LCF Graduates selected for the prestigious Gucci Grade Retail Graduate Program
MA Strategic Fashion Marketing graduate, Esther Chan, and MA Fashion Retail Management graduate, Daxi Zhan, were chosen to be part of the prestigious Gucci Grade Retail Graduate Program. The 2-year Graduate Program gives recent creative graduates the opportunity to build their managerial career in retail, enhance their knowledge and work on new and exciting projects. We caught up with Daxi and Esther to find out more about the Program.
Hi Daxi and Esther, firstly, let me congratulate you both on being offered a place onto the Gucci Grade Retail Graduate Program! Can you tell us about the Gucci Retail Graduate Program and why you decided to apply?
Daxi: It is a 2-year training program which aims to help us develop into retail store managers and team leaders. We will be spending 1 year in the store, and 1 year in different departments within the head office where we will spend time in retail operations, customer service, merchandising and clientele departments. I decided to apply because it sounded like an extremely fun experience where I get a very holistic overview of the behind the scenes work across the different departments as well as travel between major Fashion Cities, as I will be based at the headquarters in Milan, Florence and London
Esther: Gucci Grade is a fast-tracked program for graduates to become team managers through an intensive 24-month training in different business functions – Altogether 7 graders have been selected for the 2021 edition from London, Paris, Milan and Dubai. There is a memorable slogan on the Gucci GRADE promotion site “Reach for the stars in the Gucci Universe”, I feel I share the same values in that I strive to be the best, to be one of a kind, with passion. I am eager to learn, and I am excited to see how far these 24 months will take me.
I really admire Gucci's fearlessness, uniqueness and ambitions to become one of the world’s most desirable and impactful fashion houses that value creativity, curiosity and empowerment.
That's definitely inspiring! What was the application process like?
Esther: The whole process took about 3 months and was very intensive. It consisted of an individual interview with a HR representative from the HQ in Italy followed by a multiple-choice interactive assessment. There was a personality test to see how a candidate would react in different workplace situations. We then had to conduct a Competitor’s analysis and a 60-minute panel interview with the store director, area manager and HR representative, along with the presentation of the competitor analysis. We then had a final interview with the hub general manager and HR director
Daxi: We also had to do a 2-minute video introducing ourselves!
Clearly a tough application process! What have you learned from this experience?
Daxi: To work in retail you need to be likable, develop friendly relationships with your co-workers, to enjoy your work environment and get things done quickly
Esther: The recruitment process is quite different from the other FMCG companies in that there is no aptitude test, but rather focuses on the candidate’s personality and drive - It’s more about accessing one’s potential than previous work experience in the industry. Each stage of the application process is quite tough as there is no reference or cue to what the interview will be like. However, I found that the interview can be prepared ahead by understanding the company’s direction and priorities, the demographic of the business, industry trends and how to link your experience and strengths to the job role.
I’ve learnt how to better manage expectations from different managers, seniors and team mates around me and to be confident but also be humble and to learn from each other.
What projects have you been working on, since joining the program?
Esther: Over the past 6 months I have been learning the role of sales associate and I have been set monthly sales target to achieve. We also created a video, to showcase to the Gucci CEO.
Daxi: I have been working in the store for 5 months now and my major focus has been to understand how each department within the store works and how they contribute to the business.
What advice can you give to students looking to apply to similar programs?
Esther: I would say: Be yourself. The Opportunity is always there for those who are well prepared and curiosity is key as the company encourages constant learning.
Dedicate a lot of time to prepare and practice for the interview. Anticipate all the possible questions and prepare for them.
Daxi: For the interview, practice makes perfect and get as much experience as you can, within the fashion industry, from a part-time job as sales in store, to short-term internships. It helps with getting to know the priorities of the industry and you get to meet people within the industry. By chatting with them, you learn about their roles and their experiences, which also gives you a good understanding about the vibe and environment you will need to fit into.
Really great advice! Finally, what are your next steps?
Daxi: I plan to enjoy and learn for the remainder of the program. As I become a store manager, I will look to develop an enjoyable work environment with my team and improve store performance. Maybe in 5 years, I will try to shift my job into something that has a bigger proportion of desk / analytical work.
I believe the 24 months well-structured program is going to be an exciting life changing adventure filled with rewarding challenges, to prepare me to become a good mentor.
Esther: By the end of Nov 2021 I will have completed my first rotation in London at Selfridges, and from Dec 2021 onward I will be doing my second learning rotation in Italy, at the Headquarters In Milan and Florence!
Daxi and Esther, it has been a pleasure talking to you. We wish you every success with the rest of the program and with your future ambitions!