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 a little bit about what stood out to about the McGill MMR program. What was the driving force behind you ultimately applying and then accepting an offer?
I knew that I was interested in retail, I've always been interested in kind of the fashion and beauty sectors and really want to explore that deeper. I'm also not a creative type, I'm definitely more business and management focused. I was looking at business degrees and happened to come across the MMR program and realized that I could get a degree in management that really focused on what my actual interests were. Instead of taking general classes, I could really hone in on those skills that would be important for the industry that I knew that I wanted to go into. That was really the driving factor in me starting to research the program. What really drew me in was the overall definition of retail that was presented. It really resonated with me how broadly retail was being discussed. I really wanted to go somewhere that would expand my view of retail and expand my knowledge of the industry. Getting to hear Dr. Yu Ma, as well as the other people involved in the program talk about how broad retail is and how it really touches every sector of the economy, as well as the transformations in retail, and how much the program was going to focus on retail in the future and not just traditional brick and mortar retail - that's what really pushed me to choose this program.
Now that you've completed this first semester, what are your feelings about the program and the curriculum so far?
It's been really interesting! I think what I really like is that there is both a qualitative and quantitative side to the program. I came in very much qualitative, I'm not necessarily a numbers guy but learning these kinds of analytics is so crucial, especially in retail. It's necessary to, even if I'm not doing the coding, understand what the people doing the coding are doing. I really appreciated the fact that the curriculum gives that focus to both sides - the things that I'm interested in and what I want my career to look like, as well as the things I'm going to need to understand in order to actually advance my career.
In the second half of the semester there will be more of an experiential component, but what are some of the ways you’ve been able to apply what’s been taught in the classroom so far?
One of the great things about the program is having access to the entire Desautels community and this past semester I participated in a consulting project with Thinkr, McGill’s nonprofit consulting group, along with a group of MBAs. We looked at marketing for local Montreal Museum and it was a really great way to explore consulting, which is something that I'm interested in, integrate with the rest of the school community, as well as kind of get that hands on experience working with clients. It was a really exciting opportunity.
Part of the next experiential component is a retail innovation project in collaboration with a corporate partner. What are you most looking forward to with respect to that?
I’m really excited to get into an actual retail project. I personally don't have retail work experience - I have a two-month internship, but I don't really have a retail background. I'm looking forward to applying the curriculum that I've learned to a real-world scenario, but I'm also just excited to explore a retail firm, especially in an industry that I might not go into for a career. Gaining that insight from other aspects of retail is something that's really cool. Then, just getting to see what those jobs look like and what people actually do and talk about, that's something that's just going to be super valuable.
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?
It's amazing. The guest speakers are truly wonderful. First of all, most of them are very willing to help out and answer questions even beyond the actual talk itself, which has been super helpful to help build my personal network. It's also amazing to hear what these people have done and what they're currently doing—so, seeing what kind of a traditional or even nontraditional career path within retail might look like, across a wide array of sectors and industries, as well as seeing what innovations are actually being put into place. Getting a sneak peek behind the curtain at some of these top companies has been absolutely amazing to understand where retail is really going. To understand where retail is going in the future, and really getting to hear that from a first-person perspective from the people who are not only implementing, but also coming up with these ideas is really exciting. I know it's been difficult with COVID and of course, there's technical technological issues that might arise but overall, it's been going very smoothly and the quality of speakers even in this crazy time, has been amazing.
What has been your favourite part of the program so far?
It may sound cliché, but definitely the people. What I really like about the program is that it's a small group of individuals. I know that that was something very deliberately done and so we've really had the opportunity to integrate as a class and really get to know each other well, which has been very helpful. It's a management program so of course, there's a lot of hands-on group project work going on and really creating those close relationships with my classmates, it's been a wonderful time now and I also know that it's going to be helpful in the long term, because these are going to be the leaders in retail.
On a forward-looking basis, how was the program sort of shaped your vision for your career and how do you think it's going to help launch you into that space?
I think [my view of retail] has broadened. As I said, coming in I was very much into fashion and beauty and those are still definitely my interest areas. But, going through some of these classes, especially our foundation class where we got to explore a bunch of different industries, really opened me up to the other opportunities within retail, and really allowed me to understand that there's a lot of really cool work being done across different types of retail. I think that that's been a really great thing for me, really going into this program and allowing myself to go off course a little bit and talk to the career services people. They’ve been introducing so many different types of companies to us and so have the professor's coming from their different backgrounds and bringing in their own guest speakers who they have relationships with. In terms of launching, I think the program has so much support in terms of career services and in general, everyone wants to help us gain those connections, help us gain those relationships and help us apply the skills that we're learning to these actual businesses and these actual companies in the future. I think the program really is doing a wonderful job in supporting us that way. In terms of the skills that I'm learning, both hard and soft skills throughout the program are going to be helpful regardless of what I end up going into.
- Attend an upcoming information session to learn more about the MMR program