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Interview: International Fashion Management CMI Award winners


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Published date
04 August 2015

Three MSc International Fashion Management students were recently awarded the prestigious Chartered Management Institute (CMI) London and South East Regional Boards Award. Michelle Paulini, Maria Dvorkin and Yasmine Richardson received gold, silver and bronze prizes respectively for dissertations that demonstrated significant levels of innovative, strategic or sustainable management or leadership.

As the first LCF Fashion Business School students to achieve such an honour LCF News spoke to each of them to find out about what the award means to them and their future plans.


Yasmine, Maria and Michelle with BA (Hons) Fashion Management CMI winners and Ann Bell of the CMI

LCF News: What does winning the CMI award mean to you?

MP: It is such a great honour to be awarded such a prestigious prize for my final course project, and I must admit I am truly humbled.

MD: Winning the CMI award really puts into perspective everything we have achieved. To be awarded a Distinction is one thing, but for your achievements to be recognised by an external source such as the CMI is really prestigious and makes all the stress and hard work worth it. It really reinforces the strength of our degree and makes me really proud of everything I’ve achieved throughout university.

YR: Achieving this award means a great deal due to the fact that my dissertation was based around innovation and strategic management theory. Gaining this award has shown that I demonstrated a significant level of research and theory throughout. The award has also given me one year’s complimentary membership to the Chartered Management Institute, which is extremely valuable due to the numerous online resources they make available.

LCF News: Tell us about your dissertation

MP: I investigated whether earth-mined diamonds could be replaced by synthetically produced diamonds within the luxury jewellery sector. Rationally speaking, synthetic diamonds can be produced at a higher quality, a cheaper price within a sustainable and ethical setting. However my research indicated that consumers confused the word synthetic with ‘fake’ which led to an overall preference towards natural diamonds, although chemically, synthetic and natural diamonds are composed exactly the same. Inevitably this called for the need to re-educate the luxury consumer if a luxury jewellery brand were interested to implement synthetic diamonds.

MD: My dissertation explored collaborative innovation as a corporate strategy for competitive advantage within the luxury fashion industry. It understands how this strategy can be implemented to create transient competitive advantage within a rapidly changing environment with increasingly demanding customers. Innovation is imperative yet quite scarce within luxury, the findings highlighted the importance of innovation through collaborative activities in the luxury fashion industry without devaluing the brand or reducing its exclusivity.

YR:  It focused on the increasing growth of wearable technology and the newly emerging fashion technology sector. It aimed to help fill the gap in literature by focusing on innovation theory specifically related towards wearable technology. The dissertation also examined recent relationships between fashion and technology companies that have resulted in the creation of an entirely new market: ‘Fashion Technology’.

LCF News: What are your future plans? 

MP: I have gained a place on the Zara Go graduate scheme and am moving to the headquarters in A Coruna, Spain. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to learn from the people who created fashion’s greatest business success story.

MD: Pursue a successful career within the fashion industry! I hope to eventually end up in a corporate level role within a fashion company that influences the strategy and direction of innovation. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying and focusing my studies more and more over the previous 4 years, so I wouldn’t rule out further study or research roles in the future.

YR: I am currently applying to business graduate schemes. Due to the rotational aspect of many schemes I hope that this will help guide me towards what I would potentially be good at or like to do in the future. I also hope that my fashion management skills will be valuable as the wearables sector expands.

LCF News: How will your course help you achieve these plans?

MD: My course has equipped me with the knowledge, confidence and determination to pursue my career and progress in the future. It’s made me more culturally aware, commercially aware and confident to communicate with anyone at any level. It has made me realise I am capable of more than I realise when it comes to business, and I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. I will take everything I have learned into the world of work!

YR: My course has given me a background into many different business and finance aspects which will be extremely valuable both on a graduate scheme and when I move in to the wearable technology market.

LCF News: Can you give a tip to future Fashion Business students?

MP: Find purpose in everything you do and the rest will come to you 🙂

MD: For your dissertation, find an area of business that you’re really passionate about and follow it. If you don’t love what you’re reading and researching, the process will be so much more difficult. Find something that you really want to invest all your time and effort into, and you’ll be so proud of the outcome.

YR: The key success factor of my dissertation was genuine interest and enthusiasm towards the topic. I attended multiple talks and events that helped me gain further insight into the growing market of wearables and made it much easier to network and meet industry experts that helped me with my primary research. It is so important that continuous research and reading about the topic you choose isn’t tedious and that you look forward to working on your dissertation each day otherwise you won’t have the motivation.