Now in its 13th year, Retail Week is aimed at engaging and connecting Retail Management students at the Ted Rogers School of Management with members of the industry through networking events, competitions, workshops and panel discussions on trends in the world of retail. This year’s event, which took place November 16-20, 2020, was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite being online, this year’s Retail Week still featured several valuable and engaging activities for students to participate in, including a case competition (Canadian Retail Education Association Charrette) to tackle complex problems within the retail industry, speed networking to meet industry professionals and alumni from companies such as Adidas, Shopify and Canadian Tire and a Zone Learning Event to learn about topics related to product innovation design. Students also had the opportunity to play Retail Jeopardy and connect with the Director of the Retail Management program, Dr. Mark Lee.
In addition, part of this year’s Retail Week aimed to increase accessibility for all students to have the opportunity to hear from some of the many industry guest speakers that join the classes. These “Open Lectures” allowed even those who were not enrolled in a specific course to join the class for the guest speaker session and learn from Carolyn Hynds, Vice President, Loyalty, CRM & Analytics at Rexall, Jill MacDougall and a team from Lululemon and a panel of Merchandise Buyers and Planners at Saks off 5th, HBC, Umbra and Walmart.
Here is what a few students had to say about their experience attending virtual Retail Week:
Retail Week is an annual, fun-filled week with industry guest speakers and exciting activities pertaining to the Retail Industry. Throughout my years within the Retail Management program, I have always looked forward to it.
Given the current climate, there has been a barrier to interactions between students, but the Retail Jeopardy game gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my classmates in a more social space. This game was the first activity I participated in during Retail Week, which definitely exceeded my expectations. Although the core content of the game was academically focused, the fact that it was carried out within a game was very alluring. Because I am competitive by nature, I gravitated towards it. And humbly, I won! This was also the perfect activity for me to rehash the Retail Industry knowledge I acquired throughout my four years within the program.
From industry leaders as guest speakers to a product innovation challenge, Retail Week has always been something I’ve looked forward to. This year, I had a conflicting schedule with most of the events, but I managed to find the time to attend two of them.
The first was the “Be Well at Rexall” speaker session with Carolyn Hynds (Vice President of Loyalty, CRM & Analytics), where I got to learn about the intricacies that have to be taken into consideration when launching a successful loyalty program. The second was the Speed Networking session, where I had the chance to meet with Retail Management alumni who are now working at Shopify and RBC, as well as recruiters from Adidas and Aritzia. It is always amazing to see what kind of doors Retail Management can lead to, and I’m excited to see what next year’s Retail Week has in store.
I signed up for the CREA Charrette because it was an excellent opportunity to network with students all across North America in a friendly competition. It was also useful practice for working in a group towards a collective goal, all while being completely virtual.
The simulation was very different from the previous time I participated. I liked the fact that it forced you to take risks. My team originally was playing it a little safer in earlier rounds, but when we got to know each other better and started to take risks we started seeing better results. I was really excited to hear that we had won the competition. All the risks we had taken had paid off, which showed us the value of that in the real world.