MMR Student Testimonial: Maria Shirokov

The McGill-Bensadoun School Master of Management in Retailing (MMR) degree is a 16-month specialized program (12 months for those with extensive retail experience) to prepare future leaders in the ever-evolving field of retail with a strong emphasis on experiential learning.


 

Tell me about what stood out to you about the McGill MMR when you first came across it, and what was sort of the driving force behind you applying and deciding to attend?

I graduated from the retail management program at Ryerson in 2020, so I've always been really interested in retail. I heard about this program while I was in my third or fourth year of university, so just when the program and the school was in the process of being built and I was really interested at that point. The main thing that really attracted me to the program was, first of all, that it was retail focused and also that it was a non-thesis program. I'm not particularly a research person, I like more of an experiential aspect, so that really stood out to me. Later on, I'd like to pursue a global career. I know that McGill is a highly international university, so that was also really important to me and something that definitely stood out to me when choosing a retail program. Also, the small class sizes, the fact that there's only 32 of us was an important factor, knowing that in every class the professors get to know you and you get to know the students and everyone that you're in the program with.

Now that you've completed your first semester, how are you feeling about the program and the curriculum?

I think it's a really good balance of both qualitative and quantitative skills. Last semester we had a course about R (a programming language), and we used Python in another course, however I didn't have any experience in coding before. It’s also balanced out with qualitative courses. I think that the professors are also really great with tons of experience, and they really care about their students. Particularly, because it's a small size, you really get to know them, and they get to know you. I’ve been really fond of the curriculum, and I'm enjoying it presently.

Part of the second half of the program is the experiential component, where you get to work with a company on a major project. What are some of the things that you're most looking forward to about this opportunity?

I'm really looking forward to that, working in small groups and also working on a particular project. I've had industry experience in my undergrad working with retailers, and I really enjoyed it. I think it's a really applicable project that you can put on your resume but is also applicable to working life [once you land a role].

The Bensadoun School of Retail Management and the MMR’s program director, Anwar White, have done a really excellent job of lining up guest speakers for your cohort. What does it mean to you to be able to have this opportunity to learn from experts who are in the industry?

I think it's a great opportunity. It's not every day that you get to listen to these very successful retail leaders, and just having the opportunity to listen to their experience and their career path and what they've done is very motivating, knowing that you're in the program and this is the path that you want to take. It's been great to gain knowledge and insight and advice for the industry later on. I actually had the opportunity to interview the first guest speaker, the CEO of IKEA Canada [Michael Ward]. That was a really special experience and definitely something that doesn't happen if you're not in a program like this.

What has been your favourite part about the program up to this point?

I'd say the people in the program. Since it's a very international program with lots of international students, it’s been really great learning about people's backgrounds and their different perspectives. I think that makes the class discussions that much more interesting. Everyone comes from a different perspective. It’s great learning about all my friends in the program and because it's such a small class size, you get to work with different people and really get to know them and build a relationship. That’s really important, especially in a business program and is something I really cherish.

Coming out of one retail program into this one, has your definition of the scope of retail or what the industry looks like has changed or shifted at all?

From my experience at Ryerson, the retail industry in general is even hard to explain to people that aren't in the program because retail is basically everything that's everywhere. I wouldn't say my view has changed so much as the more I learn about it, the more that I can see. There are so many opportunities, and there's so much that you can learn in this industry, but it’s definitely growing, and especially with the changes in the pandemic. It's a very interesting industry to be in right now.

Did you come into the program with a specific career goal in mind?

I'd like to work in corporate retail, particularly in the beauty industry. I know that McGill has connections with lots of employers in Montreal in Canada, especially through alumni. I’d like to work at L'Oreal one day, and they have their office in Montreal. It’s been good to talk to people that have worked there previously and past alumni, to get advice on how to really get into this industry and pursue my career goals.

And how do you see what you’re learning here in the program being applicable to that career, or to any career in the field of retail?

Everything that we've been learning so far in the program is definitely going to be applicable in the retail industry, for sure. Even last semester, in one of our classes for coding, at the end of the semester [the professor] went through LinkedIn posts of jobs that are looking for specific skills in data analytics. Knowing that the professors are doing their own research on the side to prepare us is nice, and it’s good to know that when we come out of the program will be prepared and have the skills that employers are currently looking for.


MMR Program

Learn more about the McGill Master of Management in Retailing Program

 

bensadoun-school

The Future of Retail

The MMR program has been made possible thanks to generous donations from Aldo Bensadoun and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management.

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