Spring 2019 Newsletter

Happy summer!

As I write this in early May I'm finally feeling pretty certain we are done with snow for the year. Campus is really beautiful and there is a renewal of energy and optimism. It is a special time of year.
Our seniors are preparing for their next grand adventure. And as I meet with them I see their appreciation for all that the opportunities they have had here on campus along with the excitement they have about starting their careers. This years graduating class has set an amazing example for the students coming up behind them. I will certainly miss them but will enjoy getting updates as they march to their futures.
As always I want to thank the many supporters of the Kohl's Center for Retailing. Thanks to you, our students get unsurpassed opportunities to:
  • Engage with leaders
  • Visit industry headquarters
  • Attend Conferences
  • Study abroad
  • Compete in Case Studies
  • And engage with faculty and staff that are incredibly dedicated to their success 
It is a real honor to be the director of the Center, work with our partners and to mentor our students. None of this could be possible without your support.

Thank you,

Jerry O'Brien
Executive Director
Kohl's Center for Retailing
School of Human Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Were you inspired by an instructor, participated in a case competition, traveled to a conference, had in internship, engaged with the Student Retail Association, or discovered a new path in the retailing industry?
The annual fund supports student life and learning experiences- from scholarships to small-group mentoring to career counseling, the fund provides vital and and immediate support to take advantage of "just in time" opportunities for students. 

When you give to the SoHE annual fund you are a part of something bigger than ever imagined- you are joining a community of Badgers just like you who say  yes, I believe in the School of Human Ecology and I cant wait to see what the next generation can do! 

Spotlight: Graduating Seniors

Randi Armstrong  Senior, Retailing & Consumer Behavior, Certificate in Entrepreneurship
Connect with Randi on LinkedIn!
"Over the past two years I have had the humbling opportunity to fully experience SoHE, the RCB major, and the Retailing Center for Excellence as both a student and employee. It has been very rewarding to make the transition from menthe to mento r over the past four years while serving as a leader within SRA, and employee at the Center."  

Here is a Recap of Randi's time at UW!

Leadership: Student Retail Association: VP of Business Development, Pi Beta Phi, Vice President of Housing and Facilities, Center for Retailing: Assistant & Case Competition Coordinator 

Recent Awards: YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Recipient, and NRF Rising Star 

Full Time Job Offer: Assistant Buyer, Burlington Stores Buying Office, NYC

William Sanford Senior, Retailing & Consumer Behavior
Connect with William on LinkedIn!
Joining the Retailing & Consumer Behavior program here at UW has provided me with networking 
opportunities, I
field trips
, and a broader understanding of the global marketplace.

Two classes  that have helped me the most are Consumer Behavior and Consuming Happiness because they provided me fine-tuned details of what decisions go into daily purchasing habits

After graduation , I will be moving to Saxony, Germany on a Fulbright English Teaching Award. In the classroom, I will share my insight of American culture, trends, and lifestyle.

My advice  to students is to intentionally search for extra-curricular opportunities. My senior position on the management board of Student Retail Association (SRA), came after joining the club as a general member my junior year!

Don't hesitate 
to ask for advice when you need it to find internships, careers, or other opportunities. The Kohl's Center for Retailing and all your retail professors are all willing to help you succeed whatever your future endeavors may be.

Meet Connie Wald
Fall 2019 Alumni Executive in Residence

Connie's background includes marketing, CRM, database management, product development, new product introductions, advertising, promotion and merchandising. She has worked for several Fortune 500 retailers, cosmetic manufacturers and advertising agencies. Most recently she has been a marketing and business consultant to smaller companies.
She spent eight years as Vice President of Marketing for Neiman Marcus leading development of revenue growth with new customer acquisitions, and strategies and dramatically increasing current customer spending. 

More about the Executive in Residence Program
Executives in Residence bring an energy and perspective to the School of Human Ecology that enhances classroom and experiential learning, and develops long-term relationships between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the retailing industry. The Executive in Residence's role relies on the strengths, interests, and experiences of the individual executive to influence the development of retail's future leaders and innovators.

Learn more about the program and how you could serve our students as a future Executive in Residence  here .

Alumni Spotlight 
Taylor Amann: Specialty Gift Buyer | Lifestyle and Fitness Model

Major at UW:  Retailing and Consumer Behavior | Certificate: Entrepreneurship
Current Role:  Specialty Gift Buyer at The University Book Store (UW) and Fitness Model at Sports + Lifestyle Unlimited 

What was your favorite part of Retailing and Consumer Behavior at UW-Madison and how did it help you prepare for the retailing industry?
"My favorite part was the numerous opportunities I was given to attend networking events and meet industry professionals. I have contacts today that I can feel comfortable reaching out to for career advice which came in handy when I was searching for full time positions for when I graduated. I am certain that these professionals are still willing to assist me even further  down the road if I am ever seeking new opportunities."

After being a UW student-athlete, you now are working in retail  as well as being very involved with American Ninja Warrior and fitness modeling. How have these experiences shaped your professional-personal life balance?  
Taylor was a 3 time Pole Vault Big Ten Champion
"The transition from being a collegiate athlete and student to being a full time employee was difficult for me early on. I was no longer being guided through workouts or lifts or receiving recognition for my academic performance. I decided that I needed to participate in something competitive again, so I started fitness modeling and training for American Ninja Warrior on the side. Training on the side has helped me shape and balance both my professional and personal life. I find that I am much happier and I work much better when I am busy. My drive has helped me in my career because retailing is constantly evolving and there are always new trends to be found. During my time so far being a buyer for The University Book Store, I have completely restructured the gift department, adding many new products and vendors into the mix. Some of these products/vendors include Love Your Melon, Ray Bans, CC Beanies and Champion branded apparel. I am astonished with how much I have learned about being a buyer in such a short period of time. After settling into my new lifestyle, I love how much responsibility I have every day and my influence on important decisions. I am also currently filming for American Ninja Warrior in a couple weeks, so stayed tuned and watch the episode when it airs!" 

What advice do you have for current Badgers in Retailing and  Consumer  Behavior?  
" Current Badgers in the Retail program, my first piece of advice is to put yourself out there. Networking is so crucial to making connections and you never know who you are going to meet and how much they can impact your life. Secondly, do not get discouraged when you get turned down or hear "no." Most likely it was not meant to be and there is something better for you down the road. Get back onto your feet and keep trying."

Connect with Taylor on LinkedIn 

Graduating Student Athlete: Michael Deiter
Michael was drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins!

You may have heard Michael Deiter (pictured on bottom-left), our Retailing and Consumer Behavior alumni,  name called during the NFL 2019 draft. 

Michael was drafted in the 3rd round by the Miami Dolphins and completed many academic and athletic accomplishments during his time at UW. Professor Nancy Murray joined Michael on the field last fall as a guest coach. 

Congratulations Michael and we wish you the best in the NFL!

New York Industry Trip and NRF Student Program
January 2019 | New York, NY

Early this spring, a group of 42 UW-Madison students experienced the retail industry in NYC!

This trip provided UW students with private tours at corporate offices and flagship stores such as Facebook and Macy's, access to the three day NRF Student Program, and designated time to explore NYC to familiarize themselves with their potential future home.

UW also had more than 10 students represented at the YMA FSF Gala or the NRF Gala on Scholarship. These students had extra networking opportunities earned from being finalists in case studies. 

Student Perspective: Arden Murphy 
Incoming Junior, Retailing and Consumer Behavior

Connect with Arden on LinkedIn!

"I am so happy that I was selected to be apart of the SRA's New York Industry Trip this past January. Meeting other students in the retail program from UW and other schools allowed me to grow my personal network and make many new friends. The National Retail Federation conference inspired me a lot and broadened my view of what I can accomplish in my career. The speakers were so passionate and helped fuel my excitement for the future. Attending the SRA New York Industry Trip showed me what I can accomplish in my career. Thank you to the many companies like Footlocker and Macy's that helped me recognize the opportunities available for retail students. Along with the great retail experience the trip provided me, I also received an internship offer on the trip from Danielle Nicole Handbags for this upcoming summer!"

Chicago Industry Trip and the International Home and Houseware Trade Show 
March 2019 | Chicago, IL

Every Spring the Student Retail Association is invited to the International Home and Housewares trade show in Chicago. This year was another amazing opportunity for SRA members interested in becoming buyers to observe a trade show within the retail industry. 

For the first year ever, SRA decided to make an industry trip out of the event. On the first day of the trip, the students attended an information session at Nike, and then visited the IH&H trade show on the following day. 

SRA members were able to visit Nike's regional corporate office in downtown Chicago. This office is predominantly used to connect with local Midwest buyers to allow them to see product in person and meet to discuss buying opportunities. The groups experience with Nike was outstanding. Nike brought in 5 employees to speak on a panel about their careers and what it is like to work for such an innovative and forward-thinking powerhouse brand. 

After exploring Chicago that evening, the group got up early the following morning and went to the International Home and Housewares Trade Show. In the morning, the IH&H had a student program for our University and a few others from the Midwest area. During the student program, we had the chance to participate in round table discussions with houseware industry professionals. This was a really great networking experience for students and helped them learn more about the housewares industry before exploring the trade show. After networking in the morning, students had full access to the trade show and spent the entire afternoon exploring the show. Many of the SRA members had the chance to interact with vendors. Two of our members, Ben Brandenburg and Logan Arthur, established a connection with Cupanion, a company that sells sustainable water bottles that give clean water to people in need, and are now brand ambassadors for the company! Overall, the Student Retail Association Chicago Industry Trip was amazing thanks to the student engagement and the experiences that we had a chance to take part in. 

Student Perspective: Camille Gorman 
Incoming Sophomore, Retailing and Consumer Behavior

Connect with Camille on LinkedIn!

"Being a new SRA member this semester, I didn't really know what to expect with attending my first industry trip.  I am so glad that I decided to attend because the experiences and knowledge that I have gained from this trip were so valuable.  My favorite part of the trip was attending Nike's regional corporate office and getting to speak with the panel.  Hearing their advice and career paths was very enlightening and informative.  The impact that this industry trip had on me was second to none.  I am looking forward to attending more industry trips in the future!"

UW's School of Human Ecology Retailing and Consumer Behavior at the Spring 2019 commencement will be celebrating our largest class of graduates EVER!

Congratulations to all of our graduates and we are proud to assist in helping students pursue careers in retail. As the industry expands, so does UW's Retailing program, UW Students are the Future of the Retail Industry! 

National Retail Federation 
UW-Madison Team Excels in Student Challenge Competition 

Every fall UW-Madison Students with a passion for retail have the chance to compete in the NRF Student Challenge. The Student Challenge is a comprehensive case study that students work on in small teams. Historically the NRF has created n entrepreneurial case study by partnering an assortment of sponsors with  Story , a store in NY C that has an extremely unique concept and was just recently acquired by Macy's. 

Four UW Madison Students have made it through first rounds and were chosen as semi-finalists for the 2019 NRF Student Challenge Competition. 

Molly Foley, Sarah Jane Spreng, Lance Dismukes, and Ian Hirsch attended the NRF Student Program on Scholarship in January. Our students won $1500 worth of travel stipend money and competed for further scholarship while attending the Student Program this January. This team presented their case study live in front of judges in New York. 

Every year the Center enjoys advising teams that enter in this competition, and we are so very proud of how innovative and hardworking this year's team was. 

To read more about the 2019 Prompt and NRF Student Challenge click  here. 


Fashion Scholarship Fund
Six UW Students Win $5,000 and One $10,000

This January, students and faculty celebrated the future of the fashion industry at the annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Gala in New York City.
At the gala, six UW-Madison students were awarded $5,000 scholarships for their exemplary work in the  Fashion Scholarship Fund case study addressing a partnership opportunity between Macy's and Etsy:
  • Emma Brandenburg, Merchandising & Marketing
  • Griffin Claes, Design & Product Development
  • Alissa Donovan, Design & Product Development
  • Katherine Eberley, Design & Product Development
  • Sara Kalupa, Technology & Analytics
  • Andrew Kowal, Supply Chain Management
  • Megan Russel, Merchandising & Marketing
  • Kathryn Steib, Merchandising & Marketing
  • Peiru Yu, Merchandising & Marketing 
Retail Leadership Symposium
Spring Semester 2019

Through the Retail Leadership Symposium, students can interact directly with professionals who have hands on experience in various areas of the retail industry. Guest speakers have offered students advice on how to succeed in the retail industry and answer questions about different career paths. Through this class, students have been exposed to buying and merchandising roles, fair trade organizations, and entrepreneurship stories. This class has proven to be beneficial to not only students, but as well as speakers. Speakers are able to connect with the next generation of consumers and future professionals.

Students have learned through this class that building your professional network is essential in any industry so we would like to say thank you to the professionals that have volunteered their time in the Retail Leadership Symposium:

Duluth Trading
Eastbay Footlocker
Blain's Farm and Fleet
Von Maur
Colony Brands
H & M

Your presence on campus and in the classroom benefit our program, and most importantly, our students and their futures in the retail industry!

Students with Keri Kier from Walgreens
Student Perspective: Natalie Herold 
Senior, Retailing and Consumer Behavior, Incoming E-Commerce Category Specialist at Jet.com

Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn!

"This is my second time taking symposium and I've really taken away that there are an endless amount of opportunities within the world of retail. I came into the class sophomore year under the impression that I already knew the career path that I wanted to take. Now, two years later, I'm graduating and have a job lined up that I didn't even know existed when I first started in the major!"

Guest Speaker: A Conversation with Brad Bennett
Industry leading Ethnographer gave Badger's tips on effectively interviewing consumers 

Brad Bennett, founder of B. Bennett Company, traveled to Madison this spring to have an interactive conversation with students in UW's course on Consumer Behavior. 

Students in Patty Sigler's Consumer Behavior course were studying the different research methods used to create the consumer perspective in preparation for their end of the year retailer analysis project. One of the project task's was to conduct interviews within the students chosen retailer.

Brad discussed his extraordinary ethnographic research methods and the uncompromising value it brings to his clients. He also shared tips and techniques with students on how to effectively interview consumers for their upcoming projects.   

The students involved with the Student Retail Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are at the forefront of industry, networking and engaging the local community. Students of all majors with a variety retail sector interest fuel this organization with 180 active members. Email sramadison1@gmail.com to setup a student info session or collaboration for our Minneapolis, Chicago or NYC Industry trips.

SRA took 42 members to New York for the NRF Student Program
So HE lecturer and local business owner, Halley Jones, kicks off SRA's Spring Monthly Meeting
Please Welcome SRA's incoming Executive and Management Teams!

SRA hosted their 2nd Annual Fair Trade panel which featured speakers from Serrv, Campo, and A Just Brew

Connect with the Student Retail Association on Facebook to stay informed on the latest news and events. 




Kohl's Center for Retailing