Celine Faict (SKEMA 2013), Senior Product Manager at Neuhaus

12 March 2024 Interview

"Marketing is an exciting, creative and highly versatile profession".

A graduate of SKEMA Business School, Celine Faict is now based in Brussels, where she is Senior Product Manager for a renowned chocolatier. She shares with us her passion for marketing and looks back on her enriching academic and professional journey so far, from her studies at the famous business school to her current job. Tell us a little about your academic background. Why did you choose SKEMA Business School?


I'm originally from the Baie de Somme, in Picardy. After graduating from high school, I went straight to an undergraduate business school in Amiens to do a three-year course. Right from the start, it was clear to me that I wanted to work in commerce. I discovered marketing in my first year of study and I fell in love with it!


At that school, I got the opportunity to be an exchange student abroad in Spain and China, to discover different aspects of the business world, to take part in group projects... After this enriching experience, I naturally decided to continue my studies with a Master's degree at a graduate school of business.

In 2010, I joined the first SKEMA Business School cohort by enrolling in the Master 1 Grande École Programme on the Lille campus.


When I joined SKEMA, it had just opened under its new name, but it already had a solid track record and a vast network. I was attracted by the international outlook and academic excellence that characterise the school.

I'm very happy with my choice! It's a very prestigious school. And actually, I heard very good things about SKEMA Business School once I was out in the working world; my employers in Belgium even knew about it.

I feel very close to this school and I'm very grateful for everything it has given me. That's partly why I chose to get involved as a SKEMA Business School ambassador in Brussels.

What was it like to join the job market after your studies at SKEMA Business School? 


After the first year of my Master's programme, I took a year off to do marketing internships in Paris with two major companies: Printemps and Danone.

These initial experiences in the corporate world made me want to continue my integration into the working world the following year. So, I did the second year of my Master's degree as a sandwich course on SKEMA Business School's Paris campus. There, I joined the LVMH group, to work for Moët Hennessy Diageo as Junior Brand Manager.

It was very rewarding to discover the reality in the field by gaining work experience in companies of different sizes and in different sectors. It also confirmed the direction I wanted to head in.


After two years in Paris, I wanted a change of scenery and a more serene environment so, once I’d graduated from SKEMA Business School, I moved to Nantes to work for a small family business, Tipiak, as a temporary replacement for 6 months.

Then, while searching for new opportunities, I finally landed a VIE (Volunteer for International Experience) contract in Brussels, with the Lactalis group. After two years in the VIE programme, I was hired as Brand Manager on a permanent contract

I was responsible for managing the Galbani and Salakis brands in Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). My role mainly involved adapting product marketing strategies to the local market, creating content, managing promotions and launches...


After four years with Lactalis, I was offered a brand manager position with the chocolate manufacturer Leonidas. I loved this experience: I worked from the head office, at the heart of the brand's parent company, where I worked on marketing development. This position gave me a lot of creative freedom: based on market trends and consumer research, I identified customer expectations and created all the marketing actions from scratch (product launch, packaging, communication strategy, etc.). I loved being able to work so freely; it was very fulfilling!


Why did you choose a career in marketing? What do you love most about it?


I've always found it fascinating to figure out why a consumer would choose one product over another. I love understanding the needs of consumers and thinking about how best to meet these and fulfil their desires.


Since I'm also very curious and creative by nature, marketing allows me to dabble in a bit of everything and get my creativity and imagination working all the time. It's such a treat!

It's also a very people-centric job. As a product manager, I work with a lot of people from very different backgrounds, whether colleagues from other departments in-house, or external suppliers and agencies. This requires empathy and the ability to listen in order to juggle different personalities and get everyone committed to a common, stimulating and exciting project. As one of my professors at SKEMA Business School once said to me, a product manager is a bit like a conductor!


What does your job involve?


After 4 years with Leonidas, I was contacted by a recruitment agency to join Neuhaus, another brand of Belgian chocolate.

I've been working there for a few months now as Senior Product Manager in Product Development. I analyse the year's trends and highlights and think about how to create ever-more innovative products aligned with consumer expectations. To do this, I work closely with master chocolatiers and the R&D team, who have in-depth knowledge of the product. I work with Belgian chefs to develop new recipes, with local suppliers to create packaging, and with creative agencies for the design side...


We regularly organise sample tastings and tests with a panel of consumers to achieve excellence. Neuhaus is a premium brand that really aims for perfection at every level, whether in the choice of ingredients, recipes or packaging. I love the fact that I'm responsible for creating products that will end up in all Neuhaus stores in Belgium and abroad, and above all that will delight the palates of many consumers.


Have you noticed any differences between the French and Belgian work cultures?


In Belgium, I was immediately struck by people’s kindness and humility. Belgians are very friendly and don't take themselves too seriously. It's very pleasant in everyday life.

At work, they also attach great importance to work-life balance. It's not uncommon to leave early, and it's not frowned upon at all! They don’t see it as a sign of disengagement; on the contrary, it shows that you’re efficient at doing your work.


Over the past few years, teleworking has become much more popular, and it has now been introduced in many companies. This demonstrates real freedom and trust on the part of employers towards their employees.

I really like the quality of life in Brussels.


Do you have any career advice for recent SKEMA Business School graduates?


My advice would be to make the most of internships and get as much work experience as possible. These are invaluable opportunities for fine-tuning your career goals and discovering the reality in the field. This time spent gaining hands-on experience is greatly appreciated by employers, both in France and abroad. Don't hesitate to ask questions, be curious, talk to the school’s alumni and find out about the careers that interest you. Finally, I encourage you to believe in yourself, trust yourself, and have the courage to go after what you enjoy.


Contact: Celine Faict, Senior Product Manager at Neuhaus.

Interview by for SKEMA Alumni