Global Retail Challenge (GRC)

The Global Retail Challenge (GRC) is an entrepreneurial competition that tackles the pressing issues impacting retail, sustainability, the circular economy, and the grand challenges facing our societies.

Each participating team (comprised of 4-5 students and a relevant faculty advisor) will be charged with finding solutions to accelerate young consumers’ participation in scalable circular economies for retail and consumer products. This 10-week virtual challenge culminates at McGill for finals weekend. It includes a Montreal city experience, coaching and mentoring to further develop the teams’ pitches, semi-finals and final presentations and an awards ceremony and dinner.

The Global Retail Challenge is possible due to our partners the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the RIC, McGill University, and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management, and our generous sponsors.

GRC 2019

The GRC challenge started in early fall with the teams applying design thinking over the course of 6 weeks. The teams then gathered at McGill University for a finals weekend November 13th-16th, where executives from sponsor companies, together with retail and circular economy experts, judged the finalists.

GRC 2018

The Conference on the Circular Economy for Retailing took place at McGill University’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management in collaboration with Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design on November 16, 2018. This conference was one among other premier events happening on the weekend of the launch of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University.

The aim of this conference was to provide a forum for both professionals and academics, from the leading firms and universities of the world, to foster discussions about the latest research, industry practices and approaches, as well as trends and challenges related to the implementation of the circular economy in the context of retail.


Robyn Collver

Senior Vice-President, Risk and Regulatory Affairs, for Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited

She has led the Sustainability efforts at Canadian Tire since 2012. Following a year in which she also acted as Chief of Staff/Senior Adviser to the CEO and led the Communications function for an interim period, she is now focused on further developing the Company’s ESG strategy.

Robyn joined Canadian Tire Corporation in 2002 as Associate General Counsel, was appointed General Counsel of Canadian Tire’s Financial Services division in 2004 and served as General Counsel of Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited from 2008 to 2015.

Robyn is currently on the Boards of Directors of Alzheimer Society of Toronto and Stewardship Ontario.

She holds a law degree from University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Acadia University.

Wedad  Elmaghraby

Professor, University of Maryland 

Wedad Elmaghraby is a Professor in the Operations Management and Management Science group at the Smith School. Her current research interests focus on the impact of market structure on the profitability and performance of business-to-business markets. Using both controlled lab experiments and proprietary data from industry collaborators, she has explored market frictions and  behavioral factors that influence bidder behavior (how much they bid and when they bid) in secondary market auctions for used/returned electronic merchandise, the role of ambiguity and risk in a retailer’s selection of product assortment in retail settings, and interaction and influence of decision support tools on operations decision of employees using such tools (such as pricing). Her current areas of application include online markets for the fashion sharing economy, online markets for excess inventory, energy markets and the retail sector. Prior to joining the Smith School, she was on the faculty of the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and NYU Stern School of Business in the Operations Management group.

Kathleen  McLaughlin

Chief Sustainability Officer at Walmart and President of the Walmart Foundation

Kathleen is responsible for programs that help Walmart create economic opportunity through jobs and sourcing; enhance the sustainability of food, apparel and general merchandise supply chains; and strengthen the resilience of local communities. Through business initiatives and philanthropy, her teams work with Walmart associates, suppliers, nonprofit organizations and others to drive significant and lasting improvements to economic, social and environmental systems. Last year, the company awarded more than $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind donations, including $1 billion of food donations. Before joining Walmart in 2013, she spent more than 20 years with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Kathleen serves on the board of the Council on Foundations and is a member of CECP’s Strategic Investor Initiative Advisory Board. Kathleen earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Boston University, as well as a master of arts in politics, philosophy and economics from Balliol College at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She also has a diploma in theology from Oxford. She is married with three children and divides her time between Bentonville, Arkansas, and Toronto, Ontario.

H. Scott Matthews

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

Scott is  a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.  He is also a member of the Green Design Institute, an interdisciplinary research consortium at Carnegie Mellon focused on modeling energy and environmental problems as systems, building decision support tools, and supporting robust policy decisions under uncertainty.  

Carrie Snyder

Former Director of closed loop supply chain for Cisco, presently a circular economy consultant

Carrie is the Founder of CSS Consulting, a circular economy consultancy, and an Instructor at Harvard Extension School, teaching "Introduction to the Circular Economy." During a multi-faceted 15-year career Cisco Systems, Snyder's roles related to "what happens to products after they are sold to customers?" To this end, Snyder developed extensive expertise in product take back and reuse. She helped transformed a USD$8M cost center into a USD$100M profit center through circular economy principles, and later on was the Director of a closed-loop supply chain and related program supporting over $1B in sales. Snyder brings her extensive business expertise and academic interests to help organizations advance the circular economy. 

Matthias Winkenbach

Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) at MIT & Director of the MIT MegacityLogisticsLab, Center for Transportation &  Logistics

Dr. Matthias Winkenbach is the Director of the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab and a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL). Together with his team, Dr. Winkenbach is working on quantitative and data-driven research in the field of urban logistics and last mile delivery. His lab is engaged in a variety of sponsored research projects with industry partners from around the world, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Coca-Cola Femsa, Walmart, B2W Digital, Flipkart, and Adidas, as well as public sector partners such as the World Bank, the US DOT and several city and regional governments. 


The event took place on the 3rd Floor Lounge, Bronfman Building, 1001 Sherbrooke Ouest

Friday, November 16, 2018

Time Activity/Speaker & Topic
1:30 - 2:00 pm Registration
2:05 - 2:15 pm

Opening Remarks

Dean Isabelle Bajeux, Desautels Faculty of Management
Professor Saibal Ray, Academic Director, Bensadoun School of Retail Management

2:20 pm

Opportunities and Challenges for Electronics in a Circular Economy

How to deal with end-of-life product takebacks in the electronics industry.

Carrie Snyder, Former Director of closed loop supply chain for Cisco, presently a circular economy consultant

2:50 pm

Walmart’s end-to-end approach to addressing food waste

Various sustainability initiatives in Walmart with special emphasis on what the company is doing in the context of sustainable food production, procurement and consumption.

Kathleen  McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer at Walmart and President of the Walmart Foundation

3:20 pm

The Energy Use and Environmental Impacts of Retail and Delivery Options

Historical and recent studies of the overall lifecycle, energy use and environmental impacts of buying and delivering goods.

H. Scott Matthews, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

3:50 Coffee Break
4:10 pm

A Market Design Perspective to Address Waste in Electronics and Fast Fashion

How markets places can be formed and used for more effective trade of used products from electronics and (fast)fashion sectors.

Wedad  Elmaghraby, Professor, University of Maryland

4:40 pm

Sustainable Last-Mile Logistics in Global Megacities 

The environmental and urban planning issues related to last-mile delivery, an aspect of growing importance in retailing.

Matthias Winkenbach, Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) at MIT & Director of the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab, Center for Transportation & Logistics

5:10 pm

Fostering Innovation in Retail in the Context of the Circular Economy

Various initiatives that Canadian Tire has for more sustainable store operations and circular economy as it relates to durable goods. (ex: tires)

Robyn Collver, Senior Vice-President, Risk and Regulatory Affairs, for Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited 

5:40 - 7:30 pm Cocktail with Global Retail Challenge Participants

Hosted in collaboration with TISED.


Global Retail Challenge Partners

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)

Retail Innovation Center (RIL)

McGill University

Bensadoun School of Retail Management

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