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- 8 Mar 2010

Employees Take Centre Stage

Jagdip Jagpal, managing director of Anareva, a London-based executive search firm with a thriving luxury division, explains how professional online communities are shaping the recruitment business and why she knows that luxury e-commerce has come of age.

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In the past twelve months, we’ve seen a leap in the demand for searches of senior managers and directors for e-commerce in the luxury sector. This suggests that the industry has finally embraced the digital revolution’s impact on customer purchasing habits.

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The digital revolution has given employees far more visibility than they would otherwise have – and an opportunity to showcase their organisations, services and products. It has increased accessibility for individuals at all levels within an organisation. LinkedIn, in particular, has in the past two years become a valuable resource as a directory but not so much for the luxury sector.

I am an avid reader of Luxury Society, logging in first thing in the morning to catch up on the industry headlines. I also find it useful as a source of contacts and a networking tool not just for headhunting but also in relation to our other interests – performing and visual arts, heritage and sport. I recently used it to source potential corporate sponsors for the Wallace Collection; to bring together contacts at Cutler & Gross and the Almeida Theatre; and to organise meetings at Baselworld.

My first job in the luxury industry was in the late 80s while I was studying at the London School of Economics. I did some research to rank which companies were the best payers, which had the best employee facilities and which gave staff discounts. I chose to work at Harvey Nichols and then Harrods as a Saturday girl. A year later I bought my first designer outfit from Romeo Gigli. The experience of working on the shop floor made me a fussy customer and taught me a lot of respect for people working in retail.

I began my career as an intellectual property solicitor, and senior manager in radio, television and communications. Then I started working for recruitment firms and finally set up my own company Anareva with like-minded colleagues. We work for consumer facing organisations in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors. It reflects our own diverse range of interests. Luxury is part of what we do and it’s my favourite part as we work on UK and global assignments for private businesses as well as major luxury groups.

In terms of recruitment, professional online communities provide many positive benefits for in-house recruiters and HR teams – particularly at the middle to senior manager level. But where headhunting for senior managers and board level roles is concerned, we don’t see online communities such as Luxury Society as a threat as the senior individuals within the industry have always been visible. My only concern would be that recruiters might see it as a definitive directory rather than use all their other research and networking tools to seek out the right candidates for senior jobs from both inside and outside the sector.

The key to social media and the luxury industry in the future will be much the same as it is today – about maintaining quality, editorial relevance and security.

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Jagdip Jagpal, Managing Director, Anareva