Katie Sousa

Graduation Year: 2014

Employment Organization/Title
: The Luxury Institute, Sr. Consultant, Client Relationships &  Project Leader
LinkedIn Profile

Why did you choose the NC State GLAM program for your graduate education?
 Throughout my entire life, I have always been in love with luxury Рthe experience, the products, the lifestyle. In my undergraduate studies, I conducted every project using a luxury brand specifically. As the 2nd class of GLAM, I felt I was creating a pathway for students without the contacts yet who had the skill and desire to enter the luxury market, even in an aspirational sense.

How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?
The program provided me with a foundation of the luxury consumer and the luxury market, yet more than anything it provided me with the ability to travel and have real, tangible experiences in a global sense. To understand luxury, and the luxury consumer specifically, you have to understand their emotional ties to the world – to experiences, to things, etc. Today, I am the lead senior consultant for all international clients in Italy, South Korea, France, Switzerland, Australia, etc. Because of my travel experience and my experience with luxury consumers and the market, my clients value my expertise, professionalism, and local understanding.

What did you enjoy most about your time in the GLAM program?
I enjoyed traveling and having the opportunity to meet my future employer.

What do you miss most now that you have graduated?
Traveling for pleasure, rather than business.

What advice would you give for prospective and current students who are interested in your industry/profession?
Do your research on the luxury brands that fascinate you. Understand that working in luxury is not a luxury experience. You don’t need to have a clear vision of the exact brand you want to work for, or even how you want to make an impact (because for most, if you go into a large brand, you won’t have an impact for quite some time), but know yourself – know your skills, your personality, etc. and always work on improving yourself. Your social abilities to speak in front of groups, to articulate your knowledge, and your personality are what will get you to the next level. The MSc label, the GLAM label, etc. will help, but it will not get you the position. You have to do that!

Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work, and what has led you to it?
Today, I have been with The Luxury Institute since September 2014 (I graduated December 2014). I have been promoted 3 times within the company, from analyst to consultant and now to senior consultant. Throughout my career at The Luxury Institute I have worked with some of the most prestigious and well-known luxury brands across the globe, including Gucci, where I had the opportunity to work with the global CEO, CCO, CMO, 7 Brand Presidents, and the top 300 people in executive and flagship store levels across the globe. In my day-to-day, I work exclusively with luxury and premium goods and services brands on all types of consulting projects, including strategy development, brand development, consumer research, market research, marketing and sales plans, business development, CRM, and high performance training of front-line sales teams. I have had the opportunity to travel across the globe to places such as Australia, South Korea, Florence, Paris, etc., and key brands I serve today include Samsung, Hyundai Genesis, Saint Laurent, Tomas Maier, Baume et Mercier, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury (formerly Previews), etc.

What do you believe is your most interesting accomplishment since graduation?
My most interesting accomplishment was the opportunity to speak in front of and lead a group of the top 75 executives at Gucci in a workshop 6-months into my role at The Luxury Institute. I was asked to run a workshop and lead the group, and was immediately given the opportunity to do more and more projects independently as a result. I believe very much that because of my focus on being myself in every interaction – being kind and generous with my time, going above and beyond, maintaining professionalism at all times, sharing my expertise, and having an intense attention to details – I was able to earn the respect of the room and my team.

What are your goals and plans for the future?
As a younger individual, I always wanted to work for a luxury brand. I wanted to be in the trenches and live, eat and breathe the brand. With the knowledge and expertise I have today, I could never see myself ever working for one brand only. My favorite part about my role today is that every day, every week, every month, and every year has been entirely different – new challenges, new clients, new knowledge. I cannot imagine every working in a different way. Because of my experience in the last four years, the single most important goal that I focus on is my constant focus on being better. Not better than anyone else, but better than myself – better than I was yesterday. Not only for my clients, but for my family, for my friends, and most importantly for myself. If you constantly have the goal of becoming a better you – regardless of where you are or what you are doing – success (however you define it) will come your way.