From education to employment

Retail and recruitment role models commend students in future-focused challenge

Retail experts from the University of Chester (@uochester), big brands and independent companies applauded the knowledge and skills of students from its Business School after putting them through their paces in a series of challenges.

Final year Retail Management students at Chester Business School were given the opportunity, recently, to experience an assessment centre exercise at Queen’s Park. 

With retail and recruitment leaders looking on, the retail managers of the future impressed as they completed the exercise, highlighting their learning, skills and innovation.

More than 50 students took part, being examined on their understanding of contemporary and strategic retailing principles before they embark on their graduate careers.

In groups, the students critically analysed a top retailer of their choice and, on the day, they presented this research to the panel of industry guests and Business School lecturers, answered individual ‘interview’ questions and completed the day’s activities with an observed group problem-solving task.

Topics of discussion included changes in retail and its future, the importance of customer experience, responsibilities of ethical and sustainable sourcing of goods, the impact of emerging technologies, and trends that respond to new shopping habits and expectations.

The assessment panel brought together senior representatives from: Marks and Spencer; McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks; Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Matalan, and an independent retail consultant, who all supported the exercise to provide the candidates with authentic employer feedback.

The Chester Business School Retail Management Assessment Centre was organised by Lisa Conway, Deputy Head of Management and Module Leader for Retail Management, with the support and involvement of colleagues from the Business School and the University’s Careers and Employability service.

Student Rebecca Hughes said:

“This module was very insightful and gave us the chance to dive into the world of retail. It was helpful to be able to visit large companies around the area to gain a real insight into topics learnt. The assessment panel was a good way to experience what it could be like in a real-life scenario and prepare us for future assessment centres when applying for graduate roles.”

Kathryn Hand, Customer Service Lead for Marks and Spencer, added:

“It was a privilege to be involved in the assessment centre and hear directly from the final year students. I was extremely impressed by the retail knowledge demonstrated throughout the presentations and enjoyed seeing the students apply their learning and share their views on the retailers they chose to study. It is great to see talented students looking to start their careers with such a passion and enthusiasm for retail.”

Lisa Conway explained that the exercise was designed to prepare students for applying for graduate roles, as well as assess the application of their retail knowledge.

She continued: “I am extremely grateful for the expertise of so many retail and recruitment specialists who have given their time to listen, support, and share insights, feedback and advice with our soon-to-be graduates, which is invaluable as they take their next steps.

“We were hugely impressed with how students embraced this challenge to showcase both their academic and professional skills to our panel, their peers and themselves – to know they can go into interviews and the workplace with confidence and experience.”

Retail Management is a final year module that is taken by Business School students studying a range of different degree programmes including Business Management and International Business Management.

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