American Marketer


LVMH nurtures young engineering talent through school partnership

March 9, 2015

Louis Vuitton Spirit of Travel 2014 campaign image; the house received recognition for its supply chain Louis Vuitton Spirit of Travel 2014 campaign image; the house received recognition for its supply chain


Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is helping to train the engineers of tomorrow by participating in the Ecole Centrale Paris engineering school’s Supply Chain management chair.

Specialists from LVMH brands, as well as companies Carrefour, Safran and Sanofi, will be involved in the Industrial Engineering curriculum at the school, and will also provide hands-on training through internships. Luxury brands often have trouble finding the right talent to fill particular roles, so this partnership will begin to develop long-term relationships with those who might be able to work with the conglomerate in the future.

"Based on partnerships between companies and NCSU, I believe that LVMH is partnering with Ecole Centrale Paris to stay current with best practices, leverage the school's research directions to help solve specific problems or at least develop problem solving methodologies and to see for themselves what skills top performers learn," said Brad Ashbaugh, lecturer at the Global Luxury Management program at NC State University’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management, Raleigh, NC.

"The view of competition has evolved from between companies to between supply chains," he said. "Great companies have realized that having better suppliers and coordination between supply chain partners can be leveraged into competitive advantage.

"Global sourcing creates many opportunities to partner with best in class suppliers but creates many challenges. For instance, the movement of products across the globe lengthens lead times which reduces responsiveness to customer demand. This impacts forecasting, logistics, inventory management, and operations.

"Top Industrial Engineering and Operations Management programs are well positioned to help companies such as LVMH navigate this evolving competitive landscape."

Mr. Ashbaugh is not affiliated with LVMH, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

LVMH was unable to comment directly.

Coming together
LVMH supply chain specialists from Louis Vuitton, Parfums Christian Dior, Guerlain, Sephora and Moët Hennessy will participate in the activities of the program through 2018.

Louis Vuitton was the first French company to earn an ISO 14001 certification, recognizing its leather goods supply chain as environmentally sound, from shipments to workshops to store deliveries.

Louis Vuitton Supply Chain

Louis Vuitton supply chain

Within the engineering school, supply chain management is one of the most popular specialized subjects. The skills developed are also in-demand at the LVMH houses, translating to innovations in sustainable production technology, IT systems and the organization of inventory.

This allows the conglomerate to begin to have a hand in training potential employees from a young age.

Students will take part in research projects and case studies. LVMH is making information and staff available to students to help inform their research.

The group will in turn be able to benefit from the conclusions reached, using the findings to inform their own supply chains.

Adding to the hands-on experience, students will be able to intern at one of the participating companies.

LVMH Ecole Centrale Paris

LVMH at Ecole Centrale Paris

The four companies within the chair will also speak during committee meetings in order to share best practices and address key issues within supply chain management. LVMH is set to focus on “Supply Chain Performance” and “Agility & Resilience.”

Managers and engineers within LVMH will be able to access training, so they can benefit from the latest findings in academia. Ecole Centrale Paris also helped the group set up its LVMH Supply Chain Academy, which teaches leaders outside the field about challenges.

"When students see what they are learning being used by real companies, especially industry leaders like LVMH, it certainly raises their enthusiasm," Mr. Ashbaugh said. "This translates into better attention, better learning, better projects and ultimately better graduates."

Cultivating talent
LVMH has set up other training programs to combat talent drought.

Since brands continue to struggle to recruit adequate creative talent, LVMH has created a professional training program, L’Institut des Métiers D’Excellence, or IME, to lessen the burden.

LVMH’s IME program allows the company to voice its need for artisans while supporting young talent as they develop their crafts to ensure that the skills of the trade remain strong for future generations. The program, launched in September, gives IME trainees accredited degrees through paired apprenticeships with LVMH houses (see story).

The group will also support 20 École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales business school students for the 25th year running.

ESSEC’s program aims to teach and train individuals interested in joining the luxury industry, and with the LVMH-ESSEC chair the French conglomerate is incorporated into the student’s curriculum. LVMH is able integrate the students’ learning with brand styles and techniques, breeding the new generation of potential executives (see story).

"College partnerships offer companies willing to provide adequate time for engagement great advantages," Mr. Ashbaugh said. "For one, they are more likely to meet and influence the best graduates.

"At NCSU, engaged companies often participate in practicum classes where a team of students comes in to help diagnose and solve real industry problems," he said. "Often these industry savings are significant.

"Knowing student capabilities in advance can also reduce risk in the hiring process."

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York