See how we helped Gucci improve inter-brand mobility for leaders

Gucci Group employs around 14,000 people and comprises several world-renowned brands, including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, which create and sell ready-to-wear, shoes, jewellery, perfumes and other high-quality luxury goods.


Each of Gucci Group’s brands operate relatively discretely and autonomously, but the company’s central HR function wanted a way to identify and develop talent, and create greater inter-brand mobility for those individuals. The solution needed to fit in with Group HR’s role in the organisation – guiding and supporting the brands without imposing itself unnecessarily on their business activities, identity or culture – what Gucci Group refers to as its ‘DNA’.

The operating environment demands a fast pace, a competitive edge and an ability to balance creativity with an entrepreneurial spirit. Group HR wanted to recognise these great qualities and encourage them, rewarding those who model the desired Group DNA.

However, in an environment characterised by entrepreneurship and high performance, where business cycles are measured in months, rather than years, professional and personal development rarely rank highly in managers' priorities.

In order to future-proof the organisation and continue to get the best out of its people, the Group needed to strike a balance between "getting on with the job" and taking time for visioning and the development of its people.

Group HR commissioned OPP to work with the top 50 senior managers across the brands in Europe, the US and Asia. Together, they created a 360-degree feedback and coaching programme based on a bespoke competency framework that captured the essence of the various brands. The intention was that this framework would then underpin performance appraisals across the Group, and form a foundation for both recruitment and selection, and people development.

In its design, the framework drew on a variety of sources including key themes from within the Gucci Group organisation, Michael Gelb's insights into the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and OPP's expertise in leadership behaviour, competency design and personality.

Karen Lombardo, Group Executive VP of Human Resources, first met OPP when the project team came to present the model to her. "Da Vinci's words really resonated with us," she says. "They captured the need for connection, the balance between art and science, the need to embrace ambiguity and the requirement to be fit for purpose in a lean organisation like ours. What struck me most, though, was OPP's ability to understand our business and work within our priorities and constraints."

The brand CEOs and many of their direct reports took part in the first round of 360-degree feedback and coaching, using an online 360-degree questionnaire that OPP developed for Gucci Group in partnership with the US Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL). The questionnaire was tailored to the Group's new competency framework and benchmarked its leaders against thousands of managers across the globe.

Many senior figures at Group level also took part and Karen herself was keen to lead the way. She and her colleagues from around the world all received feedback and coaching from a team of experienced executive coaches focused on understanding their individual context and brand identity.

Following the success of the competency work with senior management, Group HR asked OPP to design a programme to help roll them out to staff at various levels across the organisation. OPP's consultants developed a short interactive workshop, before training Gucci Group's own HR staff to deliver the workshop across all brands and throughout the numerous geographical regions.

“The 360-degree feedback and coaching programme itself has been very well received,” says Barbara Mastoroudes, Worldwide Learning and Development Director, following her team’s evaluation of the impact of the programme. “95% of participants say it has raised their self-awareness and 100% say they would recommend the programme to their colleagues as it has helped them identify ways to build on their strengths and work on their development needs.”

OPP also provided Karen and Barbara with an anonymised summary of the key themes arising from both the 360-degrees and the coaching sessions. A mixture of statistical data and qualitative evidence, the report offered broad-ranging insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the senior management team across the Group and compared this with managers in other organisations.

Since its beginnings in 2006, the relationship between OPP and Gucci Group has gone from strength to strength. “It’s a fun relationship,” says Liane Hawthorne, Gucci Group’s Key Account Manager at OPP. “We trust each other enough to really challenge each other. I think the relationship itself embodies the competency framework we created together. There’s the mutual trust, there’s the shared passion for personal growth, there’s OPP helping make Karen’s vision a reality and there’s the entrepreneurial spirit we share that means we’re all willing to try something different – even if it takes us all out of our comfort zones!”

Karen agrees. “OPP’s consultants listen to us and create something around our needs. They’ll push us, offer their advice and expertise, but their priority is always to serve the needs of our business. I find that a unique quality among the consultancies I’ve worked with.”

What struck me most was OPP's ability to understand our business and work within our priorities and constraints

Karen Lombardo Group Executive VP of Human Resources. Gucci