The Retail Industry
Leaders Association

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is for retailers that have earned leadership status by virtue of their sales volume, innovation or aspiration. We convene decision-makers, advocate for the industry, and promote innovation.
Our aim: To envision the future of retail— and equip leading retailers to succeed in it.

RILA’s Retail Innovation Centers mission is to equip leading retailers to navigate transformation through innovation and reorient the innovation ecosystem toward retail needs. It does so by addressing four industry-wide innovations challenges – prioritizing, funding, talent and culture – by connecting retailers to innovators, fostering innovation inside retailers, and burnishing the reputation for retail with innovation hubs, talent, and policymakers

McGill University and
the Bensadoun School of
Retail Management


Situated in Montreal, the Best Student City according to the 2017 QS rankings, McGill University is one of Canada's best-known institutions of higher learning and one of the leading universities in the world. With students coming to McGill from some 150 countries, its student body is the most internationally diverse of any research-intensive university in the country. 

Coming at a time of monumental change in the retail industry, a major gift from the Bensadoun Family Foundation has led to the creation of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. The School aims to be the world premier academic institution dedicated to the future of retail - building on the global reputation of the Faculty of Management and leveraging McGill’s deep multi-disciplinary expertise in domains like artificial intelligence, big data, neuroscience and agroindustry, an important focus of the work of the school will be on enabling sustainable consumption and healthier societies. 


“Through our new Bensadoun School of Retail Management, we have the opportunity to partner with organizations such as RILA to tackle the pressing issues surrounding retail and Grand Challenges facing our societies. The Global Retail Challenge exposes students to one of these Grand Challenges: sustainability and the circular economy. Teams will be equipped to find innovative solutions that could lead to new entrepreneurial ventures. This competition will showcase the future of retail from the next generation of industry leaders.”

Dean Isabelle Bajeux
Desautels Faculty of Management
McGill University

Karen Hold

Karen Hold is a design strategist who specializes in building creative capacity in individuals, organizations and cities. She thrives on helping her clients innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing competitive landscape. Karen has extensive industry experience across many sectors including telecommunications, consumer packaged goods, publishing, non-profits and education.

A P&G-trained brand marketer, Karen saw firsthand how P&G drove revenue and profit growth with innovation. Inspired by her experience, Karen founded her own small business, a publishing company, and built sales through innovative marketing partnerships with Forbes and BusinessWeek magazines.

As the Publisher, Karen successfully shared the business results of clients in the financial, healthcare, arts, government, education, telecommunications, high-tech, entertainment and non-profit markets. Her clients included AT&T, Alcatel, Cisco, MCI, Nokia, Nortel Networks and NEC.

Design strategy allows Karen to create value at the intersection of her passions for storytelling, innovation, strategy and design. Karen is a graduate of Duke University and Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. She is the Director of DT:DC, a 4,500-member MeetUp group in Washington, DC, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland and a Visiting Executive Lecturer at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.




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