From education to employment

Retail managers of the future showcase knowledge and ideas to industry leaders

Leaders from well-known brands put University of Chester students through their paces to test their knowledge and ideas on the changing world of retail and help to set them on the next steps in their careers.

With retail and recruitment experts from major companies looking on, the retail managers of the future impressed as they completed a series of challenges, highlighting their learning, skills and innovation.

Final year Retail Management students at the University’s Business School were recently given the opportunity to experience the assessment centres at the University’s Queen’s Park site, as their final assessment in the subject.

More than 60 students took part, being examined on their understanding of contemporary and strategic retailing principles before they embark on their graduate careers. In groups, they presented their research to a panel of six industry guests, from a total of 16 who supported the events, alongside Business School lecturers.

The students critically analysed a top retailer of their choice and, on the day, they presented this research to the panel, answered individual ‘interview’ questions and completed the day’s activities with an observed group exercise.

Topics of discussion included changes in retail and its post-pandemic 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 panels brought together senior representatives from: Amazon; Liverpool ONE; McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks; Enterprise; Iceland; McCarthy Recruitment, and Retail Top N Tail consultants, who all supported the exercise to provide the candidates with authentic employer feedback.

The Chester Business School Retail Management Assessment Centres were organised by Lisa Conway, Module Leader for Retail Management, with the support and involvement of colleagues from the Business School and Student Futures – the University’s Careers and Employability service.

Business Management student Elena Pedersen, who is from Norway, said:

“The assessment centre was an amazing learning opportunity, and you could tell that the panellists were rooting for you to do well. We got the opportunity to showcase our strengths and critical analysis through presenting and answering questions as well as our leadership, teamwork and critical thinking skills through the group exercise.

“Retail Management was a refreshing module with a great mix of academic learning combined with real-life retail managers as guest speakers, and trips to different kinds of retail operations.”

Sam Merrick, one of the members of the McArthur Glen management team at Cheshire Oaks, said:

“We were delighted to be asked to take part in the University of Chester Business School Retail Management Assessment Centres, engaging with other businesses on the panel, providing advice and sharing industry insights with retail managers of the future. We particularly enjoyed hearing about the students’ recommendations on how to continue to grow the retail sector and understand more about their learning. We are looking forward to continuing to partner with the University and their students.”

Lisa Conway, Senior Lecturer in Business and Management for the Business School, said:

“I am tremendously grateful for the support and expertise of so many excellent retail and recruitment specialists who give their time to share their insights with our students. It is very helpful for these soon-to-be graduates to receive direct feedback from these retailing role models.”

She continued: “The team and I have been really impressed with how students embraced this challenge to showcase both their academic and professional skills to our esteemed panels of experts.”

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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