My Work: Eric Russack

Portrait of Eric Russack

Interview: Haris Stavridis // Portrait: Courtesy of Eric Russack

Could you please tell us about your role at Swarovski?

I have an amazing role focused on building new businesses for the company through license partnerships with other fashion, accessory, or luxury brands. We also work on proprietary collections for several vertical retailers as well.

What is your typical day at the office like?

My day does not really have a start and stop. I have teams on three continents, so someone is always awake. I am very fortunate though, as they are all very dedicated, smart and hard working, so we are able to be very efficient and get a lot done. I travel ten to fourteen days per month, mostly internationally. I love travelling. It gives you an amazing perspective, and I am always learning.

You are a veteran in the watches and jewellery sector. How is technology reshaping those fields and what has changed over the years?

Technology is certainly a disruptive factor at the moment. It has had a significant impact in everything from manufacturing to marketing. In jewellery, we see 3D printing having a major influence on how first prototypes are made and putting into question the need for craftsmen to interpret a design from paper to metal. With the introduction of the smartwatch, we see the potential for a whole new “next gen” of watches, much like what happened when quartz movements dislocated the mechanical movements in the 1970’s. And of course, e-commerce is continually changing the dynamics of how these products are bought and sold. It is a very exciting time, but it can also be a very unnerving time if you are on the wrong side of this technology revolution.

Do you feel that smartwatches pose a threat to traditional watchmaking brands?

I think that smartwatches will have a bigger impact on the fashion watch brands than the traditional luxury watch brands. Technology in watches is here to stay and the applications will just get better and better. The success will come from excellent execution of meaningful technology in a great looking timepiece.

Which are the most important markets for you at the moment? Why?

Asia, of course, continues to be a growth market with lots of opportunity. However, Europe and the Middle East are still strong, and so are the Americas. We see lots of global opportunity at the moment. We are experts in making high quality jewellery infused with the DNA of our brand partners. These partnerships are an incredible catalyst for us to build a successful global business.

What are your business priorities for the next six months?

Launch compelling and curated collections with our brand partners, continue to develop my high performing team, and overachieve as much as possible.

When it comes to fashion and business news, what's on your daily reading list? Any great business books you'd like to recommend?

I try and take in as much news as possible from many different sources. My go to list includes the New York Times, WWD, Business of Fashion, BBC, the Financial Times, CNBC, and Bloomberg. I read “How Google Works” recently, it had some interesting passages. The one about “Knights and Knaves” was one of my favourites.

Could you tell us about the biggest setback you have faced in your career? How did you respond to it?

It was a probably when I joined a company and found out soon after joining that their financial situation was very dire. Once this became apparent, I immediately started to work on finding my next opportunity. I was lucky and got out before they filed for Chapter 11.

What are your biggest headaches at work right now?

Improving the speed at which we can develop and deliver products. People who waste time on inconsequential matters. Macroeconomic challenges and the way they impact business around the world.

What kind of opportunities do you see for Swarovski at the moment?

Swarovski is a great company with so many opportunities. One of our greatest opportunities is building our licensed portfolio of brands. This is a great way for our company to diversify while capitalising on all of our core competencies. We are really excited about the potential.

Who would you like to recommend next for My Work?

I would recommend Caterina Occhio of SeeMe. Caterina is an amazing woman filled with energy and passion, who empowers women victims of violence to lead independent lives through the provision of sustainable work. She does this by creating an incredible collection of jewellery sold in select retailers around the world.

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