• School of Retailing

What I Wish I'd Known About Retail - Retail Lifestyle Panel

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Written by: Josh Radostits



"Welcome to the Retail Apocalypse"

- every business blog when Sears closed


"What's the craziest thing I've done for money? Worked in retail."

- every student ever


"This isn't a real job, I'm just desperate for money."

- me when I got my first job in retail




The comments above are just a sample of the mass amounts of misinformation out there surrounding the retail world. But if retail is doomed, then why are some of the most innovative and fastest-growing companies in the retail industry? And if retail is so bad, then why are over 100 industry leaders attending our Reality of Retail event just to convince you that retail is awesome? Well it's because there is so much more to retail than you think. I'm just as guilty as any other student for thinking retail wasn't a legit career option like finance or marketing. But as I begin to peel back the layers of this dynamic and fast paced industry, I become more fascinated with the opportunities available to students like me.


So if you want to get a head-start locking down a fulfilling and lucrative career in retail, our retail lifestyle panel has some juicy insight on retail that they wish they would've known as a student in your position. If you want to hear more from the retail lifestyle panel, they will be answering any question you might have about retail in a roundtable format at the Reality of Retail event on November 21st, 2019. Get your tickets here now!


What I Wish I'd Known About Retail:


Laura Smythe | Director | Tiffany & CO Edmonton


"I wish I never believed the stigma that surrounds careers in retail! Starting out in retail I saw it as a temporary job for while I was in school and I had every intention of getting a ‘real job’ once I graduated. I wish I had known the endless opportunities that would present themselves to me throughout my career and how truly multifaceted retail is as an industry. For me, retail was a job that I fell into and stayed in it because I loved what I was doing. Unfortunately, the reality is there are many students who will never purposely choose retail because they don’t understand how lucrative it can be as a career and I am on a mission to change that perspective."


Vanessa Julio | Marketing Manager | Londonderry Mall


“Going into my position as a bright-eyed, innocent little graduate, straight off the stage from getting my degree, there are definitely a few things I wish someone would have enlightened me about. One thing would be how tough the retail landscape in Alberta is right now. The effects of the recession hit shopping centres hard. I witnessed it firsthand. That, mixed with the immense rise in online shopping, has left mall marketing managers scratching their heads wondering how to get people through the doors. Brick and mortar is not dead, but what customers want from it sure has changed. Now, what’s the solution? What do they want? That’s the million-dollar question we’re all trying to figure out. I think a big part of it is giving shoppers a reason to get up off their couch, put away the iPad, get ready and go out to shop. And that’s done through creating experiences. I feel that if someone had told me, going into this job, ‘Vanessa, your golden ticket to success is to give your target market a reason to get out of their PJs and shop with you’, I would have had a lot more success earlier on. I’ve learned that if there is something a customer can take away as a memory, they will come back. When in doubt, create a lasting positive experience.”


Eric Slatter | Partner | Omada Commerical


“I wish I had known how multifaceted, dynamic, and sophisticated it is. Anytime you walk into a store or restaurant as a customer you take for granted the complexity of any operation. From customer service to product offering, to store design, to location selection, there are thousands of decisions that have gone into any business. It is easy to underestimate the layers that must go into a rewarding customer experience. Working in this industry has been an amazing opportunity to play a meaningful role in an industry that shapes our communities and our city.”


Jamie Bay | Chief of Staff | Customer Experience | ATB Financial


"Working in retail is a fast and ever-changing industry. I'm challenged to learn every single day on how we can stay competitive to keep up with best practices, incorporate automation into our work, and continuously adjust accordingly as we maneuver in an Agile environment (versus traditional 'waterfall'). There's always plenty of competition in retail so you need to be HUNGRY to learn more and lean into uncomfortable situations that will help you grow, every single day. I also wish I knew how exciting it was to get to impact ONE company in a big way. I had a feeling in my gut that I wanted to be able to make a big difference working for a brand, rather than in an agency world where you have a small voice for a lot of brands, and that gut feeling was right. I can see the impact my work has had as we progress at ATB, and that makes me incredibly fulfilled."


Roman Drohomirecki | Executive VP and COO of Retail | Ivanhoe Cambridge


"I wish I had known the roles and responsibilities I would hold in my Retail Real Estate career would be as multi faceted, challenging, engaging and rewarding as I have discovered them to be.  Had I known that in 1985, I wouldn’t have spent as much time in Rutherford preparing for my LSAT.”

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