Thomas Balin has built his career path with positions in a vastly diverse range of businesses and companies. His wide-ranging experience has allowed him to gain customer insights from a variety of perspectives. Today he is drawing on this customer-facing awareness to drive excellence at Fred.
“To totally delight customers you need a perfect mix of product, service and people, which makes for a complex equation. You need to take the broader environment into account, and that’s one of the things that makes this work so motivating.
I became convinced of this while studying at the Glion Institute of Higher Education hotel school, where I had a chance to gain very enriching experience in a range of areas. After working in the restaurant industry I joined Sephora, where I was regional director and then commercial director for the Netherlands. Then I was head of operations for an optical retail group. All told I’ve had nine years of hands-on experience with both commercial and financial responsibilities in a variety of retail channels in France and other countries, bringing me a clear vision of what service is about from the retail side. And now I’m ready to move over to the creative side.
I joined LVMH in late 2013 as International Development Director for Fred. Our Maison has unique DNA and powerful recognition, giving it immense potential, especially in Asia. That’s why I’m based in Hong Kong with responsibility in particular for developing Fred in China, Singapore and South Korea. This effort involves all our teams, starting of course with the executive team that approves our strategic plan, as well as our administrative and financial experts who assess the impact of the strategy. Then our marketing specialists design our stores and oversee merchandising of the collections, human resources recruits our sales advisors, logistics takes charge of the supply chain – really every department contributes. The development of the retail network in South Korea is a good example. For this “start-up” project I spent months building awareness of Fred’s unique values and offering among the main jewelry retailers in the country. I recruited and managed teams, selected and supported our PR agency, etc. The agility, curiosity and listening skills I’ve developed in recent years thanks to our customers and our teams have been tremendously important. I believe these three factors are essential in order to deliver excellence.