Ana Laura Aguiar is a Fashion & Luxury MBA Candidate, specializing in Luxury Marketing, Strategy and Management. Ana Laura holds a BA in Fashion Design from the Istituto Europeo di Design Rome and has over eight years of experience in the fashion industry.
Learning to Network
Networking really seems to be the golden rule for a successful MBA program. However, “networking”, or “cold calling” can feel overwhelming for some of us, and I, personally, was wary of how to even start reaching out to people. Last year, alumni were advising us to have at least one coffee chat every two weeks, and during orientation we were already working on our elevator pitches. It all seemed extremely complicated, but here comes one of the most amazing things about the Fashion & Luxury program —they bring the industry to you!
From our very first day at Stern, we were immediately introduced to powerhouses in the fashion and beauty industries. I remember how exhausted I was coming home after a cocktail hour where we met the NYU Fashion & Luxury Council —these people were SO interesting, you went out of your way to speak to and learn about as many people as you possibly could. Immediately after that, when classes started, we continued to be introduced to panelists, speakers and lecturers working in our dream brands or holding our dream positions. From luxury to fashion, from marketing to buying, we were exposed to different paths, opinions, and points of view.
The mentorship through the council is a unique advantage of Stern. We were each assigned a mentor, and they were each assigned one mentee, which meant they were willing to give us all the attention we needed and to really go that extra mile to connect us with their own precious networks. My peers and I have been getting all kinds of advice from our mentors, from what career path to choose to what companies they recommend we apply to post-graduation. Getting this close and having these casual conversations with VPs, C-suite or multi-hyphenate fashion experts is an experience I had not personally ever had before.
One day, I was late to my afternoon class. I am honestly never late, but because of an allergy problem, I came in rushing to my last Accounting class of the semester. I walked into Stern and made my way to room 1-70. In front of me was my Accounting professor and another Italian man. Professor Bonacchi heard my shoes clacking on the floor and looked back, he stopped, and said “This is Ana Laura, she is Brazilian but speaks perfect Italian! She is a strong candidate for you!” That’s when I realized I was being personally introduced to the CFO of the second biggest luxury brand in the world, who happened to be the guest speaker that day. This may be a silly example, but I want to illustrate that these opportunities really come to you at Stern, and not only in conventional ways. I reached out to him, and have since spoken to his HR representative in North America.
Now, I don’t mean to say it isn’t hard work or that everything is handed to you on a silver platter, but in terms of industry exposure, this program really does make meeting and networking with industry professionals as easy as it can be. Through panels and company visits, projects where you directly work with amazing brands, professors and other Stern employees, and even through your own cohort and their extensive network, the industry is at your fingertips when you’re a Fashion & Luxury MBA student at Stern.