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UNIQUELY YOU TOGETHER HARRODS

Alejandra Caro: A Passion for Luxury

Alejandra joins our Harrods family from LVMH as Marketing Director. Her career has seen her move from investment banking to the shop floor and into strategic leadership positions in the luxury industry. We took some time to find out more about her background, passions and love for the Harrods brand. 

Hi Alejandra, tell us about your career journey and how you came back to work at Harrods?
I was an investment banker in a previous life; it was a fascinating industry to be working in at the time and learnt a lot about hard work and resilience. However, it got to a stage where I started to question whether that was the career I wanted for life.  

I have always been passionate about luxury and I even thought about studying fashion design! But I soon realised (I have Louise Wilson to thank for that) that my strength lays on the business and not the creative side. I love working with creative people and helping monetise their creativity. I am a problem solver and enjoy balancing short term business priorities with long term brand building. 

My next step was to enrol in an MBA at London Business School. Business schools in the UK do not tend to have luxury management programmes like they do in France or Italy so many students coming from different industries don’t have a real understanding of what luxury means. During my MBA I worked with Walpole on creating what is today the leading Programme in Luxury Management in the UK. That is when I met Michael Ward; we spoke about how I could have an impact in the luxury industry and his advice was to go onto the shop floor to learn, get to know customers, understand the product and the business. I worked at Harrods for free for a few months while I was studying and got to spend time in different departments; working with a range of products and learning from incredible people; some of them are still in the business. I can honestly say this time was the richest period in my education; even more so than the MBA itself.  

From here I was asked to work on a project with the merchandising, buying and retail teams before moving to LVMH to work in the corporate strategy team. I was living in London but working in Paris where I was looking after fashion and leather good brands. My role was to support the brands in developing strategies and plans across all areas. It was really interesting to work with such a diverse group of Maisons and I learnt a lot about luxury and brand building. 

After three years in that role, I became Merchandising Director for Thomas Pink; this was all about planning, collection merchandising and buying as well as working on the brand identity and positioning.

From here, I got the call from Harrods and was so pleased to have a chance to come back.  


Why did you want to work at Harrods? 
From a young age, I was fascinated by luxury. My grandmother had this amazing game box in deep blue Russian leather and wood. Any time I’d touch it I would get a special feeling… I have always admired things that are beautifully made and love the history and heritage behind them. When you understand the care, craft and attention to detail that goes into these extraordinary items, you start to appreciate things for what they truly are – luxury is about so much more than price. What makes it luxury is the intrinsic value of the object, what it represents in terms of workmanship, heritage and time. Also, is that emotional attachment that makes you want to keep repairing and using it what makes an object luxury, no matter what it is.  

If you think about it, in a world where we have a serious problem with poor manufacturing conditions, disposable goods and waste, we should feel particularly proud to work in an industry that represents just the opposite! 

Harrods has always been important to me. It is such a special place; when I cross its doors I feel transported to a different world. In Knightsbridge you can let yourself wander and get lost; the breadth of the offer and service is unparalleled. For someone who loves luxury, there is no place like Harrods. 

Once you start to meet the people who work here, the connection gets deeper. The people are what make Harrods so special. Everybody is so passionate about the brand and about helping customers, regardless of who they are or why they are here. I keep learning from every interaction and it is a privilege to be able to be part of such an amazing Team! 

Tell us a bit more about your role and team 
My role is to look after Harrods Marketing. I work with a team of strategic storytellers whose mission is to engage, guide and delight our global audience by driving desirability and inspiring loyalty. We work with our colleagues in buying, creative, VM, brand partnerships and retail (amongst others) building a dialogue with our audiences across all the different touch-points. 

As a team, we also take seriously the role we play in nurturing the Harrods brand. We are all custodians of what Harrods represents. We only look after it for a period of time (as others did before us and others will do after) and it’s important to remember that. 

We are lucky at Harrods to have so many experts, our teams purpose their knowledge, their passion and products and make sure that our audiences are aware of all this incredible brand has to offer. It isn’t easy to prioritise what to talk about when you have a whole industry in one door! 


What does the Art of The Possible mean to you? 
The Art of the Possible is not a new concept. It’s been part of Harrods for some time. It embodies what we have been talking about. Is that a positive mindset and a can-do attitude, the determination to go the extra mile... It doesn’t matter if you are helping a customer or you’re working on a project. 

When you see the retail teams you can feel it; I remember once coming in as a customer to buy a dress, the person who helped me then took the time to bring me to another area with the dress and left me on to the hands of another colleague to help me with the accessories. He wasn’t gaining anything from doing so but he created a wonderful experience for me. I still go to see him any time I am in the store. 

Which of our employee values resonates the most with you? 
I think all of the values are important and that is why I feel at home here. But if I have to choose, I am drawn to ‘We Take Pride’ - no one is perfect; I know that I am imperfect, but I will always give my best. When you look back on your life you should feel proud of what you have done. It doesn’t matter how big or small that thing is, if you have been dedicated and committed; it's something no-one can take away. For me, values are not about what you are doing, it’s about how you go about doing it.  

What are you looking forward to in 2021? 
Reopening! It’s been very strange coming into the business with the Store closed. I am very excited to see customers coming in and for us to be able to share all the amazing things that have been happening behind the scenes. There has been so much change in the business across all of our sites. Reopening is going to be a very special time. 

On a personal level, I am really looking forward to spending more time with my family, being able to hug my parents and let my children live their lives. I want to enjoy the simple luxuries in life that we may have taken for granted in the past. 


What is your favourite Harrods memory? 

Something that has always stuck with me was seeing a director walking through the store and lean down to pick up some rubbish. She was just passing by but took the time to make a little difference, she told me that she lived by “you see it, you own it”. For me, this was such a good example of what Harrods is all about. 


What is your Uniquely You? 
I’ve been working with the English National Ballet for the last nine years. I love Opera and Ballet and ENB’s mission to make world-class ballet accessible to everyone in the UK at an affordable price is a very worthwhile cause. And I once did a walk-on role at the Nutcracker! It was the most exciting day of my life! 

 

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