How I became a project manager at Dior in Paris

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Zenan He was an adult when she first left China. Born in the capital, Beijing, Zenan’s first international experience was an exchange semester in South Korea during her undergraduate degree.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from one of China’s top law universities, Zenan decided to pursue a career in business. She felt that a master’s degree would give her the platform to succeed.

Despite her limited international experience, Zenan was eager to seize the opportunity to study abroad. She enrolled in the Master in Management (MiM) at ESCP Business School, a leading French institution with six campuses spread across Europe.

The two-year degree gave Zenan a wealth of international experience and helped her develop her business acumen. Today, she has launched a high-flying career in Paris with the great luxury fashion house Christian Dior.


From Beijing to business school

Zenan has always been passionate about beauty and fashion: “I have a thing for the beauty industry,” she says, “that’s basically why I did an exchange in South Korea because I like the Korean idea and concept of beauty”.

As an undergraduate student at China University of Political Science and Law, she didn’t think she could pursue her passion as a career. However, Zenan discovered his preference for business over law during his joint bachelor’s degree. An avid writer, she particularly enjoyed marketing, where she could develop her writing skills.

“I felt I was starting to like what I was learning there, and that’s why I decided to pursue a career in business,” she says.

To enrich his experience, Zenan completed internships in public relations firms, working with clients such as manufacturer Ingersoll Rand and Italian tire company Pirelli.

After earning her bachelor’s degree, she felt that studying a master’s degree at an established business school would give her the best chance of successfully landing a role in a large corporation.


LILY: Master in Management: United States vs. Europe

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Studying a Masters in France

Wanting to experience a culture outside of mainland China, Zenan looked abroad for study destinations and chose Europe, where business schools are generally cheaper than in the United States.

After researching the best programs and talking about the connections she made during her internships, she decided that France was the best place to take the next step in her career.

“I knew French business schools were super famous among all the European schools, they really stood out among all the countries there,” she says.

Embarking on a new trip to a foreign country, Zenan was keen to enroll in a two-year program. This would mean that she could immerse herself in the local culture and also provide the opportunity to gain internship experience while studying.

Coming from a city of over 20 million people, Zenan also wanted a similar experience. At ESCP, a leading school with campuses in Paris, Madrid and London, to name a few, she was convinced she would have the opportunity to broaden her horizons.


A Master in Management: Preparation for Dior

Regions of the world generally have different business approaches. While studying for a Masters in Management, Zenan enjoyed learning about business from a French perspective.

“It was really different from what I learned in China. The lessons were very practical – sometimes the teachers came directly from the companies or a full-time teacher invited friends who worked in certain companies to give talks,” she explains.

The Masters in Management are general business degrees, teaching fundamentals ranging from finance to organizational strategy. The extensive ESCP MiM program provided Zenan with an understanding of the various key aspects of business that she would need to know in her career.

“It helped me bridge the gap between student life and corporate work,” she says.


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Get a top job at Dior

With the opportunity to undertake internships available during the program, Zenan gained two experiences in the beauty industry that will lay the foundation for her career.

Within the Parisian company L’Oréal, she spent six months as a social media and customer relations assistant, before a second internship within the business analytics and operational marketing team.

Although essential to the advancement of her career, these experiences were stimulating: “all the other interns were French-speaking, so I was the only one who was not fluent in French,” she says.

This made it difficult to build relationships with fellow interns and adapt to a new work environment. Looking back, she feels the experience forced her to adapt and deal with adversity.

“I really enjoyed what I did at L’Oréal. I liked the team, the manager – I think I learned a lot in terms of technical skills and soft skills.”

The internships proved essential in preparing Zenan for his work at Dior. With the help of ESCP’s careers team and various MiM alumni, she secured the position shortly after graduation. Although she is not fluent in French, her experiences have also taught her how to navigate a work environment where people speak multiple languages.

Zenan now works as a data and reporting project manager in Paris, responsible for Dior’s digital marketing projects, the management of internal systems and the company’s digital innovation dynamic.

She spends her days exploring creative digital solutions ranging from NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) to Metaverse filters and even Instagram. This is in addition to coordinating a team of programmers and consultants to build and deliver projects.

“Especially in the digital innovation element, there are new topics for everyone, so I’m still learning,” she says. “I really love what I do and I love Dior, so I plan to stay here for several years.”

Working in a big beauty company, Zenan managed to land a role where she can channel her passion. It’s a far cry from the career she envisioned while attending law school.

“I feel more confident if I wear good makeup or dress in fashionable clothes. By working in this industry, I have the ability to try to bring that happiness and energy to more of people.


Next reading:

What can you do with a Master in Management?

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