It’s funny how looking back,Â there wereÂ signs indicating an ultimate path; at the time, they seemed non-sequitor…out of sync.
Two years out of New College, I took the GMAT, frustrated by my lack of direction. To stay in Tampa or leave? Apply for jobs or to graduate school? All I knew is I wasn’t content.
Studying for the GMAT gave me a clear goal, and helped me structure the months leading up my test. I scored in the 85th percentile, with a perfect essay score (meaningless I later learned).
Some weeks, I had romantic ideas about moving to Chicago, aÂ city I’dÂ newly discovered, to attend Northwestern and become one of the best product marketers in the world. Their programÂ is consistently ranked in the top five globally for a “soft science” MBA vs. a finance and numbers-driven MBA. Marketing, with which I had little experience, seemed exciting because it dealt with products, data, and creative skills like writing.
Almost four years later, I obviously did not make it to the Midwest. GMAT scores expire after five years, so I decided now was an appropriate moment to attempt again, with little to lose. Like everything else in my life, I skipped all the reasonable optionsâ€”schools and programs that would be easier, cheaper, and less drastic to attendâ€”and went straight to SDA Bocconi in Milan.
Ever since I can remember, I have paid meticulous attention to style and fashion arcs, along withÂ the brands and production paths luxuryÂ goods take to get to market. I could tell you what I like to read or what interests me, but the evidence is all here on Remarqed. Posts over the last five years have addressed topics related to luxury retail, shopping malls, global commerce, and the tension between brand image and the products attached to them.
As it turns out, I am often at odds with marketing. It often is at the core of misleading, dishonest business practices that prey on consumers who don’t know any better.
In fact, I am often unsatisfied with the nature and evolution of the luxury business, from an old-world focus on quality and longevity (think HermÃ¨s) to mass market, trends, and profits (think Prada).
I used to see this philosophicalÂ friction as a reason I didn’t belong in business school. Like so many career paths, I’d be an outsider, never fully assimilating.
Over time, I read aÂ choice article or two, and continued to blog. In October, at the opening of Sarasota’s new Saks Fifth Avenue, I knew more about the brands and Saks’ overall market stance than the other press, and I asked questions about how certain brands were chosen for the new store (local demographics or tourists?), which threwÂ the PR manager.
My growing thirstÂ for industry developments like the Design District in Miami changed my mind, and I decided it was the right step to take after all.
MilanÂ is at the center of the global luxury conversation, and Bocconi offers an MBA specific to luxury goods management, in cooperation with Bulgari, the Italian jeweler. Though some American schools can boast a similar syllabus of topics, none offer the lock-step proximity to major players like Kering Group (Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney), and brands like Dolce&Gabbana and Prada.
Excuse me while I geek out, but NOT TO MENTION WHERE IT’S ALL MADE!! Italy is the land of fine fabrics, skilled metalsmiths, and sprezzatura. Global brands, no matter where they are based, produce in Italy, because of its tradition of craftsmanshipÂ and cachet.
I had my interview on Friday, after passing Bocconi’s initial review of my qualifications. It was strangely easy, conversational. No painful questions. I tried to insert as many unique bits about myself, including my Italian heritage and experience organizing pop-up retail events. In hindsight, of course, I forgot to mention my economics-major undergraduate thesis Perspectives on Status Consumption, possibly the first major signal of what I was meant to do in life.
Now, I wait. I realize that writing about it, before knowing the outcome, is risky.
Oh well. Here goes nothing!