Landing in Tokyo to Interview the Senior Manager for Gucci Japan Stefania Caligiore
Who are you today?
I’m the Merchandising Planning and Travel Retail Indirect Channels Senior Manager for Gucci Japan. From a planning perspective, I work closely to the finance team, in order to support in the definition of the budgeting and forecasting process, elaborating the sales projection and the open to buy for all departments, combining the worldwide guidelines with the specific needs of the market, for all channels – DOS, Ecommerce, Outlet and Travel Retail.
For Travel Retail instead, on top of planning, I’m in charge of the buying for all categories for all the duty-free stores in the region.
Moreover, I develop and manage all the merchandising reports and business analysis.
How did you get here?
I started my career in La Rinascente, in Milan, as an assistant buyer, after graduating in business and economics at Bocconi University, and deep diving into Fashion with my master’s degree in Fashion Project Management.
After 1 year and half, I moved to Switzerland to pursue a more planning oriented career in Guess Europe. The American companies have a completely different approach to Merchandising Planning, much more detail oriented, and it really made the difference in my learning process and in the next steps of my career.
After two years, I decided to go back to Milan, to work for Gucci, my current company.
I began doing planning for the Mans’ World, to further develop my knowledge in the next couple of years in the specificities of the Japanese and Latin America’s markets.
After three years, my current boss asked me to move in the region, in order to take care of the planning and reporting department. After a couple of months, I saw the opportunity of taking over the Duty Free Business – which was previously managed directly from our partners, and I jumped on it, in order to further develop my competences.
What aspect do you find particularly challenging of the country you live in?
The different approach to work.
Japanese people are the most diligent, dutiful and wholehearted people I’ve ever worked with…But, most of the time, this wouldn’t lead either to flexibility or efficiency.
It’s quite hard to establish some kind of “ground rules”, to make your team more “elastic”.
The fashion world is a super-fast business, and most of the time we need to implement fast actions that cannot be overthought. I believe this is the most challenging aspect of our environment, rigidly stick to the rules. Obviously, this has been changing, thanks to the internalization of the country – 2020 Olympics, for example, is been a great excuse for everyone to try to learn English, but I guess it’s still a learning in progress.
What component you consider essential for your profession?
Elastic and flexible mindset, Leadership and a little Math acumen.
You learn everything on the field, no need too much study on it.
What does ‘success’ mean for you?
Achieving my goals. No matter who you are or where you started, you need to set a bunch of challenging goals to push yourself for the next couple of years.
Me and other two friends, living in three different part of the world – Japan, China and Slovenia – meet all together every 2/3 years, and set those objectives together…and, once in a while, we review them, to see how much we achieved and set the new ones for the next couple of years.
What’s the very best advice you would give to someone pursuing a working path like yours?
As my dad used to say, college is not a pre-wedding parking spot.
If you are willing to succeed, you’ve got to fight hard in order to be recognized. Everyone nowadays is cool, charming, multi graduated and able to speak several languages. You need to have the extra sparkle to make it happen. So, my top 3 suggestion in any career path would be:
- Be humble but determined.
- Take advantage of every new situation, live it as an opportunity, not a challenge.
- Be proactive, not reactive.
For specific insight in the fashion industry, I’d say to “get in the network”.
Study in a recognizable school, create your own connection, and always be aware of what’s going on in the business.
How do you think be influenced can be helpful to other people?
Again, it’s all about network.
You share your story, you read the others’ stories. You get in touch and you may be lucky enough to find someone interested in you or in your story. You connect. That’s what makes the difference today.