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A woman carrying a Zara shopping bag walks past people holding H&M shopping bags. (SUSANA VERA/REUTERS)
A woman carrying a Zara shopping bag walks past people holding H&M shopping bags. (SUSANA VERA/REUTERS)

Business School News

Innovation in retailing centre opens at Sobey School of Business Add to ...

The Globe’s biweekly business-school news roundup.

The dramatic retreat by Target Canada, the demise of several name-brand chains and the low-flying loonie have shaken up the Canadian retail landscape in recent months.

Amid the turbulence, one business school sees an opportunity to shape the future of retail management.

This month, the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services opened at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax with ambitions to be a “leading source” of expertise on retail and service management. David Sobey contributed $3-million toward the centre, according to the university.

“We looked at the importance of the sector, what our strengths are and where we might be able to contribute,” says centre director Ramesh Venkat, a professor of marketing at Saint Mary’s. “We thought there was a natural fit there.”

He says he expects the new centre in Halifax will complement established retail programs at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management and the University of Alberta School of Business. “We share some of the same goals and we are in different regions [of the country] so we are not directly competing for each other’s students,” he says.

Prof. Venkat says the Sobey centre aims to produce industry-relevant research (in addition to work published in academic journals), with eight faculty projects so far on topics ranging from the customer check-out experience to small-business staff recruitment.

Under a memorandum of agreement signed with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, one of the largest retailers in the province, the centre’s researchers will conduct studies in the agency’s retail outlets.

For students, the centre recently held an inaugural live case competition that challenged teams of fourth-year undergraduates to solve real problems posed by three local retailers. As well, a new undergraduate specialization in retail management is under development, possibly for September, 2016.

Prof. Venkat is eager for the centre to make its mark.

“The hope is that our research would improve outcomes for the sector as a whole, improve business practices and help them [retailers] innovate and improve what they are doing, so they have better outcomes and a strong future for Canadian retailing,” he says. “If we can make a small contribution towards that, we would have achieved our goals.”

Hult Prize: And then there was one (from Canada)

A student team from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is the last remaining representative from Canada for the prestigious $1-million Hult Prize for sustainable social enterprise.

The four-person team from Rotman won the regional final in Dubai earlier this month for their proposal for “Talking Stickers,” which uses low-cost technology to improve the language skills of low-income children around the world.

This year’s Hult Prize, to be awarded at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York this September, asked for proposals for sustainable enterprises that address the education needs of those up to six years of age.

Nine Canadian teams made it to the regional finals held in five locations around the world.

The Rotman team and the five other finalists topped more than 20,000 teams who entered the competition.

Ontario business school adds dual degrees

The option to study and work at home and abroad – and earn two degrees in the process – has proven popular with undergraduate students at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business.

This week, the school announced plans to expand its offering of dual degrees (with co-op work experience included) this September, with new partnerships signed with counterparts in France and Ireland.

“The attraction of having a very solid international experience in your undergrad and having that recognized with a dual degree is something that has a lot of resonance,” says Goodman dean Don Cyr, whose school is located in Ontario’s wine-growing Niagara region.

In 2008, Goodman signed a dual degree partnership with EBS Business School, in the Rheingau wine region of southwest Germany. More than 300 Goodman students apply for 20 spots, with a similar number coming from EBS to Brock.

“We needed to expand because of the demand,” says Dr. Cyr, of this week’s announcement.

This fall, incoming undergraduate business students can compete for the chance to attend the NEOMA Business School of France (with one campus in the champagne region of Reims) and Ireland’s Dublin City University. For 2015-16, only five spaces are available at each location.

For the dual degree, a Goodman student spends the first 2.5 years in St. Catharines, the next 18 months abroad and then returns home to wrap up the Bachelor of Business Degree (while earning a comparable degree from the overseas school).

Tuition is the same as for an undergraduate business degree: $8,436 a year for domestic students and $22,458 for international students.

Fast-track option for future management consultants

The Canadian Association of Management Consultants has established partnerships with several business schools to count certain MBA classes for qualifications required for the Certified Management Consultant designation.

Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business is the latest institution to announce an agreement with the national organization that provides for an expedited route to a career as a management consultant.

Under the agreement, current and recent alumni of Beedie’s full-time, part-time and executive MBA, as well as Management of Technology MBA, programs can count some of their courses towards the 3,600 hours of consulting experience required for the CMC designation, according to a Beedie press release.

The agreement also includes an offer of a discounted membership rate with CMC-Canada and access for Beedie students to experienced industry consultants for career panels and mentorship.

CMC-Canada already has a similar relationship with five other schools: Sobey School of Business at St. Mary’s University; Royal Roads University School of Business; University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management; University of Alberta School of Business; and the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology Centre at the University of Waterloo.

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net

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