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Juan Pablo


Global Retail Director

LinkedIn Profile:

Please introduce yourself:

My name is Juan Pablo and I am a senior leader in the luxury industry. Originally from a city in the southern region of Spain, I consider myself a citizen of the world as I have had the opportunity to be living in cities like New York, Madrid or now London.

I have over 15 years’ experience in the luxury industry having worked for leading businesses in the industry such as Harrods, Galería Canalejas or Balenciaga.

I have successfully contributed to the luxury retail industry transformation in recent years through service excellence motivating and inspiring others to perform at their highest potential.

What is your morning routine?

I like to start my day by having sufficient time in the morning at home for myself, to plan the day and run through everything I have to achieve that day.

Contrary to what some could think, I am not a member of the “coffee club”. My morning fuel is always a glass of orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed, and a Greek yogurt bowl with fresh berries, nuts and honey. This is crucial as it allows me also time to read the news to stay relevant and aware.

Then I am ready to start my day!

How did you become involved with the luxury industry?

From a young age, I was fascinated about the interaction between High Net Worth Individuals and their ways of interconnecting across countries for business purposes. Hence why I initially trained in the Spanish Foreign Office.

It was whilst finishing my MA in International Business and Diplomacy in London that I started working at a premium French fashion brand in their concession in Harrods. Soon after, my passion for the industry began to flourish. I understood If I wanted to make a successful career in the luxury industry, Harrods would be the perfect company to start my development. Therefore, I moved to work for them directly and my Harrods journey took off.

My time in Harrods was an essential time to learn about luxury excellence from industry experts. Their training program opportunities were like no other. I had the chance to be part of the Harrods Graduate Program where I started my development within the Women’s Luxury Fashion division. It was an incredible experience and truly an honour to be part of the team where I developed my skills set from true industry leaders.

After a short 3 years period of continuous personal growth, professional development and several promotions, I became the fastest promoted General Sales Manager in the business receiving also a scholarship to attend the Oxford Summer School Management programme.

I completed my Harrods journey leading the Fine Watches and Fine Jewellery division. The biggest turnover division in the store leading a team that includes Business Managers, Retail Managers, Sales Managers, Operation Managers, Marketing and Communication Managers and Private Client Managers.

What has your career journey been so far?

My career journey so far in the luxury industry has been very rewarding, super exciting, full of learnings and with many proud achievements.

After a very successful career progression in Harrods I was offered the opportunity to become the Managing Director for Galería Canalejas and lead from scratch the development of a new luxury department store in Madrid down town, a project connected with the first Four Seasons hotel in Spain.

I created the business strategy to deliver World class Retail Excellence to provide a unique luxury experience becoming the new international icon of luxury shopping and gastronomy in the heart of Madrid. The overall experience comprises the world’s most prestigious brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermès, Cartier, Rolex, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Zegna, Omega, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Aquazurra, etc. together with a Beauty Gallery and a Food hall with more than 13 restaurants of varying specialities and nationalities, including several Michelin stars. A unique offering of exclusives services will allow you enjoy a memorable experience when you visit the store.

I like to challenge myself seeking opportunities for growth and development. But let me tell you, if Harrods was my school, Galería Canalejas became my MBA in strategy, business development, operations and retail excellence.

In my desire of wanting to learn more about the industry, I took on a role as Retail Director for Balenciaga overseeing North Europe with a total of 8 markets which was a brilliant opportunity and helped me understand the luxury industry from a brand perspective.

I am currently an advisor to Tessabit, a luxury retail business in Lake Como, Italy. Supporting their business, I act as project lead and owner of key retail initiatives with brand partners that have impact in different areas, promoting efficient collaboration between the parties. Working with Tessabit as a strategic advisor has allowed me to apply all the learnings I have gained from my previous positions. I look forward to equally applying these learnings to new opportunities in the future.

What strengths have you built up on your journey?

I would probably say strategic leadership, adaptability and effective collaboration.

I am a proactive individual, able to adapt and be flexible and responsive to changing circumstances, with a high level of organization and analytical capabilities. I have a passion for developing and implementing retail standards.

I am a result-driven leader with strong operational and project management skills, and with experience in running complex operations and leading retail transformation. I am an effective collaborator with the ability to build relationships at all levels.

In general, with a holistic approach to leadership motivating and inspiring others to perform at their highest potential.

What is a typical day/week for you working in the industry?

When you work in the industry your weeks become very dynamic and diverse. There is never a typical day! You can be analysing business, working with the retail teams, developing client relations, planning a new opening or working with cross-functional teams. There is always a different hat to wear and that’s what makes it even more exciting for me!

Despite how different the days can be, I always make sure I get time to exercise, whether it is a gym session or a run in the park before I head back home to enjoy quality time, and a nicely homecooked meal with my partner. I have to confess cooking is another of my passions!

What’s the best part of working in the industry?

No matter how busy or challenging a day could be, it gives me great satisfaction to end the work day and see everything that I have been able to achieve or deliver throughout the day. But probably the best part of the job is contributing to create long-lasting emotional connections between clients and the brands resulting in long-term loyalty.

What’s the worst part of working in the industry?

In order to be successful, I believe any industry requires to keep yourself always updated with business trends. But the luxury industry demands continuous innovation in order anticipate and be able to respond to new trends like quiet luxury. From product tendencies, to social issues like diversity & inclusivity or sustainability, but the most important, how client’s preferences evolve with time, especially considering the impact in the industry from a new and more diverse typology of new clients with the generation Z and Alpha. However, I always see these as an opportunity for development and growth, a platform to continuously be delivering new excellence standards in line with the evolution of society.

What is / are your most memorable work moment?

I have been privileged enough to have various memorable moments in my career in the luxury industry so far. A key moment that marked a before and after in my career was when I became General Manager for the Fine Watches & Fine Jewelry Division in Harrods. Not only was I given the opportunity to work in a new industry becoming a specialist in a new product category, but also it gave me the opportunity to develop a new skill set working with a category that had always been a passion of mine like luxury watches. I also managed at the time the Fine Watches room expansion project as part of the Redefining Luxury strategy for Harrods.

Another especial moment was during my time as Managing Director at Galería Canalejas. I had the opportunity to join forces with Louis Vuitton for an exceptional celebration, bringing to the Iberian Peninsula for the first time the legendary savoir-faire of Louis Vuitton where the Maison’s clients had the opportunity to discover an incredible universe of Objets Nomades, special orders, exotic leather bags, jewelry, and watches with a demonstration of Louis Vuitton’s unparalleled savoir-faire.

But probably one of the most memorable moments for me, was when I was asked to join IE Business School as a lecturer in their Master in Luxury Business Management. I curated 2 courses supporting those transitioning into the luxury industry covering topics such as Luxury Retail Excellence, Luxury Values, Experiential Luxury & Tourism, and the Next Generation Type of Relationship Between Brand and Clients. Tutoring is a unique opportunity and an experience that taught me humility and helped me to develop further my coaching approach.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in the same profession?

Take yourself out of your comfort zone! Move abroad, learn a new language, make new friends, travel to discover new cultures, change jobs… is always the best way to consistently learn new skills.

Of course, you all should be aware of the challenges you may face but try to identify what makes you happy and pursue your dreams. If you challenge yourself to constantly become the best version of yourself, with self-determination and integrity there is nothing you won’t be able to do. See your career as a journey not a destination. Enjoy the ride!

Photographic credit @danielschaeferstudio

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A few words about the article author

Dwayne Ferguson is Head of Digital at Outside The Box Recruitment.

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