Yu Ma and Anwar White, directors of the Master of Management in Retailing (MMR) at McGill University, are gearing up to launch the new program in fall 2021.
The new program is the latest offering by the Bensadoun School of Retail Management (BSRM) at McGill University. The BSRM opened in 2018 with the mission to educate and empower a global network of interdisciplinary thinkers and practitioners to research, envision, and prototype a dynamic and successful world of retail.
Academic Director Yu Ma is the visionary behind the MMR curriculum and learning experience. He’s served as an associate professor of marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management since 2016 and holds the title of Bensadoun Faculty Scholar at McGill University.
A veteran in the retail industry, Anwar White joined the Bensadoun School of Retail Management as the program director of the new MMR in 2019. Anwar is responsible for student outreach and the internship and experiential components of the program.
We recently spoke to Yu and Anwar about their vision for the new MMR program.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Yu: I have been working as a professor since I completed my PhD in Management at Washington University in St. Louis. I enjoy researching the retail sector and teaching marketing and data analytics classes. Travel is a big part of my life, and I’ve enjoyed living in Canada, China, and the United States. The experiences in those countries shaped how I perceive the world and food. I love all types of food from everywhere all around the world; hence I do a lot of research on food marketing!
Anwar: I received my MBA with a focus on Retail and General Management (if there was a Master of Management in Retailing when I was studying, I would have applied in a heartbeat!). My work in the retail industry was mainly in fashion, working for companies like Versace, Uniqlo, Guess Inc., and the Tom Ford Collection in a variety of different departments like marketing, strategy, and finance. When I’m not at McGill’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management, I’m either watching bad reality TV, teaching my children violin, or discovering the wonders of Montreal.
What makes McGill’s MMR program unique?
Yu: Our MMR program approaches retail management from an integrated perspective. We have built the curriculum on the concept of customer journey to understand, attract and satisfy retail customers and manage for sustainability. The program will train students on the skillsets needed to fulfil each step of the retail journey, drawing from the relevant business disciplines. We don’t treat business disciplines, such as marketing and operation management, as separate silos. They are integrated in the programs to support and enhance retail management education.
Anwar: Our amazing partnerships and collaborators help to make this program very unique. These partnerships serve in two very important ways: first, they ensure that our students can connectwith some top retail firms for their internships and full-time job search; and second, they promise that our curriculum is always going to being practical and relevant because we will know exactly what the top retail companies are looking for in terms of talent.
What’s your favourite thing about the new MMR program?
Yu: We make the program very flexible to accommodate different students’ needs. For students who come into the program with significant retail experience, they can complete an accelerated track in one year. There is also a wide selection of elective courses that can allow students to be trained in analytics, creatives, or leadership.
Anwar: I am so excited about all of the experiential opportunities offered with the program. With such activities as the three- to four-month internship component, the Global Retail Challenge (an entrepreneurial case competition), and the Retail Innovation Lab, our students will have a plethora of opportunities to stand out from the crowd when applying and attaining their dream careers after graduation. I think this is especially important for those students who are new graduates or professionals without much retail experience.
What are the qualities you look for in a prospective MMR student?
Yu: Passion for retail. Motivation to succeed. Desire to lead the digital transformation of the retail industry.
Anwar: I like to look at applicants holistically. I want to see that you can do the work in this rigorous program but also have a passion for retail. Leadership and the ability to take initiative is important here since those qualities will help you be a leader in the future of retail. I’m also interested in understanding how innovative you are and if you have been a pioneer in any of your past experiences. I’m also looking for diversity in the class in terms of culture, region, language, ethnicity, work experience, and undergraduate majors.
What does the future of retail look like to you?
Yu: The future of retail will be highly personalized, transparent, and sustainable. Physical stores and direct to consumer channels will co-exist and complement each other.
Anwar: The future of retail is dynamic, fun, fast-paced, but most importantly digital. Moving forward, ecommerce and omni-channel offerings will be of the utmost importance—and those who are skilled in these areas will succeed.
The McGill Master of Management in Retailing is now accepting applications for the fall 2021 cohort. Apply by December 15, 2020 to be considered for the first round of applications.
Before joining McGill, Dr. Yu Ma was an associate professor at the University of Alberta. He obtained his PhD in management from Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis. Published in top management journals like Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research and Management Science, Yu’s research focuses on understanding how consumers react to various marketing incentives, with a particular interest in the retail sector and food marketing.
Areas of expertise: Data analytics, retailing, and food marketing
Anwar White is a veteran in the retail industry, with an impressive career spanning retail greats like Versace, Uniqlo, Tom Ford, and Guess. Anwar has also worked for a variety of startups and entrepreneurial ventures by helping them market and scale their companies to reach millions of end users. He obtained his MBA from Columbia Business School (Retail concentration) and his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University in Statistics. Anwar currently teaches marketing strategy and will be heading the experiential courses of the MMR program.
Areas of expertise: Marketing strategy, retailing, and fashion marketing, finance, and operations