Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Journeying into the realm of luxury retail at DFS
With city and airport stores in over 30 destinations globally, luxury travel retailer DFS Group offered the perfect environment for Jacqueline Crawford, a business management graduate from the University of Buckingham in the UK, to gain insight into what makes a retail giant tick.
Benjamin Vuchot, region president, Asia north at DFS Group, said he wanted to give Crawford a first-hand look into the many operational choices that go into building a successful retail offering. “It takes strong collaboration across all business units and much dedication to the customer experience to deliver on our promise day in and day out,” he explained.
During her three days at DFS, Crawford participated in a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis and learned how to hone her presentation skills in front of senior leaders.
In addition to shadowing Vuchot, she also spent time with the assistant general manager of the beauty hall at T Galleria by DFS on Canton Road. Her task was to observe the team in action in order to make recommendations in a presentation to DFS team leaders on her final day.
“I think the entire experience was extremely valuable to Jacky as it not only pulled back the curtain on luxury retail operations, but also enabled her to picture herself in a corporate work setting and see what’s needed to succeed – something not all students experience while still in school,” Vuchot said.
“We treated her in much the same way we would treat a participant in our graduate development programme, which offers recent university graduates an opportunity to learn all aspects of the luxury travel retail business and challenges them to be curious, embrace change and work collaboratively to find success.”
Crawford’s passion for the luxury industry was clear from the beginning, Vuchot said, adding that he and his team were impressed with the focus she brought to the SWOT exercise. “Her final presentation provided a clear, concise analysis of our beauty hall at T Galleria by DFS, Canton Road, and it was refreshing for the store’s leadership to see our operations in a new light.”
For Crawford, the highlight of the experience was meeting and speaking with so many interesting and passionate people. “Hearing stories and advice from people succeeding in the very job positions I aspire to was incredibly valuable.”
She added that seeing Vuchot lead by example gave her good insight into being a senior manager. “Benjamin takes the time to ensure that everyone he works with feels acknowledged for their efforts, and the result is a positive employee culture, be that in the office or on the shop floor.”
Crawford now feels more ready to enter the world of work after graduating next summer. “This experience taught me so much about the level of diligence and resilience that it takes to succeed, and it has been a powerful lesson in the importance of having a long-term vision for your career,” she said.
Vuchot finished by saying that learning how one might fit within an organisation is extremely important and the Shadow a CEO Programme gives students the opportunity to do just that.
“Getting the opportunity to not only observe our business, but also actively participate in its continuous improvement, gave Jacky a realistic experience of what it would actually be like to work at DFS.”
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Journeying into the realm of luxury retail at DFS.