Svetlana Uspenskaya

Personal growth, personal coaching, trainings and customer loyalty


Svetlana Uspenskaya – Dior’s training manager in Russia

(INSTAGRAM: @svetlanauspenskaya)

AR: Svetlana, tell us, what did you do before you started working with Dior?

Svetlana: I have been working for Dior for 10 years already. Before Dior I have also had been working in German group of companies Henkel at the Schwarzkopf department for about 10 years. I have started with a small position of retail-manager and ended in trade-marketing. It was a great carreer growth and a valuable experience. German thoroughness always makes any business greately structured. When I came to Dior I felt a huge difference. I realized that luxury Fashion and Beauty spheres work in a different way. Particular attention is paid to the product itself and to the customer loyalty. When I received Dior’s offer I spent surprisingly long time thinking. 10 years ago in Russia Dior was not as appreciated as nowadays, for me it was just the same as all other high-end brands. But nevertheless, new opportunities and new experience attracted my attention. At that moment, in 2008, LVMH fully entered Russia, big structure changes took place, French colleagues entirely started doing business and as a result Dior separated from the group, taking its own niche. That was a complete restructuring, so it was incredibly fascinating for me to enter new team at the very start.

AR: What professional skills and personal qualities helped you become who you are today?

Svetlana: I think there are several components. On the one hand, it is a career growth and all the professional skills I obtained on my path, on the other hand, it is, of course, some personal qualities, personal growth. People are not born as strong personalities with a deep self-consciousness, understanding of other people, understanding of  people perception’s peculiarities and communication skills. Indeed, all of it is steadily obtained. Even today I exercise a lot, learn a lot, attend master-classes and develop my personality. I am sharing this knowledge with other people, that is how experience and knowledge exchange works. Gradually developing as a person, you can learn a lot professionally as well. Therefore in our business professional and personal qualities are inseparable.

AR: Please, lift the veil of secrecy: what instruments of client attraction and retention apply Dior team use nowadays?

Svetlana: First of all, it is working on loyalty. The customer should not only remember the product one bought, but also remember the service, the attention one received from the consultant. That is why we always say that a lipstick can be bought at any store. But not in every store the consultant can present the lipstick in a right way, explain its advantages, show how to apply it and how to mix it with other products. If mention attracting new customers than it is mostly the brand itself that helps us. It has been acknowledged long ago that Dior has the largest pool of celebrity friends, the most significant and famous ones. Charlize Theron, Natalie Cole, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson and many others – these are the celebrites, any girl or man take as a role model. Everybody wants to cope idols magnificent look, go to the store and try the product oneselves and get a bit closer to the celebrity world.

AR: Consistent learning and skills perfection – do you agree these are the key to the high professionalism and business efficiency?

Svetlana: Human is inherently curious and eager to learn something new. This is a clear and strong engine, that gives us additional energy. It can be something inborn or maybe something acquired, when at some moment you realize that consistent research works for good. What is dangerous about constant education? It is that filling yourself with something, but not finding it an application, you can burn out easily. Among all the informational flow it is important to take only the things that can actually be useful for you, for your business, for your team. Constant circle of getting and passing the information gives you new strength every time. In Dior, we give people huge amount of information, but also strongly encourage self-education. There numerous resources nowadays – books, online and offline schools where we can choose the direction and develop ourselves. We strongly support this kind of people and provide them with opportunity of career growth.

AR: Is it important for a successful seller or consultant to know the basics of psychology?

Svetlana: Definitely! And not only for a consultant. Many of the personal master-classes provided by me or some invited speakers are aimed at developing so called soft skills. We help people understand that in any service that is connected to sales both communication skills and personal resources are important. The client must feel his importance and feel comfortable. While a sell must only work with sincere commitment.

AR: Is your day planned up to a minute or can you let some chaos in your life?

Svetlana: I really love time-management, actively apply it in my life and promote it in my trainings, because for managers and all those directly connected to business, time-management is essential. I form my working schedule in absolutely the same way, I know in advance what plans I have for the next day, all the tasks are listed. Being a person with a well-structured approach and thinking, I simply cross them out, some tasks I transfer for the next day and almost never reflect about it. I just realize it was not relevant for me today and could be transferred to the later time. But I always have several activity blocks during the day. I have been using the method of full commitment to work and refilling with energy for quite a long time already. During the day I always have a pool for my personal goals and tasks as sport, some education, family issues, kids; working pool and evening program: it can be exhibitions, plays, friends meetings or some quiet family time. The day is always structured, filled out and planned.

AR: Please, tell us a little about Dior conferences? What do you consider while choosing speakers?

Svetlana: Large-scale conferences take place once a year. We gather all the Russian Dior team whi is about 300 people. Every year we establish the topic of the conference, its agenda. And after the topic and the name of the conference is settled, we start selecting the speakers, that in our view could elaborate on this topic most thoroughly. We make our choice considering from different perspectives: we use external resources – those are some advanced people: businessmen, journalists, market development experts, luxury development experts; we also invite Dior’s friends – some media people – fashion magazines’ editors, influencers. The choice is made, of course, according to whether the person is successful, what secrets he can share from the dtage. Also we arrange performances of our employees that has reached some heights and showed great achievements. During the conferences often the clients themselves can give us some feedback, share the experience of working with consultants and makeup artists. This is a sort of energy exchange between customers, media personalities and the brand.

AR: How relevant are various master-classes or personal coaches today?

Svetlana: In my opinion, they are especially relevant at this moment. I have a personal coach with whom I work and discuss all the issues that bother me. In Dior we have been using the coaching method for a long time – this is a method of personal pro-active development based on people’s own resources. I use this method as well, because I do not consider myself to be a super professional and I understand that I need to improve constantly. I am also a member of the “Atlantes” business-club. This is a place of power and development for established and self-conscious entrepreneurs and top-managers that communicate to each other sharing their experience and skills and generate new ideas together. It is very important for me now to be in constant search for ideas, always be one step, two steps, five steps ahead the time, ahead current events. I am trying not to repeat myself and create something new all the time.

AR: It is quite difficult to find a decent business reading among all the range of books about leadership, retail and management. Could you, please, suggest us the books that we could really learn something useful from?

Svetlana: It is important to understand that the path of personal and professional growth is quite long and consistent. It is impossible to prepare a compulsory list of books or some courses, that suited you personally, as something absolutely different could be suitable for others. Speaking of my experience, at some moment I realized that I was fascinated by emotional intelligence, it was 7-8 years ago. I figured out then, that emotional intelligence cannot be underestimated, especially concerning luxury sphere, where the skill of communication with clients is essential. I have read numerous books on this topic and I have seen clearly my personal barriers and shortcomings, so I would eventually be able to pass this knowledge to others. Then there were some business books important for management, people communication, proper performing in front of an audience. Career will show you what should be improved, what should be upgraded. Speaking of general development, one should not forget about classic and historical literature, as it enriches mentality, cultural background. Unfortunately, everyone in Russia can speak Russian, but not all of us can speak proper Russian. And when it comes to communicating to Dior’s end customers, Russian language should be rich and pleasant. It is crucial to be able to make proper sentences, describe the product correctly and in a pleasant manner. In order to achieve that it is necessary to read a lot, to have a wide background. It is also very important that all the information we get is useful for us. For example, yesterday I went to Nina Zvereva’s master-class, she is one of the top leader coaches on public performance. I know for sure that I need to develop my performing skills, so I choose a certain master-class, certain coach and move within a narrow corridor, I do not consume everything around. I can name my personal top-list on business books that could possibly be useful for your readers:

  • Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller “A complaint is a gift: using customer feedback as a strategic tool”
  • Daniel Goleman “Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ”
  • Bodo Schaefer “The winner laws”
  • John Kehoe “Mind power”
  • Guzel Yakhina “Zuleikha opens her eyes”
  • Jim Loehr “The power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal”

AR: Who of your global colleagues you would like to meet?

Svetlana: Three years ago I was very interested in Tony Robbins, I was fascinated by his success story and by how he manage to gather such a huge audience. I went to London seeking for answers and attended his 3-days seminar. But I was disappointed, I was not so impressed by such a large-scale approach. Yes, it is spectacular. But I could not immerse myself into it, apparently, because I am more about more personalized, face-to-face contact. So I forgot about attending these stadium performances and now I only use coaching sessions with people I can trust, I go to some small master-classes, where all the audience is on the same wavelength. Besides, not so long ago, a guru from India visited us and told about meditation method. You would think, meditation and well-structured businessmen, eager for results, must be so far away from each other. However, Indian guru told us that meditation practices can provide us with energy, let us free our mind so that fresh ideas would come up. That became a new life hack for me, that gave me huge pleasure.  

AR: So, you started to meditate?

Svetlana: No, I already do jogging and boxing in order to get some energy boost. But I have added some Qigong in my life, which is a dynamic eastern practice that combines mental and physical activities. I have been practicing it for several years already.

AR: How do you spend your leisure time?

Svetlana: As for me, art is also a way of relaxation and inspiration. If I am very tired I go to exhibitions. Luckily, there are lots of them in Moscow, permanent ones and temporary ones as well. Watching paintings, I fill myself with energy, so I can meet the world with new strengths. There was a gorgeous Foundation Lous Vuitton exhibition in Pushkin’s museum this summer, that I must have visited for about 15 times. And every time I discovered something new again. I am somewhat of an artist myself, I have a painting collection at home. But I only do paint when inspiration comes. Among other hobbies there are meeting friends, sports, travelling and some quiet family evenings.

AR: Where do you prefer to spend your vacations?

Svetlana: I am lucky that my job includes many business trips, it is a great advantage, as you get an opportunity to combine work with travelling. Since Dior’s headquarter is located in Paris, I go there quite often and never stop admiring this city. Various events connected to my job also take place in other places in Europe. I myself often fly to America, because my son is studying there. Travelling around America is always very eventful, different and fascinating. I snowboard, so mountains are one of my favorite destinations as well. In many cases while choosing vacation destinations I avoid any experiments: just go to the place I will definitely feel good and comfortable at.

AR: What, in your view, is a secret of Dior’s success?

Svetlana: Recently, the House of Dior that was established in 1947 by Christian Dior himself, turned 70 years. Over the last several years the brand has only been going up. The secret of such a success is that Dior brand manages to present a classic story created by Christian Dior according to the modern time. It is a delicate balance that is so difficult to maintain. And another part of success is, of course, management. It is Bernard Arnault’s, (Christian Dior and LVMH group of companies’ owner) ability to feel the business and manage such a huge machine, this is also a huge part of brand’s success.