Poised, elegant, and fluent in three languages, 24-year-old Pauline Glever looks and speaks like someone in the luxury brand industry.

With a passion for digital, her dream career would be at the confluence of luxury, digital, and omnichannel work. Enrolled in the ESSEC Asia-Pacific’s Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) cohort 2020, Pauline participated in the program’s Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC).

Through the challenge and her stellar performance, her dream came true when she was hired by Parfums Christian Dior—one of the program’s partners. How did it all come about?

Gaining What No Internship Will Offer

The ASC gives ESSEC Asia-Pacific students in the Strategic Consulting or Corporate Strategy tracks a chance to work as consultants for ESSEC’s partners.

This meant an opportunity for Pauline to work closely with LVMH’s Parfums Christian Dior to analyze Chinese travelers’ consumer journeys and behavior. Having interned at LVMH and an artisanal French jewelry brand, Pauline saw the ASC focus on strategic development as the most significant benefit of the challenge.

The difference is simple: “As an intern, you’re mostly involved in the company’s operations. If you’re fortunate that your manager ropes you in for strategic work,” she explains. “The ASC gave us that opportunity and a voice to share our views.”

Stepping into the Real World of Consulting

Equipped with lessons from the SMIB program, Pauline and her team researched various discovery gaps.

What are the major digital touchpoints for Chinese travelers? What is Dior’s presence at each of these touchpoints? And how will Dior stand out in the highly crowded Chinese digital ecosystem?

In true consultant fashion, they divided the study into the research, analysis, and action phases. It was a rigorous process of identifying the different personas in the luxury traveler demographic, analyzing the presence of other brands in the ecosystem, and researching the best practices these brands had taken to engage with the market.

Their strategy was supported with surveys for quantitative data, and they had big plans to head to the Singapore airport to interview travelers for deeper insights.

Letting the SMIB Spirit Shine

Then, COVID-19 disrupted their plans. “The entire dynamism of our strategy was affected,” Pauline recalls, adding that when the travel industry froze, her group doubted their research would still be relevant.

With little time to lament, they took a different approach. Using interviews to assess travelers’ sentiments, they saw what would work for potential campaigns.

This adaptability perhaps impressed the team at Dior the most—scoring the team interviews for full-time positions and, eventually, hiring Pauline on the spot.

Looking back, I see that her journey was not just a test of how well she could apply conceptual ideas but also how effectively she could demonstrate the SMIB spirit of being bold, business-oriented, and open-minded.

She triumphed, walking away with new skills, stories to tell, and a job she dreamed of.