Benefit from our faculty and experts.


Program Director (Academic)

Professor of Marketing, Associate Dean of Faculty, Former Chair Professor (LVMH Chair)


Prof. Sonja Prokopec is a Professor of Marketing and the Associate Dean of Faculty at ESSEC Business School APAC based in Singapore. Her research explores consumer judgment and decision-making. She is also interested in understanding the factors that affect brand perceptions of luxury brands. Prof. Prokopec's research has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, and International Journal of Research in Marketing among others, as well as a variety of media including the Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, the Business of Fashion and Business Times Singapore.

She was the ESSEC LVMH Chair Professor of Luxury Brand Management for 12 years, from 2010 – 2022. She was named one of the Top 40 under 40 Business School Professors worldwide in 2015 (Poets&Quants ranking). Outside of teaching and research, she actively advises companies from the luxury and automotive industries, as well as start-ups regarding consumer behavior trends, consumer research and marketing, and brand management issues. She is also an advisory council member of Singapore Fashion Council and VOGUE Council.


Professor of Management Practice (Marketing)

Professor Gautam Kiyawat has deep industry experience across Consumer, Media, and Advertising sectors. His area of focus is in helping businesses maximize returns on their marketing investments. Gautam leads digital transformation consulting sprints for teams who want to build digital capability, scale revenue, or drive effectiveness of their advertising spends. Over the course of his 25-year industry career prior to joining ESSEC, Gautam has worked in leadership roles at P&G, Disney|Star, Madison Media, Philips, and Singtel, along with digital start-up and consulting experience. He has lived and worked in Singapore, the US, and India.



Fanny Ponsot has some 15 years of work experience in Marketing and Sales - first at Marc Jacobs in New York, then at L'Occitane en Provence and at Le Bon Marché Parisian department store. These positions allowed her to enhance her knowledge on selective retailing challenges, looking for innovative support and animations, and to develop a high comprehensive product sensibility and knowledge, including cosmetics, watches & fine jewelry, leather goods, shoes, wines & spirits.

She arrived in Singapore in 2017 and is a Partner of Chic, a French global creative agency dedicated to luxury and premium brands. As Managing Director of the APAC office, she enhances the client experience in stores, airports and department stores, on-line and off-line covering the diverse Asian market. Fanny Ponsot holds a Postgraduate Diploma in International Law from Paris Descartes University and an MBA from ESSEC Business School.


Program Director (Experience)
Faculty & Expert

Dennis co-founded Genesis-Global Gems & Jewellery Group, a purveyor of exquisite gems and jewelry in the ultra-luxury market, with business interest in various markets across Asia. Having started the business over 11 years and coupled with over 20 years of experience and expertise, Dennis specializes in the sourcing of rare diamonds and precious gems directly from mines across the world, for purposes ranging from investments to adornment.

Prior to that, Dennis had 16 years of corporate working experience with various multi-national organizations across various industries, such as luxury hotels, luxury retail, FMCG, logistics & distribution, and leisure. His forte lies in the areas of learning and development, and services.

In his free time, Dennis is an avid wine and champagne collector. His real passion lies in rare gems collection.



James is Director at Agility Research & Strategy, a data, insights, and strategy firm focused on the Affluent and High-Net Worth consumer sector. He is based in Singapore.

He has extensive experience helping luxury brands understand consumer behavior and develop product, marketing, branding, communications, and sales strategies. Prior to relocating to Singapore, he lived and worked in Mainland China for over 19 years, and ran Agility's Shanghai office since 2017.

He has worked closely with brands in sectors ranging from wine & spirits to fashion, automotive, travel & hospitality, jewelry, education, and financial services to help them understand target consumers in-depth.

He has been widely quoted in worldwide business media including Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, CNBC, and USA Today, and is a frequent speaker on China market trends including at the World Retail Congress Asia-Pacific.

James holds degrees from Duke University and studied Chinese language intensively at Capital Normal University in Beijing.


Expert (Italy)

Prior to founding Hydra Advisory and contributing to different assignments as a senior consultant and advisor to brands and investors, Maximiliano (Max) has gained decades of international experience working for both leading corporate luxury groups as well as family-owned brands and start-ups. Among these brands that Max has worked for are the LVMH Group, Dolce&Gabbana and Ermenegildo Zegna, as well as other companies and start-ups, covering several roles in general strategy, international development, and marketing.

Max holds a Master in International Trade from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) and an MBA in Luxury Brand Management from ESSEC Business School (France). He has also attended the Executive Program in Global Strategy at Harvard Business School (USA). Max is a regular visiting lecturer at ESSEC Business School in France, Politecnico di Milano, and Marangoni School in Italy - He is frequently invited to talk about International Strategy and Development in the luxury industry.

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