One of the key assets of the Imperial College Business School is the extensive Career & Professional Development Service, part of which there are a number of clubs run by and for students. Ranging from region-based clubs, such as the Africa Business Club, to industry-specific ones, such as the Fintech Club, they represent an unprecedented opportunity for students to confront theories to real-case scenarios and network with industry companies.
This year was marked by the opening of three new careers clubs, the story of one I would like to share with you; the Luxury Goods & Retail Club. I have chosen this club because it is indicative of the diversity and the expansion of the Business School’s cohort, and the sectors graduates join after completing their studies. In fact, commonly graduates from the Business School have pursued careers in finance, consulting, consumer goods, and energy. But currently there is a shift towards students also considering the retail, luxury, and digital sectors.
The story of the Luxury Goods & Retail Club begins when four girls, who just started their MSc Management, were faced with the choice of joining Career Clubs. However, they quickly alluded that there wasn’t a club that entirely matched their interests. So what could they do?
I am talking to the co-Founder and co-President of the Luxury Goods & Retail Career Club, Kristina Hellmich, about the creation of the club, and its achievements in its first operational year.
Kristina, tell me why you decided to create the Luxury Goods & Retail Club?
“At the beginning of the year, my peers and I were looking for clubs to join that matched both our interests and our expertise. My background is fairly unique compared to many people on my course; I come from a geological and gemmological background, and I want to pursue a career within the luxury jewellery industry. It was at this point that we spotted a gap within the clubs that Imperial offered. Myself, alongside three of my colleagues used our own intuition and began the proceedings to found the club ourselves.”
What was the procedure you then undertook?
“Initially, we started by surveying our cohort as well as other programmes in the Business School to determine whether there was enough interest in a Luxury Goods & Services Career Club. We also asked if there were other aspects our target audience wanted us to cover, and that’s when the Retail part was integrated into the society’s offering. With the support of the Career Service, we finalised the proposal, went through a very strict procedure, and finally went officially live on 1st of November!”
So you were four, and your team today consists of seven members, did you recruit students?
“Yes, we recruited three members after interviewing a dozen students. That was quite an experience. I now think the best way to improve in interviews is actually by interviewing yourself – I had never thought about this before!”
I’ll take a note of that! We are in June and this academic year flew by so fast! What have you achieved in these very short 8 months?
“We have hosted four successful events this year, which was the figure we targeted at the beginning of the year. Our first event was hosted one month after the official launch of the club, so it was a very hectic, but enjoyable time for us! Each event was chaired by a member of the Luxury Goods and Retail committee, and I took it upon myself and had the honour to chair the last event. This was in conjunction with my personal beliefs and interests so being the moderator of this event was an invaluable opportunity!”
Have you established some sort of KPIs to evaluate your Club’s performance?
“From the outset it was determined that the best form of KPIs to measure our Club’s success was quantitative. So we took into account the number of members signed up to the club, the number of attendees per event as well as the number of jobs secured or connections made through the club. However, with this being said, in a context of event management we realized that qualitative KPIs should also be considered. In fact, after our “Building Sustainable Supply Chains” event, I was approached by a number of individuals who outlined that they learnt new lines of thinking, and new information regarding the gemstone mining and jewellery sectors. It is this exact reason that we founded the club: not only to gain exposure to highly successful individuals within the luxury goods and retail sector, but also raise awareness across our peers. Another interesting anecdote: my colleague, and now business partner, Carolina Neri mentioned that a contact of hers applied to Imperial College Business School after discovering our club existed. Isn’t this quite spectacular?”
What’s next for the Luxury Goods & Retail Club?
“For now, we are recruiting the team to replace us next year. We have had a great deal of interest– and I invite future students of the Imperial College Business School to follow up with the club – there is a lot of potential. My vision for the future of the club is to focus on sponsorships and to establish strong relationships with the world’s most successful retail and luxury goods companies. This would be a stepping stone for the thriving of the club.”
To round off this lovely interview with you, I would be interested to know what is next for you, Kristina?
“Well, next week I am travelling to Paris for my summer exchange programme, where I am undertaking the Luxury Management certificate at HEC Paris. I am very excited! In terms of career prospects: I am currently working on two side projects, one of which has gathered interest from a VC, so we are currently in discussion. The second is more of a long-term project, I am overlooking to undertake in a few years’ time. And in September, I will be joining a world renowned jeweller to support their Digital Marketing and PR.”
Thank you Kristina for the information and stories you shared with us and good luck on your future endeavours. I am sure that the new club committee will carry on with the initiatives originated by you and your fellow club members.
NOTE TO INTERESTED PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS: If you will begin your MSc studies at Imperial College Business School in the academic year 2017/18 and are interested in becoming part of the Luxury Goods & Retail Club committee, please do not hesitate and get in touch with Kristina Hellmich: T +44 (0) 7478671200 or Email.
Nina studies MSc Management.