Tessa Vacher-Desvernais
Tessa Vacher-Desvernais
Home Region

Paris, France

Undergrad Education

ESSEC Business School , Master in Science of Management, 2012

Previous Experience

AngelsCube Venture Capital; Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH); Burberry; Richemont; L’Oreal Group

“I knew how to build brands, but I didn’t know how to build high performance organizations.”

Tessa Vacher-Desvernais describes herself as a blend. Since early on she has borne two stories. She was raised in France by a British mother and a French father having studied law in the United States. As for her own personality, Tessa says, “I’m a mix of left brain and right brain. I’m good at analytics, but truly appreciate aesthetics. I’m very conscious of my inner tension between analytical and creative thinking.” Following her mathematical and sciences baccalaureate, she pursued liberal arts at an all-girl military boarding school, devoting herself to her natural gravitation to music, literature, languages and creative arts.

When she completed her master’s degree at the ESSEC Graduate Business School, she began her career with another hybrid: luxury brands eager to embrace modernity. She was selected for a competitive mentoring program at ESSEC, introducing her to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.

“I was passionate about compelling and aspirational stories,” says Tessa. Fascinated by their galvanizing power, she wanted to build brands. The customer journey and emotional experience encouraged her to start a career in this space. “I knew I wanted to reach out globally by making people feel uniquely connected with a brand. Changes in consumer shopping patterns made me want to build brands of the future. Digital was an invaluable echo chamber to the craftsmanship of heritage products. Technology provided the means to expand storytelling through creative interactive features and to reach customers globally very quickly.”

Acquiring an education for the long-term

After successful stints at luxury companies such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton, Tessa wanted to push her skills beyond branding. “I knew how to build brands, but I didn’t know how to build high performance organizations,” she says. An MBA from HBS would give her the opportunity to establish enduring general management skills. “I seek exposure to people from many different industries to inspire me with different perspectives and different best practices. I applied only to HBS. When I considered the two-year opportunity cost, I wanted to get the best possible MBA training.”

The case study method, Tessa believes, “is different from the theoretical memory-based teaching in Europe. Here, it’s not just about the substance of your ideas. HBS emphasizes how you express ideas orally, the importance of how you deliver a compelling message. This links directly to the corporate world, where you need to persuade others every day.”

“The curriculum is thought out in a creative way,” Tessa adds. “It is diverse and non-linear: cases, visiting protagonists, organized lunches, FIELD, campus visitors, strategy simulations. The variety helps the learning stick with you and creates a lifelike sensation of being in the protagonist’s shoes.”

In the short run, Tessa wants to apply the pragmatic approaches she learns to “build beautiful brands and participate in redefining the consumer retail arena with a focus on lean operations.” Her long-term ambitions remain a work in progress. “I’m interested in investing in B2C, maybe a growth fund in the consumer space. I can use the years just out of school to grow my investor mindset or to define new B2C business models either within existing brands or as an entrepreneur.”