The Luxury Lecture Series commenced with a special appearance by Jean Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot. Fresh from his nomination for the nomination for the prestigious Walpole Awards he had flown from Switzerland especially to be at Regent’s College.

He needed no preparation for the lecture having distinguished himself throughout a glittering 35 year career in the watch industry. Jean Claude Biver was born in Luxembourg but was drawn to the Joux Valley, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking, after university. 

His career began at Audemars Piguet and continued at Omega before buying Blancpain in 1980 with his friend, Jacques Piguet. After selling it to the Swatch Group in 1992, he remained as managing director for a further decade. After a well-deserved rest from the business in the mid 2000s he met Carl Crocco,  Hublot's revered creator, and was offered the job of modernising Hublot so that they could compete with the best of the historic Swiss names. 

The focus of his lecture was not his impressive achievements but on what he can give to the audience in that very moment. The audience witnessed a speech given from the heart.  The following are Jean Claude Biver’s seven lessons on how to succeed in the luxury world… or in life.

  • Love and Passion: Love is what makes our world – the only thing that is real is love, and if there is no love in your heart you are indeed poor. Love is to be followed by passion, and it is that passion for your job that gives the impression you aren't actually working and makes every day short. If you don't have this passion, your day will be very long.
  • Curiosity: If you love what you do, then your life is going to be a song, a very pleasant and beautiful song. In order to find what you love doing, you need to ask yourself this question and then wait for the answer. Know that every time you ask a question, the answer is going to be there. All you need to do is open your ears, open your eyes, open your heart. This also means you need to become curious about yourself, and your life, and become curious to what turns your every day life into celebration and follow that. This is where your passion, your success and your joy is.
  • Sharing: Sharing makes you rich; those who don't share are very poor in heart and spirit. Sharing is the first commandment of the religion of planet Earth. Human beings share from the beginning – their mother's womb, their mother's milk and later the family food. You cannot survive from day one without sharing. Don’t expect for any business to be successful, or for anything to be successful, if you don’t share. Sharing is what will bring you more success but make sure you share without expecting any return.
  • Dying without Dying: The only thing we should find more fearful than dying is never to have truly lived. We all will die and join billions and billions of people who died before us, but imagine entering death not having died. You can only achieve this if you leave something behind, if you leave a legacy behind – a trace of love. Then you never really die, and you have an entire lifetime to make sure of this.
  • Being Unique or First: Always try to be the first or/and try to be unique or/and try to be different. This concept obliges us to constantly innovate, to be creative, to constantly explore new roads and to constantly connect to the future. During economic hard times, I believe that the only exit is named ‘creativity and innovation’.
  • Constant Innovation: We are directly with the consumer, in the market. We also communicate to direct consumer. We are with our network, visit our stores, the retailers, the jewellers. More interestingly when we are in direct contact with direct consumer, that’s when we are open to new ideas, creativity and innovation. We chat on blogs, on Facebook, internet forums, where all the collectors are chatting. I spend 2 hours per day chatting with these people. I don’t know who they are but I appear there as myself. I am who I am. I am transparent. They know who I am. I am in permanent touch with my consumers. 
  • Teamwork: Be open to people. Ask for help, and be open to receive help, because without help, there is no success. Even athletes cannot succeed by themselves. You must share with your people, respect your people, and forgive the mistakes of your people. You encourage them to be active, and to make mistakes. Every mistake you learn. Mistake is a very important step that brings you to success.

Mr Biver talks about concepts that are not ‘traditionally businesslike” and do not focus on concepts such as strategy, value generation and innovation. When you listen to his speech, your realize that all those business concepts cannot exist and mean nothing if there is no love, sharing, passion and respect for people you work with. Perhaps, it is time for us to stop and think of going back to basic principles that created our world – love, passion and sharing.

Neri Karra, Programme Director MA Luxury Brand Managment