Portraits

“Yours faithfully, passionately”, Joseph Bravo

Joseph Bravo joined Chanel in 1989, and today he is Executive Operations Director (Fine Leatherwear, Fantasy jewelry and textile accessories). This UTC graduate (Biological Engineering) has moved from fashion shows to slaughter-houses, from 3-year strategic plans to high class back pack details.

“Yours faithfully, passionately”, Joseph Bravo

 

“The world of fashion is organized round 6 collections each year”, says Joseph Bravo, by way of an introduction, who now manages a team of 60, 60% of whom are qualified engineers – “with one from UTC and one from UTBM (Belfort-Montbéliard); I recruited both personally! So what exactly is his job? It consists of accompanying the style studio, seeking to secure an environment conduce to creativity, to supervise fabrication, to assure logistics of the products from assembly bench to the shop counter … and all of this with very short lead-times."

Learning to forget one is an engineer! 

“We’re in a logic of perishable goods” adds Joseph Bravo who has a great admiration (and justly so) for the products and their novelty. The studio is always pushing back the limits of the materials used and the assembly processes. The team is driven by a stimulating creative energy. “Indeed, I ask the engineers to forget their technical training and qualifications, to accept that they cannot control everything and to accept the challenges of creation, which at times may prove frustrating and uncomfortable for the engineers”. Fine leather-wear is the Department’s main activity, but which department also oversees ties, scarves, head-gear, tennis rackets, fantasy jewelry and even surf-boards. “Our activity is in line with sectorial goods and I regularly visit the slaughter-houses and the livestock farms to check out leather supplies – a very competitive area! We are lucky to be able to work with suppliers who are attached and faithful to the Chanel brand!” says Joseph Bravo “Some of the Paris seamstresses even worked with Mademoiselle Chanel!” Joseph Bravo is deeply attached to his family Region and still lives near to Compiegne even if he is often required to travel between France, the USA and Japan. “Not a week goes by when I don’t drive in front of the UTC campus”.

From the world of luxury to that of fashion 

Joseph was admitted to UTC with a Bac. E [mathematics and technology] gained at the Compiegne Lycée ; he initially intended to qualify for a career in mechanical engineering, but instead he chose biological engineering – because, so he hints, there were more female students in this specialty! His end-of-course dissertation and placement with a company called BioCis, turned into his being recruited. BioCis was created by a UTC professor, a company specialized in reactive agents for medical research. “I found this experience very rewarding and it oriented my career to industries close to the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, including cosmetics”, he explains. In 1989 at the age of 2C7, he became Manager of the bottling/packaging unit for Bourgeois® perfumes (Chanel), at the Compiegne factory, where he supervised a 60-strong team. That was his entry point to the world of luxury goods where his next career step was his appointment as Works & Methods Manager on the same site (in 1992) where his responsibilities were to manage the industrial organization, the investment plans, the launching of new products, including the perfume Allure® . At the time, Chanel had the policy of launching a new perfume every 10 years. After this exalting phase, the launch teams benefitted from internal promotions. Thus, I became Director for Works and Methods (Fine Leatherwear) at their Verneuil-en-Halatte unit and that was where I discovered the world of fashion”. Joseph Bravo left biotechnologies but with no regrets. “I even learned to use a sewing machine! When you work for Chanel, you credibility depends on your know-how! In 1998, he transferred to the Marketing Dept. at the Home Office in Neuilly, where he set in motion a new project management organization, for perfume and other beauty goods. From 2002 to present, he has been the Executive Operations Director (Fine Leatherwear, Fantasy jewelry and textile accessories). “Chanel is a “house” where we feel comfortable, given the family stock-holder structure, and its attachment to ‘all things beautiful’. The entrepreneurial house culture is strongly positive and it is not unusual to cross the paths of colleagues who have been there for 20, even 30 years, despite the hectic work-loads and schedules”.

Learning to adapt 

Our UTC graduate – who has changed his subscription from the magazine Usine Nouvelle to Elle – underscores the way he learned to adapt. “Changing and adapting is a real added value and I pay special attention to this when I hire new people. Fashion simply is not an engineers’ universe, seen as they are as people to would stop stylists from designing an unstable perfume bottle! One must never tell the stylists it is impossible – we have to find a solution with them, and this is a passionate quest, whenever you are enamored with the products”.

Bio-Notes:

  • 1980: Admitted to UTC
  • 1985: UTC engineering diploma in Biological engineering (GB), and recruited by BioCis
  • 1989: Manager of the bottling/packaging unit for Bourgeois® perfumes (Chanel), at the Compiegne factory.
  • 1992: Works & methods Manager (same factory)
  • 1998: Chanel, Project Management Director (Perfumes and Beauty)
  • 2002: Chanel, Director for Development (Fine Leatherwear)
  • 2007 to date: Chanel, Executive Operations Director (Fine Leatherwear, Fantasy jewelry and textile accessories)