IFA Paris alumna Alexandra Damian, who graduated with a MBA in Luxury Brand Management, has become an expert in digital marketing the last few years. Find the keys of her success in this special interview.
Michel Temman: Could we know more about your passions, career plans and how you reached the fashion and luxury world?
Alexandra Damian: I come from Luxembourg – a small country in between Germany, France and Belgium. My life has been a roller coaster of adventures and worldwide experiences. My expat story began after I left Luxembourg to move to the south of France and pursue a Bachelor in International Business Administration for two years. During that time, my interest for the world of luxury and fashion intensified. This was painted by the many events and personalities all around Cannes, Monaco and Saint-Tropez. I made it my number one priority to be part of the environment as much as possible by working as the staff of Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival (spring-summer 2011 and 2012). During the last year of my Bachelor degree, I moved to Nottingham in the UK to continue my studies abroad. The passion for travelling, fashion and luxury lifestyle then led me to IFA Paris.
M.T.: You worked a lot within the sphere of digital marketing and online industry as Digital Project Manager, Online Retailer and PR Marketing Manager for developing various projects as part of the new economy..
Alexandra Damian: Nowadays, marketers and especially branding managers must be able to incorporate digital strategies into the daily management of their brands. The road to failure will be paved for those unable to keep up with the latest trends in the market. After graduating from IFA Paris, I understood that e-Commerce and Digital Marketing were the two corners of the industry where I was supposed to be! I believe universities should be prepared to install this mind set into their students’ consciousness, educate and train them in order to deliver the next digital leaders. My colleagues and I have been privileged to be trained into the e-commerce of fashion during our MBA in Florence.
M.T.: You were also hired at the European Union Court of Auditors. What was your main task there?
Alexandra Damian: Living in Luxembourg, one of the central locations of the EU Institutions, I aimed at testing a career in the field of Performance Auditing at the EU Court of Auditors. I actively participated in the planning of an effectiveness audit in the area of cohesion policy and biodiversity. I undertook comprehensive risks, which have been used in developing multiple detailed proposals.
M.T.: You joined the MBA Luxury Brand Management at IFA Paris that lead you to their campuses in Shanghai and Paris. How valuable were these experiences?
Alexandra Damian: My MBA experience in these cities has been unprecedented! It has set me up not only to reach career goals and high performance expectations, but it has essentially built my character, enhanced my personality and opened my mind to endless possibilities. Having had the chance to build a network base and friendships with over 40 extremely smart and fascinating individuals – encompasses the most valuable experience of my life. The MBA program itself has provided a great source of knowledge, practical case studies and valuable learning curves, which have paved my way to achieve my career goals! I would like to send my gratitude to the following lecturers and faculty members who have inspired and guided me the most: Adile Cretallaz, Jean-Baptiste Andréani, Tassos Sofroniou and Gianpaolo D’Amico.
M.T.: You worked internationally in Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and China. We are eager to know more about these experiences!
Alexandra Damian: Working for the number one online retailer in South East Asia has been a challenging and insightful experience. Throughout my time in the online fashion industry, I have been involved in creating strategic projects such as the International Brands Acquisition or the private label STITCH (for 5 countries in South East Asia: Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia). The result consisted of category growth, cumulative net merchandise value month over month and great assortment expansion. Moreover, I have created important brand partnerships with brands such as Lee, Lee Cooper, Wrangler, La Sensa, Rip Curl, John Henry, Guess, etc. In addition, I became an expert in creating the fashion benchmarks on both women and men on a regional level. I have executed numerous webinar guidelines to influence Lazada’s merchants’ assortment decisions. In doing so, I have researched and analysed up-coming trends and decided upon the most suitable styles and price ranges for the market place merchants.
M.T.: In more detail, what were your functions?
Alexandra Damian: In a nutshell: I was responsible for building relationships with key partners, mainly with retail license owners in South East Asia. I acted as Key Account Manager for highly important partners, negotiated price points and discount rates with suppliers, placed orders and monitored daily activities and requests. I also developed promotional strategies for seasonal items and key holiday marketing pushes, analysed weekly sales performance and identified potential replenishment. Consequently, I created content, planned photo-shoots and executed them. Shortly after I started my position at Lazada, I received a promotion and became Regional Project Manager. Within that role, I was in charge of the online marketing campaigns across South East Asia. I was team leader of the purchasing department in Guangzhou, China with focus on effectiveness and cost control. Among my greatest achievements in this position was boosting the conversion rate for the private label project, as well as driving the retention rate by 50% month over month.
M.T.: You are also polyglot and speak five languages. Is it essential today, in your opinion, to be able to work in several languages?
Alexandra Damian: Yes, nowadays it is essential to be able to speak more than one foreign language. It provides an advantage and prestige in the fashion and luxury environment (where French, Italian and English are of utmost importance). For me personally, having such skills has proved to be an extraordinary advantage.
M.T.: You were the PR & Marketing Manager for the start-up Social Cloud China, as well as for the Lazada Group and The Portrait of Luxury. How do you perceive the new social network power in China – considering the huge success of WeChat? Did it become the first entry window for any foreign brand?
Alexandra Damian: Having worked in Shanghai, I noticed the unbelievable power of social channels such as WeChat. It is impossible to create a digital campaign without having invested more than 100% of all social media capabilities into it. Facebook, Google and Instagram are blocked in China, therefore all social media efforts must be directed towards the Chinese channels: WeChat, Baidu, Weibo or QQ. In Thailand however, Line is dominating the advertising playground followed closely by Instagram, where emerging brands and designers have the possibility to merchandise their goods.
M.T.: Any new dream or project right now?
Alexandra Damian: My priority at the moment is to make Luxembourg my home base and invest all resources into my career in social media and digital advertising. I will still travel tremendously, however in a more experiential manner, making sure I nurture the friendships I have managed to build through all the years I lived abroad!
To learn more about the MBA pursued by Alexandra at IFA Paris: MBA in Luxury Brand Management