Pancham Hariharan: “Professional experiences validate all that we learn at school!”
Indian student Pancham Hariharan (MBA Fashion Business) joined the eponymous brand Marine Serre, winner of the famed LVMH Prize 2017.
Michel Temman: Could you introduce yourself and tell us more about you in a few words?
Pancham Hariharan: I was born in Bombay, India into a household of entrepreneurs. My mum owns a chain of salons which she started in Hong Kong with her Chinese partner. It was decided for me that I would be the heir to her empire! Despite an interest in her trade, I did also love and enjoy things outside of the beauty business. I always loved performing arts and when I registered myself at a dance school at the age of 19, I was approached by the director who asked me to join his company, where he would offer me free ballet training in exchange for teaching Jazz at his school in the evenings. That was the end of that. Two years later, I was given the opportunity to audition at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, were I became the first Indian to be enrolled in the Bachelors of Fine Arts, majoring in Contemporary Dance. During my tenure there, my makeup and hair styling skills came to great use when I would help with the styling for performances like for example Chinese Opera. Here I had the opportunity to discover the costume archives, which went back 30 years. This is when I realized how much I love the fashion industry and that it was in this sector that I wanted to build a career!
M.T.: You were also recruited by Marine Serre recently. How was it possible? A dream come true?
Pancham Hariharan: I was ready to pack up and return to Hong Kong at the end of my MBA Fashion Business at IFA Paris. But I received some advice from the best teacher at IFA Paris, Sandy Bontout, who strongly advised against it. She said “Paris is where it is all happening! This is where you need to be, and learn how to speak French.” And so I did! I literally applied to every job in every company. I was lucky that there were a lot of people interested in meeting me for an interview. I got two offers. One from Louis Vuitton – in the Visual Merchandising – and the other from Marine Serre in Commercial development. I decided to work with Marine Serre as the job would allow me to develop the skills I needed to properly benefit from my MBA degree. Now I work for Marine Serre and it is definitely a dream come true!
M.T.: In few words, what precisely are your functions at Marine Serre and could you tell us few words about this brand?
Pancham Hariharan: I work at Marine Serre as an account executive and for the business development. The team at Marine Serre consists of some on the most amazingly talented people I have met to this day. A young team with razor sharp focus and purpose. The working culture is a positive one, we work quickly and efficiently. In a market oversaturated with brands only keen on making a profit, Marine Serre has a narrative which is so important in today’s context. It is a brand which offers a creative and conscious solution while maintaining the spirit of luxury.
M.T.: You are still pursuing your MBA Fashion Business at IFA Paris. What are you learning and how are your studies valuable?
Pancham Hariharan: Your education is what you make it. Everyone receives the same information, but everyone interprets the knowledge differently. I have some fantastic teachers, who have taught me a great deal: Sandy Bontout, Lutz, Helen and Philippe Mihailovich…
M.T.: Do your studies and this professional experience change your views about fashion design and about the fashion and luxury sectors?
Pancham Hariharan: There are definitely a lot of aha moments and revelations during the course of my education, but professional experiences validate all that we learn at IFA Paris. Some things that sounded unrealistic in class are my reality now! I deal with huge and unimaginable numbers, but this is the luxury fashion industry! Working at the hottest brand on the Parisian fashion scene has opened up so many doors. I work with some of the best retailers in the world and it only keeps getting better!
For more information on the MBA programme pursued by Pancham MBA Fashion Business