Retail Management: The Guest Lectures

One of the coolest things about classes in the Olin Business School is that there will typically be a few guest lecturers throughout the semester. Here’s a sampling of guests who visited my Retail Management class!

Who are they? Andrew Nadin, Schnucks Markets, Inc., Chief Marketing Officer

What did they talk about? In prior lectures, our class discussed the differences in the value proposition and positioning of other grocery chains, like Aldi and Trader Joe’s. As CMO of Schnucks Markets, Inc., Nadin led a personalized conversation about how brand differentiation applies specifically to the St. Louis market, and how that shapes their business strategy to thrive in a pretty saturated market.

Why that’s so cool? Schnucks is the supermarket of St. Louis – there’s even one within walking distance of the South 40! That’s like the Harris Teeter grocery chain for me back home in Charlotte, North Carolina. When you come to WashU, ask the people you meet what grocery stores they go to – I guarantee it’ll lead to interesting conversations about places you’ve never heard of! (Seriously!)


Who are they? David Glick, Director, Research Analyst Department Stores, Apparel and Accessories Brands, Off Price Retailers, Buckingham Research Group

What did they talk about? Glick began by discussing the history, current status, and future of competitors Michael Kors and Coach. In addition, he presented an overview of the rapidly growing off-price retailing segment, with a special emphasis on T.J. Maxx. He concluded his presentation with a survey of retailing and what is required for retailers to survive and thrive in the days ahead.

Why that’s so cool? As an analyst, Glick has updated insights on the previous cases we had been discussing in class thus far. Students also had a chance to ask him any questions we might have regarding the current retail industry and its future (it was actually our homework to do so!). And, we learned about his career trajectory – how someone who went into investment banking after majoring in Political Science in undergrad could find themselves in the world of retail.


Who are they? Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop

What did they talk about? In a highly inspiring presentation about the entrepreneurial side of retail, Clark recounted her experience building an idea from the ground up. She spoke to retailing as a business where results are measured every single day, where inspiration can strike from anywhere (and anyone), and where any age is a good age to start a business as long as you’re authentic and enthusiastic (she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop at 48!). And, for all the aspiring business-owners in the class, she concluded with the message: “If you can live your imagination, your dream will come true.”

Why that’s so cool? First of all, Maxine is super involved in the Washington University and greater St. Louis communities, and is beyond committed to promoting civic and community engagement. Second, the first ever Build-A-Bear Workshop was founded in the St. Louis Galleria mall – just a quick metro ride from campus! Third, the nostalgia! Without Maxine, where else could I have stuffed my own koala teddy bear at a friend’s birthday party in second grade?