Updated: Jul 8
12 years, 5 different roles, and 4 countries – that’s a few facts to summarize Florent’s experience in the Group. From Europe to America, his journey has been a crossover between, global and regional roles, between retail and marketing. His 360 view on the business and experiences across cultures has been enriching and rewarding.
My journey started…
Right after graduating from ESCP Europe business school, I joined Montblanc as Assistant Product Manager for the French market, working on writing instruments and leather categories, as well as, supporting the corporate gift business. 12 years later, I still remember the great team spirit I sensed while interviewing, as well as, the incredibly rich heritage and dynamism of the brand. This is what I still experience every day. When interviewing candidates for my team, I always tell them that working for Montblanc is like joining a 114 years old start-up!
Over the 12 years 5 assignments and 4 countries, my career can be described as a cross-over between Retail and Marketing. I had the opportunity to work on key projects from launching the first CRM platform for the Maison in France to leading a global program around developing business with Chinese Travelers called “Red Boutiques”, which eventually became a focus project for the brand and the Group. The combination of both local and global roles gave me the opportunity to understand better the complexity and sophistication related to the multi-channel, multi-category and globalized business that is Montblanc.
After France, Germany and UK, I joined the New York office as Vice President Marketing for USA and Canada, adding digital sales to my responsibilities and competencies. North America is a strategic, big, complex and incredibly exciting market.
On the professional side, I have developed a unique understanding of Montblanc: having been exposed to several roles, markets, teams. The greatest learning of all comes from stepping outside of the comfort zone and being thrown in the deep end when it comes to working and living in foreign countries. The key learning is that there is nothing like experience when it comes to understanding a new culture. Nobody awaits you with open arms, nor hands over a “cultural instruction book”. It all comes down to learning by doing, listening, observing…and doing mistakes. It has been the richest and best part of my journey. I broadened my horizons and perspective: I am much more open-minded now than 12 years ago.
Funny story actually…when starting at Montblanc, I said to HR that I would never move to London or New York. Well, in the end, I lived in both places and I have learned so much about both! The important lesson here is that there is nothing except hands-on experience to learn how to work in a global environment.
My favourite memory…
There have been so many beautiful memories over the years. However, I would choose one from last year when we launched the Bathing Ape x Montblanc collection. “The Forbidden Encounter” between two iconic brands consisted in a capsule leather collection that we celebrated in New York with a concert from Lucky Daye and a live street art performance from the iconic TATS Cru. An incredible evening with a genuine and authentic vibe. The social media buzz and press coverage reached never seen before numbers…and the collection sold out in a few hours. Overall, it was extremely thrilling and exhilarating to see how receptive press and clients were to this disruptive collaboration to the point that Esquire creative director called it “so unexpected, so perfect”. Not your everyday collaboration but very refreshing and full of learnings on how to push the envelope of the brand without losing substance or betraying brand positioning.
I am grateful for…
For working for a sophisticated brand that is constantly on the move with new projects and provides its daily lot of challenges. Mastering the art of being out of the comfort zone and being forced to adapt constantly is an incredible way to stay professionally fit and to remain motivated. I am also grateful for the people from all cultural horizons that I have met along the way and who all contributed to broaden my perspectives.
My daughter was born in the back of a yellow taxi in the middle of Central Park…one might call it born in a “New York minute”!