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SchoolHotel Institute Montreux
ProgramBachelor of Business Administration
What was your internship position in the company and what were your responsibilities?
In my position as a Fashion and Accessories (F&A) intern, my responsibilities were mostly supporting the digital and eCommerce side of the division. I was responsible for helping build a community among the nine Maisons. This project required bringing in the human touch ‘digitally’, where we interviewed our colleagues and sent them out to our teams. This gave everyone a chance to get to know their colleagues in different Maisons. My other main responsibility was organizing the division's quarterly benchmark report on the respective performances of the Maison teams. I helped the director of Omnichannel gather information from the Maisons. This report was then shared with the senior leadership team (CEO level), as well as the Maison teams (eCommerce, client, media).
The internship was an eye-opening experience. I never imagined that I’d be working in the digital side of a business, as I had no prior experience. With the guidance of my manager, however, I learned a lot about the digital world, and how to evaluate a brand’s performance. My tasks were limited in the beginning, but along the way I got more involved in projects and in supporting various tasks. This internship challenged me in the best way possible and I can confidently say that it aided in my personal and professional growth.
Why did you want to do your internship at Richemont?
I have always wanted to work in the fashion industry. When Philippe Fortunato, CEO of the F&A Division at Richemont, visited our university as a guest lecturer, I went to the class with no expectations. But after the lecture, I wanted to go meet him and learn from his expertise in the customer journey, so I went to speak to him. Later, I sent him an email and applied for the internship. For me, Richemont was the opening to set foot in the fashion world. It allowed me to pursue my career in a preferred field of work and helped me build connections from within.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
My biggest challenge was living in Montreux and commuting to Geneva for work every day. It was a challenge that I had to adapt to quickly. The company is in Bellevue, Geneva, which is around 90 minutes away from Montreux. I looked for apartments in Geneva, but unfortunately I was not able to find any that were suitable. I eventually accepted the fact that I would have to commute. It was not easy, but I got used to it as time passed. I had to work on a lot of things to make my day fit properly and get enough sleep so I could be focused on work the next day. I started my internship later than planned, which was a setback concerning my school term. It was hard to see all of my classmates back on campus while I was still going away to my internship. Although it was hard and challenging, I would not change anything, because all of this helped contribute to my growth.
What skills did you learn from the experience?
One of the most important skills I developed was how to build my network. We always hear about building our network here at HIM, especially since our student body is very international. At HIM, it was a bit easier to build our network as we are all friends, so it came naturally. At work, I had to develop that skill. I worked on it by connecting with other teams that we worked with, and reaching out to counterparts and scheduling lunches with them. A key skill I learned through the process was cross-management. I learned how to work with nine different teams to be able to deliver the results needed for top management. It was important to stick to due dates for everything to be organized and for the process to flow.
Had HIM helped to prepare you in any way for the position? (transferable skills)
Yes, of course! Moving to Switzerland to attend HIM was the first time I had to completely depend on myself and HIM helped me find my way. The mentors at HIM guide us, but they also teach us that we are responsible for the decisions we make. Not only this, but they also always proactively help wherever they can. If it weren’t for that, I would not have had the confidence to approach the Richemont CEO or to pursue this internship. I referred many times to what I’d learned in my Term 5 class on Digital Marketing. Mr. Casanova taught us a lot about the customer funnel and owned vs. shared media. I did not know it then, but it helped me greatly in my preparation for the internship.
Hala Ali is a student at HIM Montreux pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management. She was an intern in Fashion and Accessories at Richemont, a Swiss-based luxury goods company in Geneva.