Retail Week 2016

Every year, the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management provides students with numerous opportunities to expand their education beyond the classroom. The academic year is jam-packed with exciting networking events, skills workshops and frequent visits from industry leaders.

One series of events is an absolute can’t-miss opportunity for Retail Management students across all years of the program: Retail Week.

Retail Week is organized by a joint committee of faculty and students from the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management and brings in leading retailers from across North America and other global markets.

The theme for Retail Week 2016 was The “Next Gen” in Canadian Retail, hosting an impressive lineup of retailers such as Saks Off Fifth, TJX Canada, Starbucks, Groupe Dynamite, Microsoft and many others.

Here’s my recap of Retail Week 2016, which ran from October 31 to November 4, 2016.

Day 1: TJX Canada

The week started off strong with a presentation by Stephanie Lynden, a Talent Acquisition Specialist at TJX Canada, at TRSM Commons. Stephanie engaged students in a discussion about the unique off-price retailing model of TJX retailers Winners, Marshalls and HomeSense. Her presentation also featured the breadth of career opportunities available to students at TJX Canada, ranging from positions in the Category Management, Supply Chain, Merchandising and Product Development departments of the organization.

Day 2: Saks Off Fifth and Meeting Alumni

After a successful start to the week, students were in for a treat on Day 2, with a panel of fashion buyers from Saks Off Fifth. This event was especially engaging as the buyers were all alumni from Retail Management and Ryerson’s Fashion Communication program, allowing students the opportunity to make valuable connections and seek mentorship in their fields of interest. The event featured in-depth explanations of fashion buying and a workshop outlining the practice of “BFPQ” used in the buying world: Brand, Fashion, Price and Quality.

Saks Off Fifth Panel

Saks Off Fifth Panel: Cristina Mastrantoni (class of 2003), Elsie So (class of 2007), and Ashley Ford (School of Fashion, class of 2010)

Students were given merchandise to review and rate on a scale of 1 to 4 in each of the BFPQ criteria, for a possible total score of 16. In order to be considered an eligible buy, each of the pieces must have attained a collective score of 12. It was an eye-opening activity and really forced students to look beyond our personal biases and preferences to examine the pieces in front of them.

Next was a presentation by a group of Retail Management alumni who are passionate about getting students to think outside the box by educating them about the non-traditional career paths available to graduates of the Retail Management program.

Day 3: Groupe Dynamite and Speed Networking

Day 3 was a great example of how the school of Retail Management is an innovative leader within the industry and was able to successfully display the concept of the seamless consumer experience for its students through an online and in-person event featuring Groupe Dynamite. Students were able to attend through live stream, and participate by asking questions about co-op and internship opportunities available at Groupe Dynamite’s Montreal office.

Speed networking

Judy BenDavid of Costco Canada exchanging business cards with students during Speed Networking

Day 3 also featured a Speed Networking event held in the CPA Lounge at TRSM. Candidates had 6–8 minutes at each table to introduce themselves, provide an elevator pitch, and learn about the opportunities offered by each retailer. The retailer attendees included TJX Canada, Sherwin Williams, Le Chateau, H&M and Hudson’s Bay Company.

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Day 4: Consumer Packaged Goods and Alumni Panel

Day 4 included a presentation by Jonathan Foster, who has over 27 years of experience with Kraft Canada and Coca-Cola. Jonathan talked about the brand strategies of manufacturers and retailers in the consumer packaged goods industry. The afternoon featured a stimulating presentation by Starbucks Canada explaining their focus on corporate social responsibility and continued success in adopting omni-channel retailing practices through the Starbucks Rewards program.

Alumni Panel

John Panighel (Adidas Canada, RM class of 2011), Jennifer Goliss (Bluenotes, class of 2010), Ryan Trotman (AVP Digital Content, Canadian Tire), Janice Rudkowski (Assistant Professor), Sara Peshnak (Indigo, Co-President Retail Alumni Association, Class of 2013), Kylie Black (Canadian Tire, Class of 2014), Hilary Taylor (TJX Canada, Class of 2014), Dana Marlatt (3rd year student), Linda Nguyen (Restaurant Owner, Co-President Retail Alumni Association, Class of 2012)

Day 4 also featured what many students felt was the highlight of Retail Week: an alumni panel featuring Jennifer Goliss (Senior Buyer/ Product Developer at Bluenotes), Cristina Avila (Marketing Director at Dixie Outlet Mall) and John Panighel (CRM & Digital Marketing Manager at Adidas Canada). The event allowed students to capitalize on the opportunity to mingle with the panelists and foster new connections within a variety of industries.

Day 5: Big Data and Analytics

Retail Week definitely mastered the strong finish with two events on Day 5: a presentation by Microsoft Canada and a workshop outlining entrepreneurship within apparel from revolutionary men’s suiting retailer Indochino.

Indochino Presentation

Brandon Baldassarre and Bilal Ali (Indochino, Toronto Showroom)

We also saw an outstanding presentation by Greg Dashwood (Head of Analytics and IOT at Microsoft Canada), updating students on the global happenings in IT within the retail industry. Topics covered the breadth of Big Data and Analytics and how they are revolutionizing the world of retail.

The final event refreshed students with an exclusive insider look at a retailer developing innovative practices in the field of men’s suiting. E-commerce based retailer Indochino began its practice online and successfully transitioned to brick & mortar, with locations in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, and many other leading cities.

Final Thoughts

After a week packed with expertly curated events, it’s safe to say that the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management successfully accomplished another great Retail Week by continuing to display a strong focus on prioritizing the success of students both inside and outside the classroom. Retail Week 2016 was a true exhibit of how the Retail Management program is a unique and strong leader within the TRSM and Ryerson community.

At Retail Week 2016, our alumni and current student success was heard loud and clear across the community!

Posted by Jessica Singh

Jessica Singh is the Vice President of Events for the Retail Students' Association. She is a 4th year student, pursuing Retail Management and a double minor in Marketing and Fashion Studies. Throughout her time at TRSM, Jessica has been actively involved as a delegate of DECA Ryerson, a TRSS breakthrough program mentor for first-year students, and is a student representative on the Retail Academic Council. Jessica is passionate about expanding the reach of the Retail Management program within TRSM and is always looking for new ways to evolve as a student through her involvement at school and within the community.

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