dr Ed Blair (UH) for helping so many young faculty and students become successful.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when” I worked as a research assistant to a marketing professor during my MBA

“If I weren’t a b-school professor” I would be a medical doctor

Most memorable moment in the classroom or as a professor: When my entire class of MBA Luxe students took me out for a birthday dinner while we were on a field trip in Florence, Italy

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Becoming the head of the LVMH Chair in Luxury Brand Management

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Interacting with students!

What do you enjoy least? Answering student emails regarding issues all clearly explained in the syllabus

Fun fact about yourself: At one point of my life, I wanted to become a professional tennis player. I ended up receiving a full tennis scholarship at the University of Central Florida and playing in the UCF varsity team (NCAA Division I) for 4 years. I was a member of the winning team of 4 TAAC championships, and helped achieve the best team ranking (#39) in the history of UCF.

Favorite book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Favorite movie: Dangerous Beauty

Favorite type of music: Vocal jazz and R&B

Favorite television show: The Good Wife and Downton Abbey

Favorite vacation spot: Island of Milos, Greece and Dubrovnik, Croatia

What are your hobbies? Sports (tennis, skiing), fashion/art

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have” A required international component – a semester abroad to open one’s mind.

Students say…

Prof. Sonja Prokopec is by far the most remarkable professor I have met in my academic career: knowledgeable, experienced and still open-minded and curious to learn more and more. She is one of those rare breeds that manages to catch your attention, engage you and push you to reveal your best. Sonja Prokopec is also a great mentor. She is always present to listen, understand and help you find your direction. Sonja is someone who truly cares for her students and breaks walls to give them the tools to succeed.

– Ekaterina Hadjipetkova, Master’s in Management at ESSEC Business School

Professor Prokopec was my professor in the in the ESSEC MBA Luxe program. For my classmates and me, she did more than just teach us about research in the classroom; she provided us with tangible tools for the real business world, for example, how to measure consumer attitudes and behaviors and then translate these into a brand marketing strategy.  Her apt use of case-study teaching methods helped bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical.  Her passion for teaching and research was motivating, and this was a passion she also imparted to her students.  We left her class not only with more knowledge and experience but also with more passion for our own work and our own futures.  Professor Prokopec went out of her way to spend time with her students outside the classroom, as well, and for many of us that made her more than just a teacher: she was also a mentor, especially to women like myself entering the business world.

– Marie-Noelle Azar Long, MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School

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