Asian Luxury Market Boom Entices Top MBAs

The dual MBA degree from CUHK and HEC Paris was a strategic choice for US-born Susanna Tang

Susanna Tang wants a career in marketing global luxury brands, and her ticket to this is the dual MBA degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and HEC Paris.

Susanna, 28, can’t express her love of fashion too much. Her dream job would be as a global brand manager for Stella McCartney in Asia Pacific. “Stella McCartney because she always creates a very feminine look using sustainable material and constantly reinvents the meaning of luxury while keeping the company sustainable”, says Susanna.

When I caught up with Susanna, London Fashion Week was in full swing and news about Stella McCartney’s party was all over the media. When I mentioned how well Miss McCartney had been received after being away from London’s catwalks for 16 years, Susanna exclaimed, “If Asia has a fashion week, I would so be there!”

Susanna is a US citizen and was born in New York City but her family moved to a suburb of New Jersey when she was a toddler. She went to college at Boston University where she studied Business Administration, Marketing and Finance and went straight into a career in buying.

Her first role was as a buyer for Linen N’ Things in 2005. She was there for a little over a year before moving to department store Saks Fifth Avenue where she was a Senior Associate Buyer. Her focus at Saks was Mens' footwear and Evening couture. Working in menswear had its perks, and Susanna describes it as a "fun and light environment".

In 2008, Susanna left Saks to work as Brand Merchandiser for Wal-Mart’s private label Faded Glory. “Talking with brands, managing the vendors and seeing the products before they’re released to the consumer” were the most exciting aspects of working in buying and merchandising. However, Susanna says she wanted to build the necessary skills and understanding required for developing and managing luxury brands.

HEC Paris and CUHK, are two business schools that recognize that companies operating in the luxury industry have unique needs. Susanna observes that “Luxury houses are mostly French or Italian and HEC Paris has great experience of knowing how to meet the branding and strategy needs of the best brands while CUHK is a great stepping stone for anyone who wants a career in Asia”.

“The most awesome thing about being in Paris was that you lived in a place where it was immediately obvious how the city in itself influences fashion...there is so much art around you, you can’t help but be inspired”, says Susanna.

She added, “being in Hong Kong means you can experience the energy of the city which is amazing. At CUHK, there’s a huge emphasis on China and how to do business in China which is something you don’t commonly get. You're also surrounded by so much diversity that you can never really guess someone’s background until you speak to them”.

Luxury as a market is huge with a global turnover estimated at about $200 billion annually and, “Finding ways to connect with consumers, and their motivations while building the brand’s place in the global market would be incredible”, says Susanna.

Susanna finishes classes in March but is planning to remain in Hong Kong to continue exploring opportunities in Hong Kong, mainland China and around Asia. Her top brands to work for are Stella McCartney, Celine, for its minimalism and sophistication and Jimmy Choo because, Susanna says, “What woman isn’t into their fabulous designs?”! 


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