On the fourth episode of We All Make Mistakes, our podcast host Ben Voyer speaks to prominent luxury industry leader: Cartier’s CEO and President, Cyrille Vigneron. At the head of a brand where timelessness and durability are core values, Cyrille Vigneron has been recognised and praised for his vision and sensitivity. He gives us insights into what it means to stick to one’s identity while still leaving enough space for others to express themselves.
Everyone can make mistakes, it happens all the time. We just have to work on fixing them when it does.
Finding your path 101: test, learn and trust your gut
“When I was a child, I had many different kinds of interests. I wanted to become an architect, and then I wanted to be a musician.” The career Cyrille Vigneron was destined to, however, has been far from one of an architect or a musician.
“Both my parents and my guitar teacher, as well as a professional architect, discouraged me to follow either path. So I thought, well, I might as well look for something serious.”
Hence why, a few years later, Cyrille Vigneron began his studies ESCP Business School, a path that started there and led to the position he is in now, though not without a few surprising milestones. “When I left my previous company for Cartier, everyone around me said it was a huge mistake. I said: time will tell.”
After a few years at Cartier, Cyrille Vigneron was offered a position in Japan, which he accepted even though he still was not sure this was what he wanted. Once again, his manager had to insist he take the job. “This was a one-way ticket. I knew it would either work out or be a mistake.
And I say this all the time: you have to make a decision on a one-way ticket and you don’t know if it’s a good choice or a mistake until late.” The same thing happened when he left Cartier for LVMH — people would say he could never come back to Cartier if this did not work out.
But he did. And Cartier offered him the position of President later on — proving everyone else wrong once again. When asked about it, Cyrille Vigneron simply states: “There are decisions to be made and sometimes there is no right or wrong. You can’t know in advance if your understanding is clear because it’s either complex or because so many factors interact. That’s when you have to listen to your heart or to your guts in some way. Your intuition will tell you what to do, and at that time, your intuition knows better than your reason.”
I think the time of the manager or president in their ivory tower is over. . . . People want to know who is making decisions and for what reason, what you stand for and what are your convictions.
Managing people with openness will lead you far
In terms of management styles, Cyrille Vigneron has been praised for his sensitivity, kindness and organisational skills. “I think the time of the manager or president in their ivory tower is over. There is a need for incarnation. People want to know who is making decisions and for what reason, what you stand for and what are your convictions.”
Throughout his career, he has managed to develop safe spaces for his employees to ask questions and speak their minds, even in an international group such as Cartier.
“Everyone matters and proximity makes a big difference,” says the CEO, who makes it a point of honour to meet his company’s teams and workers even in the most remote places.
“Nelson Mandela has a beautiful quote: ‘I never lose, I either win or I learn’, and that’s a fantastic attitude to have. Everyone can make mistakes, it happens all the time. We just have to work on fixing them when it does.”
To hear more about Cyrille Vigneron’s vision on leadership, have a listen to WAMM’s latest episode, available on all your favourite podcast apps.