As Global Head of Business at The Luxury Network, Helena Warren is no stranger to working with the best luxury brands in the world, and connecting huge companies with the relevant brands to develop unique and exciting partnerships. The Luxury Network is a private membership club, established across the globe, within which premium companies work closely together to achieve mutual business goals. The Sybarite sat down with Helena to discuss her career and what’s coming up for The Luxury Network.
How did you come to work at The Luxury Network?
I was working with HSBC and I managed all the golf sponsorships in Dubai. I had noticed that there were a lot of connections, especially in the Middle East, between luxury brands, sponsorships and financial companies. And so, I wanted to get into a line of work that reflected this back in the UK.
The Luxury Network is something that appeals to different luxury brands across all sectors. It’s a membership club, connecting senior decision makers of different companies with the view of working together. It’s really an extension of their marketing team; we cover finance, property, hospitality, luxury goods and luxury services. As their agency, we will look at their marketing plan and see how we can complement it from a partnership perspective.
We do B2B events every quarter, but also large B2C events. For example, we created an event with McLaren in their showroom last year where a few luxury brands came together and brought their own clients. We do a lot of work with financial companies as well. In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we are looking into producing a series of events for a wealth manager in London, who wants to target a female audience. Statistically, a lot of women want to invest but feel that they don’t know how to or where to. We’re looking to change that and expand our clients’ customer reach.
Why do you think the luxury sector is gearing more towards experiences than things?
Certainly within travel, there’s a shift from people wanting to spend money on material things to now wanting to spend money on experiences instead. People want to engage with their families and friends and create memories as opposed to just collecting things.
We are now a global company and have 28 offices. Last year we opened in Lagos, Nigeria and this year we are opening in Croatia, Montenegro and the Indian Ocean. Luxury brands increasingly want to reach new demographics in these places, which sparks compelling a conversation about different global luxury markets and the experiences to be had within these.
Along with opening in Croatia or Montenegro, what’s next for The Luxury Network?
We’ve got a huge awards ceremony that we’re holding in Dubai at Caesars Palace this month with 400 delegates. We are looking to have the best of the best in luxury there, picking out the most deserving luxury brands from each category. In April, we are holding a luxury summit in Istanbul for the first time. It’s being sponsored by Turkish Airlines and will attract delegates from all over the world. But, as London is arguably the luxury capital of the world, it is important for us to keep our HQ in the UK.
What motivated you to go into the luxury industry?
From my perspective, it’s an interesting world. Luxury means different things to different people which I find very intriguing. Rather than connoting materialism and being a determinant of status, luxury cultural is now shifting towards looking at how people spend their time. A new concept in the luxury industry is – “health over wealth”. It is a fascinating space at the moment because it is being injected with these new values. I love working in the industry and having come from a financial background and being a professional lawyer, I can bring a new angle to the industry and seek fresh opportunities for clients.
We’re coming up to International Women’s Day. Are there any career obstacles you have had to overcome simply because you’re a woman?
I went to an all-girls school in London, so I was very used to being in an only-female environment. I then went on to study at Cambridge – so my academic life was very much geared towards women being given equal opportunities.
There are certainly perceptions of women in the workplace that you must be mindful of. It was difficult to come back to London and set up as an entrepreneur – there remain hierarchical structures in certain institutions that maintain the ‘old boys’ network mentality. However, being an entrepreneur means that you can make up your own rules and, at the end of the day, whether you are male or female, you can still do business. It is important to recognise the desire and need for women to connect with each other and feel empowered.
What advice would you give to other professionals who are looking to advance in the luxury industry?
I think having a mentor is valuable. There is no point wasting time when there was someone who came before you that you can learn from. Partnerships and finding like-minded people that you feel comfortable to work with is also crucial.
More than anything, you must pick an industry that you love. You don’t have to know exactly what you are going to be doing in 10 years’ time. The world of work is constantly in flux – how or even where we work changes all the time. Gone are the days of having a long drawn-out career in the same company for 30 years. The newer and preferred style of hybrid career is really exciting and people have so much more choice now. If you are in an industry that you love, that is enough.
Are there any specific events in the luxury calendar that you look forward to every year?
It’s great and always very inspiring when we all come together at The Luxury Network International Awards. That’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, and it’s a good opportunity to meet international managing directors too. In my role as Global Business Head I travel a bit, but it’s nice to have everyone in one place so that we can celebrate together and share ideas going forward into the next year. It’s really a celebration of all our members and their successes!