To coincide with the launch of BoF Careers, the global marketplace for fashion talent, we speak to Chantal Gaemperle, group EVP, human resources and synergies, on what drives the company’s culture.
Chantal Gaemperle of LVMH | Source: Courtesy
PARIS, France — LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton is the world’s largest luxury conglomerate with revenue of more than €29 billion ($40 billion) in 2013. Founded by Bernard Arnault in 1987, the company’s portfolio encompasses five sectors: wines and spirits, watches and jewellery, selective retailing, perfumes and cosmetics, and fashion and leather goods. The group operates over 3,000 stores and employs over 110,000 people. Present in over 50 countries, LVMH has consistently acted as a pioneer in new and emerging markets, and is arguably the most international luxury conglomerate.
Within its portfolio of 70 of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands, LVMH operates some of the most celebrated fashion brands in the business, including Louis Vuitton, Céline, Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, and Givenchy — all driven by world-class talent. It is by conceiving the LVMH “galaxy” of brands as a large talent academy for recruiting, cultivating and deploying industry leading personnel, that LVMH has achieved and sustained its market position.
Current group EVP, human resources and synergies Chantal Gaemperle explains how impact unites everyone who works at the group.
BoF: LVMH is the world’s largest luxury group, with €29 billion ($40 billion) in revenue and more than 70 brands. What does that mean for the people who work here?
CG: LVMH is flourishing, but I think what is less known from outside is how much the group has grown in terms of the souls behind the brands here. When I joined LVMH in 2007 we were probably about 60,000 employees and today we’re at about 110,000. In seven years I think that’s quite significant growth.
BoF: So, spotting and nourishing the right talent is more important than ever before.
CG: It is. Even more so in luxury than anywhere else. Because we are trying to reinvent the brands, trying to set trends, and selling dreams in many ways, this takes special personalities. You don’t have to go up to the creative director or CEO, you can see it at store management.
BoF: What does the vast ecosystem of brands and disciplines at LVMH offer to a professional working in the luxury sector?
CG: Perspectives. Unique perspectives, which are unparalleled. We are sitting in a group which is a galaxy of brands, across different sectors, LVMH is the binding or roof if you like. If you are a talent today looking at making a career in the luxury sector we are able to accompany you through a journey, not only a job, but really a journey because of the multiple opportunities we have to offer, in different sectors and different geographies. Last year, we had 2,700 managers who moved within the ecosystem.
What is as important as numbers is that we created a platform directly linked to our business strategy. Say we want to develop our business in Africa tomorrow, do we have the organisation that can support that, the right people, the right skills? In HR you work with timelines that are long, anticipating needs and building strengths. This helps us to retain and develop different experiences in our talents, transfer know-how and best practices, building a sense of community and belonging.
BoF: I can see how this works for LVMH. But why is mobility an important part of the professional experience?
CG: Mobility is key. People certainly join a company, a house, a ‘Maison’, but they more and more pay attention to the whole ecosystem it belongs to, and to what the values are behind it. How successful is the group? How solid is it financially? How can I make an impact and have meaning in my work? People today are attracted to a place that offers long-term prospects.
It is not enough to attract and source the right talent. You want that person to develop and flourish so he or she can be retained. The more you take care of your people, not only the more you can retain them, but the more it gets known inside and outside. People see that at LVMH mobility is not only a promise, it’s happening. Two jobs out of three, in our key positions, are filled internally.
As a young professional you may be joining Sephora, but, one day, you could be the head of Fred – a small jewellery brand with great potential. It’s aspirational, it’s great!
BoF: What about training?
CG: Regardless of what brand they work for, and what training they are receiving, we want everyone to be exposed to the variety and perspectives of the group as a whole.
For instance, the RISE (Results in Social Entrepreneurship) programme mixes two key dimensions because it is both a social-responsibility project and a talent-development project. It couples an internal talent, who can be from anywhere in the world from within LVMH, with someone who has set up a business with a social purpose.
We lend them talent, they work together developing a business plan, a digital platform, etc. That makes our own talent aware of a different reality, while we give skills, coaching, and know-how. It’s giving back while growing.
BoF: What are your thoughts regarding the interactions between creative people and business people at LVMH?
CG: One of the common denominators of all of the training programs is that they all involve creatives – be it the wine-maker, the perfume ‘nose’ or creatives from the fashion houses. It is very important for us to make business people aware of their colleagues in creative capacities, and allow them to see, meet and learn how to deal with creatives, in the larger sense of the word, not only Raf Simons and Nicolas Ghesquière.
BoF: Any advice for prospective applicants to LVMH?
CG: I think what both young professionals joining an employer for the first time and people at a more advanced stage in their careers look for today is meaning; impact. If everyday you see that you can have an impact, and that you are allowed to use precisely what makes you excited to go to work everyday, that’s the best feeling. It will allow you to perform better, but more importantly, it will make you happy and motivated and fulfilled.
Our HR slogan is the ‘Future of Tradition’: you are here to understand the past, be inspired by the history and the roots, but at the same time, make it even more relevant today and tomorrow. We are looking for personalities, for leadership, for cultural fit, for ambassadors of histories, for the ability to work within ambiguous situations and with creative people. And that’s not for everybody – I find it incredibly fascinating.
This post is sponsored by LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton. To explore career opportunities at this company, please visit the LVMH company page on BoF Careers, the global marketplace for fashion talent.
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