Industry voices come to second Rethinking Retail and Brands conference

The past 15 months have been a wild ride for the retail and consumer brands industry, with new formats, products, and purchase patterns sprouting overnight. Now, companies are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world. To help them navigate the “new normal,” Cornell is providing professionals unprecedented access to leading industry experts at its second annual Rethinking Retail and Brands live virtual conference, taking place June 15 to 18.

This year, a new conference format brings leading industry voices to the table as well as those of Cornell’s business and food retail experts. Also, session themes were designed to impact a broader range of industry professionals: from retailers and wholesalers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, consultants, and store managers; to those working in consumer packaging, supply chain, logistics, and design. And at the end of each day, attendees can now interact with faculty, experts, and peers in a virtual “conference hall.”

“The focus is on the future,” says program co-director Dan Hooker, senior lecturer in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “Retail is a very fast-moving, rapidly evolving industry. We’re creating a dynamic space for conversation with industry experts, focusing on the most relevant topics driving today’s retail sector.”

Those topics cross four major themes: the Future of Retail, Operations and Supply Chain, Brands, and Big Thinking. Ira Kalish, Deloitte’s chief global economist, will open the conference with an overview of the “new rules” of today’s new economy. Leaders in that evolving landscape then dive deeper into specifics. Trung Nguyen, SVP of Operations at innovative delivery service Shipt, will explain the importance of refining “last-mile delivery” to create different product experiences. And Brian Choi, CEO of The Food Institute, will discuss the rise of alternatives in cuisine, dining format, and menu design with Lilly Jan—Cornell lecturer, former chef, and expert in food and beverage management.

Several Cornell alumni also will bring their expertise back to campus for the Rethinking Retail and Brands conference. Amy Oates Fitzgerald of Numerator will explore post-COVID changes in consumer behavior and trends; Kerrie Lopez, head of merchandising marketing for online retailer Thrive Market, will discuss how to make data-driven decisions in a complex, omnichannel retail environment; and Jason English from Goldman Sachs will provide Wall Street’s perspective on today’s food sector.

The final day of the conference is dedicated to providing attendees with a bigger picture of the emerging retail landscape. It culminates in a closing session with Bill Strassburg, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Wegmans. When Strassburg began his career at Wegmans in 1977, he says there were few MBAs who would consider a job in retail because there was little innovation and few opportunities for advancement. In this session, Strassburg invites attendees to share his progressive perspective on what’s in store for retail over the next 10 to 15 years.

Registration link: eCornell.

eCornell program will help leaders navigate change

Great leaders are always looking ahead, embracing change instead of resisting it and recognizing that the world has changed dramatically in the 21st century.

To prepare managers to lead effectively through “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity), Cornell has launched the VUCA Leadership certificate program. Available online through eCornell, this certificate program will help leaders develop internal strengths and strategic skills, and improve their ability to influence people both within their organization and outside of it to accomplish their vision.

“When organizational leaders are able to identify and reduce the impact of VUCA in the workplace, their teams and organizations thrive,” says Gen. George W. Casey Jr., faculty author of the certificate program and distinguished senior lecturer at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Casey is a retired four-star general who served as the 36th chief of staff of the United States Army.

The certificate program was developed for leaders and executives at all levels. Learners will match their strengths and weaknesses with the leadership characteristics that are vital for success in today’s fluid world, and they will be able to formulate action plans to increase their opportunities for success.

Courses include:

  • Leading in a VUCA World;
  • Developing and Communicating Vision and Strategy;
  • Building Great Teams;
  • Setting Internal and External Conditions for Success; and
  • Preparing for the Future.

Courses normally start every two weeks. Upon successful completion of all five courses, learners earn a VUCA Leadership Certificate from Cornell’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.