Student Name: Silvia Airaghi
Graduate Business School: HEC Paris
Describe Yourself In 15 Words: A curious and determined person with a passion for sustainable development of the luxury industry.
Master’s Graduation Class: 2020
Undergraduate School and Major: Bocconi University, International Economics and Management.
Current Employer and Job Title: Salvatore Ferragamo, Sustainability Specialist.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest achievement so far has been receiving a full-time offer to join Salvatore Ferragamo amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused great uncertainties in the luxury industry. When I decided to continue my studies in 2019 after receiving the offer from HEC Paris, my boss at Salvatore Ferragamo, Veronica Tonini, encouraged me to pursue new experiences and accept the offer. Towards the end of my experience at HEC Paris, Veronica told me that she truly valued having me on the team the previous year and she proposed I rejoin as Sustainability Specialist. Those words and the offer have made me proud of myself. She, the team, and the company believe in me, and that is what counts the most.
Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: During the first semester at HEC, I participated with a group of peers in the LVMH Sustainable Beauty Challenge, an initiative that allowed students from all over the world to submit innovative ideas for the beauty industry. Together with my team, I was selected as one of the 30 finalists among more than 900 participants and we participated in a two-day hackathon to develop a concept for sustainable luxury cosmetics, mentored by LVMH Top Management.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose HEC Paris for its enormous prestige and the fact that it’s recognized as one of the top business schools in Europe, especially for early career programs. Furthermore, it’s tight link with the luxury industry and its close proximity to Paris appealed to me.
What led you to choose a Master’s in Marketing over an MBA? Having less than one year of professional experience, I was not eligible for an MBA. I therefore evaluated different academic opportunities and looked for early career programs with a focus on marketing and the luxury industry: two areas of interest that I didn’t fully explore in my undergraduate studies. Also, I valued the fact that a Specialized Master is a one-year program, while most of the MBAs generally last two years.
What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? Undoubtedly my favorite course has been Strategic Brand Management. Attending this course helped me understand how to structure an effective and successful brand strategy – a key factor in the luxury industry. I acquired a more comprehensive vision of the methods necessary to integrate creativity and innovation in the management of brands, and it has been particularly helpful in my job as Sustainability Specialist at Salvatore Ferragamo.
What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? Right after finishing my studies at HEC Paris, I decided to return to Salvatore Ferragamo to work as Sustainability Specialist in the Sustainability & Strategy team. The company has offered me the great opportunity of a full-time job, and I was more than pleased to return to a team that believes in me and in the skills acquired at HEC Paris. The school has given me the opportunity to better understand the key success factors that are crucial during professional interviews for the luxury industry; during the program I had the opportunity to learn from a variety of courses and events with professionals and alumni. The knowledge acquired helped me in standing out during the career fair and events where I met alumni and talent acquisition managers of the luxury industry.
How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? I have loved studying along with my classmates; they are incredibly bright people. Our class was so diverse in terms of countries of origin and previous studies, and I believe that this diversity has really enhanced our experience. The various points of views and ideas were reflected in daily peer-to-peer discussions and in the high number of group-works, resulting in unconventional and brilliant outcomes.
Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? Among all the faculty members that have enriched my experience at HEC Paris, my favorite is Gachoucha KRETZ, Academic Director of the MSc Marketing and Associate Professor of Marketing. She has a way of relating with her students and fully bringing her experience and knowledge of marketing and brand management into class. Plus, her constant availability made a difference in my learning. Also, thanks to her extensive network, she put together a very diverse academic team of professors and guest speakers, giving us the possibility to learn from and connect with edgy and expert professionals, faculty members and coaches.
What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Discover your interests and build your success story around them to stand out in the crowd. Be curious and responsive to stimuli. Build a strong network reaching out to people with a similar path to your career ambitions and your target business school alumni.
What was your best memory from your Master’s program? Unfortunately, my master’s program was partially remote due to Covid-19; nonetheless I have great memories, and I think the best one is the people that I met and the friendships that I have built. We created bonds that will last a lifetime.