Talent Management Lessons from Successful Luxury Brands

talent management
Topic(s): business strategy, human resource management, human resources, strategic HR, talent management
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Luxury’s Talent Factory
Authors: A. Shipilov and F. Godart
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

How do luxury brands excel at talent management? A Harvard Business Review article (Shipilov and Godart, 2015) outlines how the world’s most influential luxury groups have more than just an eye for design; they also have an eye for talent.

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNAL MOBILITY

You may have never heard of the luxury groups LVMH, Richemont, and Kering, but the names of some of the brands they boast, including Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Gucci, should ring a bell. These industry leading organizations and labels epitomize all that is glamorous, but did you know that they are also trend-setters in talent management? These companies are quite astute at rotating their talent across brands and within their business portfolios to maintain high performers, and to provide new and diverse learning experiences for their employees.

Further, their emphasis on internal mobility allows for a sharing of best practices and information across brands, and ensures that new ideas and fresh perspectives are proliferated throughout the business. The authors report that close to two-thirds of management openings in LVMH are filled by people coming from within LVMH. Staying within the same luxury group enables employees to benefit from established relationships, and further grow their networks within the broader luxury group.

Because these luxury mega-giants have world-wide operations, with offices located around the globe, talented employees can be selected for international assignment, offering cross-cultural exposure and international perspective.

EVALUATING AND GROOMING FUTURE LEADERS

These luxury firms have also developed formal programs to inspire and support employees as they consider new internal opportunities. For example, employees at Richemont are evaluated on four business critical dimensions: 1) mental agility 2) results orientation 3) change management and 4) people management. Individuals who demonstrate these qualities and excel in these areas are considered for key senior-level roles. Similarly, LVMH’s “Future As” program serves as a leadership pipeline, grooming successful managers to be future company executives.

UNIQUE TALENT STRATEGIES

Unlike the succession planning and talent development efforts of rival firms, these groups’ talent development programs are unique in the following ways:

  • Employees aren’t aware that they have been chosen for these programs. Keeping high potential status off the record avoids disheartening and disengaging productive individuals who were not selected into high potential groups.
  • There is no one fixed and typical career path. High potential talent can be rotated through a host of different brands, and for varied amounts of time depending upon the business environment and company needs.
  • Participants are taught the history of the brands. Employees are encouraged to develop a deep appreciation for each brand and its past.  

Think leaving these labels to pursue new experiences outside the group signals the end of your career at one of these icons? Not always. LVMH regularly re-hires former employees, taking advantage of skills acquired and lessons learned during their posts at other firms.

These unique talent models make LVMH, Richemont, and Kering employers of choice in their industry, as well as in the broader talent market, showing rival firms that strategic talent management has never been more in style.

 

Shipilov, A. & Godart, F. (2015). Luxury’s Talent Factory: How Companies like LVMH, Kering, and Richemont Groom Designers and Managers. Harvard Business Review. 93(7), 98–104.