By her own admission, Emma Labouly arrived at emlyon business school slightly intimidated by how diverse her classmates were in terms of educational and geographical background. However, an eye-opening study and professional placement in New York that she actively sought as part of the MSc in Luxury Management & Marketing proved as fruitful for her personal development as her career trajectory. Now working for Ralph Lauren in Paris, she recounts the life-changing impact that the international component of the program has had on her.

From what background did you arrive at emlyon business school in 2021?

Emma: Previously my studies were in General Management, covering such areas as accounting, finance, and marketing. However, I was harboring a personal and professional interest in the luxury industry, and not just fashion, which tends to be the main focus of a lot of equivalent programs on the market. And there I found myself, with my fairly classic French educational background plunged into a cohort of people with roots and experiences from all around the world. It was a steep learning curve!

What influenced your choice of emlyon for the study and work path you had in mind?

Emma: Luxury was the main objective, but I wanted to find and create a niche for myself by exploring in depth an area in which I could then specialize. I wanted to learn about all facets of the sector, and not just fashion. I was also very much drawn by the opportunity to spend part of the curriculum abroad, in either London, Rome or New York. As for the business school as a whole, its reputation, standing, and positive ranking results are very good reasons why it is held in such high esteem in France and abroad. But I must say, the international opportunity, the fact the program is taught in 100% in English, and the possible job prospects that it offers swayed my decision.

What were the reasons behind you opting for New York?

Emma: In terms of what I wanted to discover, I found London overly fashion-oriented and Rome too business-focused. For me, New York offered more opportunities, the chance for total immersion into a different working culture that can be both cut-throat but also replete with opportunities. I also felt that I would learn more about the services that operate within the luxury industry, the dynamics of client relations, the reality of being a service provider within such an industry, plus the key issue of CSR within so rapidly changing an environment.


It is important to note that the final decision on the destination among Rome, London, and New York rests with the program director, Florence Rollet, with students merely submitting options that they must justify in relation to their career plans.


What support did you receive from the school?

Emma: A particular mention must be given to my tutor Florence Rollet, as well as Professor Michel Phan. They advised not just on academic matters relating to the program but also on some of the practical steps required to go and live and work in a place like The States. Florence, in particular, showed her belief in me and was always on hand to assist, be it with the writing of my dissertation or the professional decisions I was weighing up. The emlyon Alumni Forever was also a great source of help for the advancement of my professional project.

What were the key takeaways from this experience?

Emma: At first, it was quite a challenge – The States are very different from France and the New York-based luxury industry is quite different from others, so I'd say I learned as much about myself as a person as well as an up-and-coming professional. I really came out my shell, learning how to communicate effectively, believe in myself, grow my personal brand, and show what I was truly capable of. Doing business in the US involves a lot less protocol, but if you are not driven to succeed and do not project yourself sufficiently in a working context, you risk falling by the wayside. In all objectivity, I have emerged from the experience far more resourceful and resilient and consequently returned to France afterwards with an extra impetus to succeed in the luxury industry.”

How has your professional project avanced since your time abroad?

Emma: Following a six-month internship at Ralph Lauren working as a Wholesale and Marketing Assistant for the EMEA region, a maternity replacement opportunity arose as a Junior Sales and Marketing Coordinator. Then I got wind of a new position that had just been created, thanks to my colleagues at the time. Based on the period working with them, they urged me to apply and, perhaps with this new-found confidence from my time in New York, I decided to go for it! Fast forward to the present and I have now held the permanent position of Sales Operations Associate since the beginning of 2024, still at Ralph Lauren.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering a similar direction to yours?

Emma: If you want to try an international placement like I did in New York, be prepared for some of the administrative hurdles you have to overcome. Once that achieved, make the absolute most of it but also be realistic about what awaits – as I learned on the job, you'll need to be resourceful and resilient, but it'll pay dividends. Above all, be prepared from day one – competition for jobs within the luxury industry is fierce, so develop a sound career strategy and above all work as hard as possible on your personal branding to improve your chances of employment.