Retail Thought Leaders Series

The Retail Thought Leader Series provides an interactive opportunity for students, faculty and industry leaders to gain valuable insights about current and upcoming trends in retail from academic and industry experts.

Past Events

Dr. Ahmet Kuyumcu

Founder & CEO at Prorize

Friday, March 31, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST


Dr. Ahmet KuyumcuAhmet Kuyumcu founded Prorize with the vision of building dynamic pricing solutions that will help global companies manage their prices effectively and achieve sustained revenue growth. Ahmet spearheaded the pricing solution that won the 2017 Franz Edelman Award. He has built end-to-end RM systems across various industries, including hotels, gaming resorts, airlines, self-storage, apartments, senior housing, automotive, distribution, telecommunication, high-tech manufacturing, broadcasting, and online retailing. Previously Chief Scientist at Zilliant, Ahmet pioneered price optimization algorithms for Zilliant’s product suite from scratch. He also taught graduate-level courses in pricing and RM at the University of Texas at Austin and the Indian School of Business. Ahmet has authored and published several articles in professional journals and presented dozens of technical articles at conferences and worldwide. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Operations Research from Texas A&M University.

How Revenue Management is Transforming Rent-Driven Industries

Revenue Management (RM) is a new frontier for rent-driven industries such as multi-family housing (apartment), self-storage, and senior housing. These industries share some of the same challenges: They have meaningful supply constraints, highly seasonal demand, and uncertain lengths of stay. They also practice many incentives and promotions, and existing customer rate increases must be optimized.

Ahmet Kuyumcu’s presentation will highlight RM challenges and opportunities for rent-driven industries, and he will discuss their similarities and differences. He will then detail how the self-storage industry is adapting to the solution framework, which has been actively used by dozens of large owners and operators worldwide. This RM solution won the 2017 Franz Edelman Award, the world’s most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of advanced analytics and operations research.

Robert Greening

President, TJX Canada (Winners, HomeSense, Marshalls)

Friday, March 31, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST


Robert GreeningRobert Greening has a rich retail background with diverse management and principal roles. Prior to his current roles as President, TJX Canada, he was Senior Vice-President for Macy’s and Vice-President for Neiman Marcus. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Mr. Greening has extensive experience building and leading teams through high growth and turnaround environments with a focus on: merchandising, marketing, product development, global sourcing, off-price apparel, multi-channel development, customer service, and luxury businesses. He has also operated successfully in the Private Equity retail sector and as a Board Director.

Minha Hwang

Principal Architect at Microsoft

Friday, February 3, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST


Minha HwangA marketing data scientist and causal inference expert, Minha Hwang is currently a Principal Architect at Microsoft. Minha holds a double PhD in marketing science/materials science & engineering and is a former staff engineer & architect at McKinsey and a former Assistant Professor in Marketing at McGill University.


Minha Hwang shared his knowledge on applied causal inference in tech industries and data science consulting. Specifically, Minha focused on the following topics:

Increasing online experimentation agility

Abstract: For data-driven decision-making, A/B testing is used as a gold standard to quantify the impact of product or service changes on users. Oftentimes, the key goal metric such as user engagement or user retention is not very sensitive, which greatly challenges experimentation agility. I will discuss two different ways to increase online metric sensitivity: (1) data-driven proxy metric development, and (2) machine learning-based variance reduction methods. These methods or alternative metrics allow firms to reduce traffic requirements and run more experiments.

Promotion ROI measurements and promotion counterfactual simulation app building

Abstract: Promotion is a big spending item for consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies and retailers. CPG companies invest ~20% of their revenue in trade promotion. 59% of promotions lost money (72% in the U.S.) Best-in-class CPG promotions returned 5 times more than the least efficient. I will describe how causal demand modeling based on POS data can help retailers and CPG manufacturers to measure promotion ROI and incremental profits from past promotions. This model also provides the foundation for promotion simulators for promotion planning and promotion optimization.

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