Raul Gonzalez

Raul Gonzalez

Training Manager for CHANEL

New York, United States


Tell us about your journey at Luxottica.

My journey with Luxottica started from the ground up. What began as my very first job right after high school has turned into a career I couldn’t have imagined. Over the last 14 years I’ve held many positions, beginning as a part-time sales associate for Sunglass Hut in Los Angeles, CA. I started with no knowledge about the world of eyewear and quickly developed a passion for the stories behind the intricate designs, the ability to provide the key to a luxury or lifestyle brand, and the reaction from customers when we found the perfect pair. After graduating from college, I decided to change my career path and joined Luxottica full time. I started as a Store Manager and gradually took on more responsibility in different markets, until I became a Regional Trainer for the East Los Angeles Region. That Regional Trainer position led me to become the Regional Trainer for the Americas for Travel Retail and Boutiques. Now I’m the Training Manager for CHANEL, based in New York, and introduce, educate, and excite our clients on our newest CHANEL eyewear.

What does Luxottica mean to you?

Possibility. When you think about the global scope and opportunity Luxottica provides, you realize there is always a place for everyone to develop and grow.

Tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve encountered.

The biggest challenge I’ve overcome is finding and being comfortable with my unique voice as a leader. I had an incredible mentor that challenged me and helped me express myself as a Ieader. I learned that you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, but you do have to speak up when you have something to say.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on?

During my time at Sunglass Hut as a Regional Trainer I had the opportunity to participate in our FMBT course, which coaches you on how to lead your own zone of stores as a Regional Manager would. During the eight- week course I had to create a business plan and provide training to each store manager. At the end, our zone surpassed the goal by double digits.

Have you had influential mentors in your time here? How did they positively influence your career?

Yes! My first mentor kick-started my career, she showed me what an incredible opportunity I could have by joining Luxottica full time! Under her guidance, I realized my passion for training and she encouraged me to find my voice as a leader. Within my different positions I have encountered success, challenges, setbacks and have been extremely lucky to always have incredible colleagues to guide and inspire my work and leadership. I wouldn’t have been able to grow within my current position without their support and years of experience they have passed on to me. A reason for my long tenure has been in part to the incredible people I get to work next to – people work for people!

What advice would you give to university students or young professionals thinking about a career in your area?

Follow your passions but know that your plans, interests and/or career path might change and that’s okay. Be open to new opportunities and ventures.

What would you like to share with someone who wants to begin work as store associate and grow in the retail area?

My career path is testament to the fact that the retail world offers great opportunity, even if you start at entry level. If you approach your first role with an entrepreneurial, hardworking mindset, reward will follow. The retail environment at Luxottica is amazing because you’re exposed to so many different parts of the business and ultimately develop skills in business analysis, strategy, customer service and leadership.

How has your early retail experience helped you during your later career?

My frontline retail experience has shaped my entire career. In practical terms, it taught me how to sell the story and romance of our product, how to maximize visual merchandising opportunities, and about the overall experience and expectation our customers have with eyewear. In addition to this skillset, when you’re working on the shop floor you learn that you’re the public face of the company, responsible for the communicating the overall brand and making the customer experience a memorable one. That understanding has underpinned every retail position I’ve taken on since. When I was a part-time associate in Sunglass Hut, my priority was to make the customer’s day by helping them find the perfect pair of shades and express their personality through eyewear. That remains my priority today.

What’s one of the most significant advantages of having started on the retail side?

The ability to genuinely speak to the customer experience. As Regional Training Manager for the Americas, I trained our Boutique and Travel Retail clients on our new product and how to create a narrative around our newness. Being able to share my insights and anecdotes from my time on the sales floor really helps me to connect to the associates I train.

What is it about working in our retail function that brings your joy?

Firstly, I can’t answer this question without mentioning my talented colleagues and leaders who bring me endless joy and inspiration every week. Secondly, I believe retail is the most exciting branch of our Luxottica family and that’s because I like to think of our retail stores as the Luxottica stage, where all the different components (product, visuals, training, business acumen etc.) come to life. There is an immediate gratification to finding the perfect pair of glasses for your customer – it reveals how eyewear is more than just an accessory, it’s an extension of someone’s identity.