Industry Interviews

Rebecca Duncan LVMH client relationship manager

December 08, 2014

One glimpse at Rebecca Duncan’s CV and you’ll appreciate why her Instagram is now a glamorous collection of parties and events, as her position at Moët Hennessy seeks no boundaries in presenting luxury. As a client relationship manager, Rebecca uses her understanding of the premium champagne and wine industry to manage a private client base from the creative industries. With over 15 years experience in her career journey, Rebecca has worked on major Australian events such as Australian Fashion Week and uses her early memories of working in luxury boutiques to solidify the tools needed to engage and motivate her team and clients. Read below about Rebecca’s influential friends, her opinions on the maturing wine industry within Australia and her weakness for fabulous shoes and handbags. 

What is your job title?

Client Relationship Manager, Moët Hennessy Australia. 

How long have you been in your current position?

Four years in my current role with a background of over 15 years experience.

What was your initial intended career path?

An early idea had been photo-journalism, however it was through some of my first jobs working in fashion boutiques where I discovered that sales and customer relations came naturally to me. The style of customer facing roles helped lead me towards my future career path.

Early on in your career, did anybody particularly inspire or influence you?

There have been many people, but one in particular is my close friend Kate Vale, managing director at Spotify Australia & NZ, and prior to that at Google. In my eyes, Kate has been a trailblazer of a businesswoman and very inspiring. Having good friends like her and others, who have strong business skills and have been there to support and act as a sounding board, has given me the confidence to go after roles and take risks. Watching my friends follow their dreams and pushing themselves to reach their goals has encouraged me to push myself further.

Rebecca Duncan LVMH

You began your career with many multinational companies including American Express, JP Morgan and IMG. How has that experience assisted you in your current position?

These companies have all been absolutely pivotal in my career development. Early in my career companies like American Express provided critical training that formed the foundation of my business skills. Amex, for example had strong structures, resources and internal support systems and they understood the value of developing people in their roles and providing growth opportunities. In my opinion, a huge benefit of working for a global organisation is that you can access self development opportunities that may not be available in smaller operations due to budget. The results from investing in your employees provide long term benefits for all.

How do you measure success?

It depends on what area we are talking about. But, as a general statement, ensuring that I am a hands on and present mother to my young daughter, while still managing to grow and challenge myself in my career and having multiple facets to my life is very important and it keeps life interesting.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

My daughter Lulu of course, my relationship with my partner James and having an amazing group of friends who are basically my second family, my key to surviving life’s twists and turns. Professionally speaking, joining an organisation like LVMH has been a definite career highlight, being a part of a global group that is a world leader in luxury products which are synonymous with both elegance and creativity and which blend tradition with innovation. This inspires me daily to keep striving towards my own creative and career goals.

Having worked across many areas of luxury, what do you see is the future of the luxury industry in Australia? 

In the premium champagne and wine industry, Australia is definitely a growth market with increased demand year on year for luxury champagne, wine and spirit products. In my opinion, it would seem that Australians have matured in our understanding and appreciation of luxury goods. There is a desire to seek out artisan style products that represent the best of the best. I think it’s that pursuit of creative excellence that people are increasingly looking for and the understanding that there are certain brands that deliver on those fronts.

What is the best part of your role with Moët Hennessy?

It’s an exciting and diverse national role which enables me to work across a range of commercial areas and platforms, engage with multiple divisions of our business and work across our entire luxury champagne, wine and spirit portfolio. In managing our private client base I connect and build relationships with a wide array of people and industries; from the art world, to finance, private banking, fashion, architecture, PR & creative agencies and our HNW clientele. Working with such iconic global brands is a real honour, many of these brands have been in existence for hundreds of years and they all have very individual and unique histories and brand DNA, which is always inspiring.

As client relationship manager for Moët Hennessy, what are the most important qualities you need to thrive in your role?

The ability to able to read situations quickly, being autonomous, self-driven and entrepreneurial in my business approach and dealing with ambiguity. Stamina and being able to put on your game face no matter what is critical, especially when attending events and entertaining clients. Being there as a representative of our luxury brands means you need to ensure to the best of your ability that the high standards and expectations of our brands are always adhered to.

Do you think sustainability has a role to play in the luxury industry?

Yes, absolutely. Luxury items are not quick turn around products. They are often investment pieces built to last, savour and cherish. An example being our Dom Perignon Plenitude P2 champagne which is cellared for a minimum of 12 years before it even has its first release. Sustainability is needed to support these types of processes, which have been taking place for hundreds of years. LVMH also supports a range of initiatives, programs and global charters to achieve goals in this area globally.

What skills and attributes do you look for when hiring new people?

Depends on the role and situation, but when I worked for IMG, one of our events was Australian Fashion Week which required us to scale up staff and bring on teams pre-event. When I assembled my team, I always looked for people that had the core skills, but who were also confident, engaged, well presented, and had good manners! People who were prepared to do whatever it took to get the job done. You need to have a team that is prepared to get in the trenches and help find solutions to problems, not create them. Being able to cope in stressful, fast moving and high profile environments is not for everyone and keeping a cool head is not always easy, but is very important.

Rebecca Duncan LVMH

What advice do you have for people seeking work in this industry?

When starting out, don’t be afraid to reach out to people who you know and trust and seek guidance and advice. Often our social networks are all closely connected and a simple introduction to someone in an industry you are interested in can lead to an early opportunity. But from there, always be prepared to work hard, be tenacious and get comfortable with being out of your comfort zone! To this day I still find myself regularly out of my comfort zone, but that is also the place where we push ourselves to keep learning.

What does style mean to you?

Style is such an individual thing, but being your own person and being comfortable in that, is often the key element to what makes that person stylish. Confidence, grace and attention to detail make all the difference to me. Follow what works for you not the trends. To quote the always fabulous Lauren Hutton- “fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”

How would you describe your personal style?

Classic, but with a twist. My habit has always been to combine things with a mix of vintage, high street and luxury. My weakness is definitely fabulous shoes and handbags. My favourites are Isabel Marant, Dior, Louboutin, YSL, Chloe, Giuesppe Zanotti and Louis Vuitton. I love statement jewellery by EK Thongprasert to Australian jewellery designer Chelsea De Luca. I also adore the work of Australian milliner Ann Shoebridge. I have also been lucky in that some of my close girlfriends are amazingly talented Australian fashion designers and in wanting to support them, many of their designs have filled my wardrobes over the years.

If you had to begin your career again, what would you do differently?

Probably to have focused in and got serious a bit earlier, reining in the endless carefree fun and globetrotting chapter of my early twenties! But that said, I also feel it’s many of those “school of life” experiences I enjoyed around the world that gave me the broad experience both socially and work wise, which helped me achieve success in my future roles.

What is next? Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now and what will you be doing?

I hope to be in a position where I can make a difference to my industry and the younger generation coming up through it. Personally, it would be to see my daughter happy and achieving in her life and for all my family and friends to enjoy health, happiness and lots of good times ahead.

You can follow Rebecca Duncan on Instagram at @rebecca_duncan_sydney 

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