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Developing a (Second) Career in the Global Luxury Industry

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The case

whoWho – the protagonist

At the time of writing the case, Megha Malagatti was International Director of Marketing for French luxury goods company, S.T. Dupont.

Megha has since joined the L’Oréal Group as their development director.


Megha was a rising star, having been appointed to S.T. Dupont’s executive committee just six years after joining the company as area and marketing manager.


whatMegha’s journey was an inspiring one.

Giving up her career as a technical engineer in India after a failed marriage, Megha reconsidered her goals. Interested by the business side of the fashion industry – she recalled a childhood aspiration of being a fashion designer – Megha viewed this as a natural progression since she had a strong foundation in management from previous jobs.

Spotting an advert for an MBA in International Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in Paris, Megha was offered a partial scholarship and moved to France.

After a year of hard graft, which involved internships, a carefully crafted business plan for the luxury car market, and working part-time at the school to pay for food, Megha was one of the first in her cohort to be offered a job at a luxury firm in Paris.


Megha was 29 when she arrived at ESSEC and joined the MBA programme. By her mid-30s she was on S.T. Dupont’s executive committee.


S.T. Dupont are based in Paris, with its handmade goods produced in the foothills of the French Alps.

Key quote

“I tried to fit into the normal life of an engineer for almost six years. However, something inside me was saying that I was not in the place where I was meant to be. I was meant to be somewhere doing what I really loved to do. I was dissatisfied and hungry.” – Megha Malagatti.

What next?

Megha discovered a message on her phone – a prospective employer had seen her CV and wanted to interview her.

Megha felt she had accomplished all that she could at S.T. Dupont, and liked the idea of moving to a mid-sized luxury brand or managing a sizeable business unit of a global luxury brand.

Should Megha look outside S.T. Dupont for a new career opportunity?

The Protagonist

Megha Malagatti

Megha talks about case studies allowing different thinking, the benefits of having a mentor and developing female leadership.

Rethinking with cases

Megha said: “I believe a case study always gives examples and enables one to not only rethink but rethink differently. I was and am always very happy to work with INSEAD and the school opens many doors to other MBA schools around the world by publishing educational case studies.”

Power of a mentor

She added: “A mentor’s job is to help guide you in the right direction based on your strengths and areas of improvement. I have been very lucky to have such mentors in my life who have always given me the best advice.”

Female leadership

Megha concluded: “Women are very good at multitasking, with emotional empathy, and have many more strengths.

“There are of course areas of improvement.

“Firstly, women need to support other women. The biggest enemy of a woman in a workplace is another woman. Hence, every woman must learn to uplift confidence and empower each other.

“Secondly, being factual and unemotional about business matters helps a lot to find solutions in a non-conflicting way.

“Thirdly, women need to learn the art of an iron fist with a velvet glove – meaning, firm in communication while being gentle to others. Because, if a woman is as assertive as a man, it can be tagged as an aggressive behaviour. Hence, we need to learn and define our own style of management.”

The authors


Frédéric Godart, Brian Henry, Antoine Tirard and Claire Harbour-Lyell

The quartet discuss how the case with Megha came about, her inspiring story and the importance of gender diversity in the workplace.

Opening doors

Opening doorsClaire said: “Megha Malagatti came to our attention in 2016, when INSEAD Research Fellow Brian Henry, along with two INSEAD professors, wrote a business case about S.T. Dupont, a luxury firm founded in Paris in 1872. While this case was focused mainly on the CEO, Alain Crevet, who had been trying to re-brand the firm, Megha graciously opened the doors for research and interviews and in so doing revealed her career path as a senior executive with the firm. About a year later, Brian suggested to INSEAD Professor Frédéric Godart that they write a case solely about Megha and her unique journey.”

Career dynamics

Brian commented: “We were motivated by Megha’s professional career path. Frédéric wanted to identify particularly challenging career transitions, study these stories, and draw lessons and frameworks from them.

“In addition, Frédéric wanted to collaborate with disruptive career experts Claire Harbour-Lyell and Antoine Tirard, whose expansion on the 'talent’ angle was critical to the learning outcome of the case. Claire and Antoine aspire to get students to understand and develop career dynamics, and to pursue the right career choices. Moreover, both have worked in the luxury sector, notorious for its high barriers to entry. They have analysed and written about success stories full of struggle and persistence many times in the past, but Megha’s journey was something they truly relished exploring.

“For her part, Megha was supportive of the initiative and made the writing experience a pleasant one. The authors are thankful for her commitment.

“For Frédéric, he was able to add a new case to his growing portfolio of cases that are used in core MBA classes in Organizational Behaviour and in elective courses geared towards fashion and luxury.”

Relating to Megha

Frédéric said: “During class discussions of the case, in core MBA classes and electives, students strongly relate to Megha’s journey. Even though it looks like a fairy tale from the outside, nothing could be farther from the truth as students soon discover! It is about the dogged pursuit of a dream, and despite the odds stacked against her, Megha manages to get to where she wants to be. She creates a new career for herself, having crossed continents, sectors, social classes, cultures, and organisations.

“The case is even more meaningful to those who feel that they are ‘like Megha’, whether that is someone from India, or someone from a less privileged socio-economic background. In brief, the case has universal appeal.”

Importance of diversityImportance of diversity

Frédéric concluded: “It is crucial to showcase gender diversity in the workplace, and students strongly relate to this aspect of the case. In addition, the case promotes an understanding of individuals regardless of their ethnic, racial, religious, and socio-economic background.

“INSEAD is firmly committed to diversity in the workplace on many levels, as diversity is the right ethical behaviour to aspire to.

“Furthermore, diversity in the workplace enables organisations to gain different perspectives on business challenges. Students know this, but they need to be encouraged and inspired by it. Our experience is that they can relate to Megha’s inclusive message, and for this reason, we are proud to have been able to write this case about her and for all those who see inspiration in her journey.”

About the authors

Frédéric Godart is Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD.
e frederic.godart@insead.edu
tw @frederic_godart

Brian Henry is a Research Fellow at INSEAD.
e brian.henry@insead.edu

Antoine Tirard is an international talent management advisor.
e antoine.tirard@alumni.insead.edu
tw @antirard1

Claire Harbour-Lyell is a global coach for those who want to disrupt their career, and consults on all matters related to people, talent and culture.
e claire.harbour@insead.edu


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Developing a (Second) Career in the Global Luxury Industry
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