By Leila Bianco
For the first RELUX publication of the year 2024, RELUSO has interviewed Sophie Dawkins, a talent acquisition intern at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. LVMH is a renowned multinational conglomerate based in France. As of January 2024 LVMH has a market cap of £329,92 billion. Founded in 1987 through the merger of Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton, LVMH has established itself as a global leader in the luxury goods industry. The company's extensive portfolio includes a diverse range of prestigious brands, the group operating through the following business segments: Wines & Spirits, Fashion & Leather Goods, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewelry, Selective Retailing, and Other Activities.
1. Please first tell us a bit about yourself, what your current role at LVMH is, what tasks it encompasses, and how you are finding working at LVMH so far.
Yes, of course! I'm Sophie, and I'm currently a talent acquisition intern at LVMH P&C - Parfums & Cosmetics. My role is with Dior BPC, our Business Partnership Community, covering HR, IT and finance functions. So, what that means is that I look after all of the intern recruitments for both Dior and then BPC. Still, since September, I've also been looking after the intern recruitment for what we class as 'multibrand', which are all the other brands under LVMH Beauty, including Dior; I'm sure you know the brands?
We do! The Perfumes & Cosmetics division includes brands such as Guerlain, Givenchy Parfums, Stella by Stella McCartney and many more.
Yes! Well, I'm completing my internship here as my placement year; I'm an undergraduate at the University of Loughborough and studying for a BA in Marketing and Management. That's a little bit about me and my role. In terms of what my role involves, It's quite a lot! I manage the intern recruitment process from start to finish. Management involves posting the role, screening CVs, conducting the first-stage interviews, short-listing and then arranging interviews with the hiring managers. I also arrange the interview tasks: if the role involves an Excel test for example, or anything similar, I arrange the task. For our intern recruitment, we have two cohorts of interns, some starting in January and some in July; hence, we have two assessment centres. As part of my role, I organise the process of sorting the venue, getting the hiring managers to the venue, and the intern 'onboarding' process. When the interns start, I do everything that's under the 'onboarding' bracket: draft the contracts, complete the onboarding documents, and introductions on the intern's first day.
Provided to RELUSO by Sophie Dawkins
Occasionally, we have 'ad-hoc' recruits - recruiting employees available to work when needed, often hired at short notice. Alongside the talent acquisition team, we will do their inductions as well. However, we do get individual brands to conduct their inductions within the brand immersions. Once inductions are completed, I'm the intern's main point of contact within HR for any queries, which usually involves redirecting them to the relevant HR member. I also organise all of the intern events. As we have two cohorts of interns, taking about 45 interns per year, we want to create a community for the interns. It's nice getting them to socialise as they're all from different brands, and when you're an intern, you don't quite necessarily see everyone. During inductions, you will meet everyone on the same day and see familiar faces from the assessment centres. Still, you won't necessarily see them very much in the office if you're on different floors. So, we bring all of the interns together by organising events. We do, for example, intern drinks. Recently, we did an intern Christmas lunch, which went very well, as we've had some very nice feedback! When interns leave the workplace, I will also do career talks, 'exit interviews,' and similar activities.
2. One of the major challenges when finding a job or placement in the luxury market for recent graduates alongside current students is the high competition. What would you say makes a candidate stand out?
I'm asked this frequently, yet I always find this very hard to answer. But for LVMH, it's quite difficult to say purely because we have 75 Houses rooted in six different luxury sectors. Even though every hiring manager, every brand and every kind of department will have different things that they look for, what we always say makes a candidate stand out is seeing the INSIDE LVMH certificate on their CV. It is an eight-week course you can do, a deep dive into the luxury industry: we publish it in October and May, and it has 4/6 modules to complete. We like seeing it on CVs, and it makes a candidate stand out because it shows that you have a passion for the luxury industry. A passion that is often hard to show, so this is a good way for you to show it.
3. From your experience working in talent acquisition, what would you say are repeating qualities or experiences you come across that LVMH looks for in candidates?
In terms of experience, it is rare to find the perfect candidate. Still, when I have chats with certain hiring managers, we non-explicitly say an ideal candidate would have luxury experience or beauty experience. That could be anything; working in Boots or Superdrug is something that, for example, shows interest in the industry. So, I think working in retail is always brilliant and what we look for in certain roles. Then, whatever role you apply for, what the hiring manager always likes to see is that you have experience in that area. That isn't to say that when applying for marketing, for example, as a student, you must have worked in a job in marketing. As a student, you won't necessarily have had that experience. What they equally like to see is that, for example, you've done a short course in summer to do with marketing or a two-week summer work experience.
In terms of qualities that are usually hard to pick up from your CV, in interviews, we always look for someone hardworking, a good team player and likes working in a fast-paced environment. At LVMH, the work environment is fast-paced, and you need to be very organised. You will get a lot thrown at you at once, as it comes with the industry working in luxury. Nevertheless, everyone is very supportive!
4. From your experience working within the luxury market, what advice would you give to undergraduates looking to do the same? Perhaps a piece of advice you've received yourself that has worked for you?
In terms of preparing for the interviews when you first apply for a role, the first advice I'd give is to do your research before the interview. Whether that's on competitors, the latest trends, or future trends, do your research! In particular, for one of our marketing roles, we like to see that you understand the market, as it shows you have a passion for it, making you stand out. In the many interviews we conduct, the worst thing for me is when a candidate is asked who the competitors are, and the candidate can't answer. It's nice to see that you have done your research, and it does make you stand out a bit from the high competition.
The main piece of advice that I got on my first day from almost every person in HR when I first started was: "don't be afraid to ask questions when you start". It's the most important thing you can do. Obviously, when you're here for your internship and breaking into luxury, you want to learn as much as possible. When you first start, you're given so much exposure to the industry, and there are so many opportunities from which to learn. So, ask as many questions as possible to learn as much as possible. Don't be afraid of asking questions; don't think that people will think you're annoying! Instead, they really like it when you ask questions because it shows them you are very passionate and want to grow and learn. And it is also beneficial to you! So yes, that is my main advice, and also be yourself!
5. What would you say are the challenges that you faced during your time at LVMH?And lastly, what are the positives?
In terms of challenges, I wouldn't say there are loads. Still, talking to the other interns as well, a challenge everyone, including me, felt when they first started was adjusting to the pace. When you start at LVMH, you are really thrown in. It is not your typical internship where you'll be sent to make tea and coffee; you will be thrown into the work! On your first or second day, you will start in a fast-paced environment, and the pace will hit you quite quickly. We always say that if you've ever worked in retail experience in sales for example, even though it's very fast-paced, the experience is still very different to when you come to work in an office environment. It's difficult for me to describe it, but the pace is just different. Even though the challenge is adjusting to pace, everyone is very supportive, and it doesn't take long to adjust. Perhaps it might take longer for some people, but when everyone is so lovely and supportive, that always helps! One of the other challenges, that I myself have faced, going along with the above, is the workload, which can be quite a lot. When I launch the assessment centre, there will obviously be a heavier workload in those two months, but then it will return to normal. As there are always times of high workload that die down, the challenge would be managing your time and expectations during that time. As you can be given many tasks at once, you need to be organised, and hence, prioritisation might appear as a challenge as well.
In terms of positives, there are many, though! For me, it is honestly the most amazing place to work; I've just loved it so much. Some of the main positives would be the teams you work in and with. In my case, even though my main work is with HR, due to the recruitment side, I do work with other teams, and everyone is so lovely! The teams are so supportive, they very much value their interns. It is very visible that they appreciate all the interns' work. There's a lovely team spirit within each team, making the environment a very nice one to work in! One of the other positives would be the 'family feeling' at LVMH. With two cohorts of interns per year, there is a sort of family feeling as, in a way, everyone is in the same boat. Some of the other positives would be the amount you learn; as I've said before, it's not your typical internship. You'll be exposed to so much, and you'll be learning so much with opportunities to grow and develop. That is because each team the intern is part of also tries to encourage that. They try to give you so much exposure because they want you to learn and develop as much as you possibly can. Regarding my talent acquisition role, one of the positives that I love most and find most rewarding is when making an offer to a person. You've seen that person from the start of the recruitment process to the end, and whilst finally making them that offer, it is very lovely to see how happy the offer makes them.