Terry J. Lundgren Center prepares for Global Retailing Conference
Arizona Daily Wildcat file photo
The UA Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing held the 16th annual Retailing Conference last year in April. The 17th annual conference will take place Thursday and Friday.
The UA Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing is preparing for the 17th annual Global Retailing Conference this week.
The center will hold its conference this Thursday and Friday at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and Spa. Named one of the 11 “Must Attend Retail Events of 2013” in North America by 360pi, a retail price intelligence solutions company, the conference will focus on retailing trends and strategies and ways brands engage customers.
“This kind of event really kind of underscores the importance of what we’re doing here in the retailing program, as well as in the Norton School,” said Kimberley Brooke, assistant director of marketing and communications in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. “It gives us an opportunity to highlight what we do and to again bring focus to the university.”
The GRC, which targets retail and business professionals, faculty and students, has boasted headlining speakers such as Martha Stewart, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang in the past.
This year, the names of those taking the stage include Tory Burch, Terry J. Lundgren, the center’s namesake, and associate UA professor Anita Bhuppa. The event also includes executives from companies such as Sony, Facebook and Walmart.
While separate conferences may have a “similar level” of headlining prominence, the GRC is distinct because of its intimate size, said Martha Van Gelder, director of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing.
“A lot of conferences have similar levels but there are 20,000 people,” Van Gelder said. “But this is pretty unique, that we have about 300-plus students.”
Due to the changing use of omni-channel shopping through cell phones, the Internet and TV, this year’s theme, “Accelerate Your Brand — Get Ahead of Your Shopper,” is important due to its relevance in numerous industries, she added.
While registration has closed for students interested in attending the event, for those who signed up, the event is an opportunity to supplement the classroom learning experience, said Abra McAndrew, assistant director for student leadership and development at the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing. Furthermore, it proves an opportunity to “be a fly on the wall” in learning to understand business executives’ demeanor, she added.
“They really know how to engage entire work forces,” Van Gelder said about what students will learn at the conference. “It’s not just all about them. Retailers today can not just sit in their ivory tower and make all the decisions. The shift in retail has moved from the corporate office to the selling floor.”
Aspects recruiters want students to take away from the conference include the importance of leadership, critical thinking, problem solving and self-awareness, McAndrew said. The goal is to prepare students for their future careers.
“Our interest always is to bring the industry and academia together to prepare students for the workforce,” Van Gelder said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been doing for 17 years, and I think we’re getting better at it every year.”