Georgetown Students Participate in Marketing Challenge with Iconic French Luxury Brand Cartier

Graphic for the Global Business Initiative Cartier Challenge

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Last Fall, 20 Georgetown University students embarked on a unique, one-of-a-kind challenge with the iconic French luxury brand Cartier. The Cartier Challenge allowed students to dive into the luxury world, quickly understand the market, the competitive challenges and opportunities, and then provide marketing and branding ideas to best address the needs of Cartier’s customers. 

The six-week challenge was a collaboration between the Georgetown Retail & Luxury Association, School of Continuing Studies, and the McDonough School of Business Global Business Initiative and Undergraduate Program Office.

“At its best, education can serve as a place where the energy, ideas, and creativity of its students meets real world aspirations and challenges of global brands,” said Wendy Zajack, faculty director and assistant professor of the practice at the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies. “This collaboration was the perfect example of the power and value of these types of exchanges when both sides commit to the process.”  

Students remarked on how valuable the experience was to their educational experience which included having access to the top executives of a classic brand and being presented with a real marketing problem to solve. 

“Thank you so much for providing us with this amazing opportunity. Being with such a passionate team and faculty really helped us propel on the Cartier Challenge,” said Jules Lee (B’22), special projects manager for the Georgetown Retail & Luxury Association. 

“I’m proud to be a member of this community. I was so impressed by all of the teams who put out such strategic and thoughtful presentations,” said Kendall Seighan (MBA’23).

This was the first time Cartier partnered with a U.S. school. Similar experiences have occurred previously with universities in Europe.

“As a school that aims to provide valuable opportunities in international business, we were excited to participate in a challenge with such a global brand,” said Ricardo Ernst, Baratta Chair in Global Business and director of the Global Business Initiative. 

Over 70 Georgetown students applied to participate in the challenge, out of which 20 were selected based on their resume, past experience, and application responses. Students represented a wide variety of academic programs, including undergraduate and graduate students from the business school, Georgetown College, and the School of Continuing Studies. 

Selected students were assigned into four teams with different backgrounds, age groups, and work experiences under the guidance of Georgetown faculty members Rebecca Hamilton, Ani Matson, Charles Skuba, and Wendy Zajack. After six weeks of remote work, the student teams presented their final recommendations to Cartier executives, who connected via Zoom from Paris, New York, and Geneva.

“We are most grateful to Cartier. This wonderful assignment pushed our students to transcend their education in the art and science of premium goods marketing and immerse themselves in the luxury world. Our team was put to the test of understanding the savoir faire and exceptional art of the Maison along with the demanding and discerning requirements of the assignment,” said Professor of the Practice Charles Skuba. 

A few days after the presentation, Cartier announced the winning team of students, which included Kendall Deighan (MBA’23), Yara Dernaika (C’23), Alex Frieder (B’22), Jules Lee (B’22), and Elizabeth Zonarich (SCS’22). 

Despite the challenges of international engagement throughout the pandemic, programs like the Cartier Challenge have allowed Georgetown students to engage with partners in other regions. 

“The remote nature of this program has enabled our students to gain hands-on experience with such an iconic company,” said Ernst. “We hope to be able to build on this partnership with Cartier and provide more opportunities for our students to engage with executives in other geographies.”