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Experiencing Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit

Experiencing Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit
by Emily Carrillo ’18

Ray Greenly Scholars

This past September, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the 2016 Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit in Dallas, Texas, as a Ray Greenly scholarship finalist. As a finalist, I attended both the Student Program and the Summit, which allowed me to interact with and hear from a variety of retail industry executives.

This experience was absolutely incredible, with so many speakers excited to be talking about the future of retail from a tech standpoint. I was thoroughly interested to hear about the intersection where tech meets retail and how it impacts all aspects of the industry.

Giannina Ong ’18, a Ray Greenly semifinalist, also attended the event. She commented, “This experience was absolutely eyeopening to how dynamic the industry is. Shop.org’s ability to include all majors and innovate like Silicon Valley was clearly on display during the Student Program and the Summit. The highlight of the event for me was meeting HSN’s CEO, Mindy Grossman, and hearing her speak about the importance of telling a story through all shopping platforms during the keynote of the Summit.”

I had the pleasure of participating in a “speeddating” type activity with top retail executives. The “speeddating” was a unique, incredible experience, because it allowed us to pose questions to executives from HSN, The Container Store, Petco, JC Penney, Cornerstone Brands, Walmart, Kohl’s, and more! We all truly enjoyed this experience, because it allowed us not only to network with these highly influential people, but also talk to them in an intimate and personal setting.

There was also a career fair with many sought-after companies, such as Target and Under Armour, which included a tech expo showcasing the next big trends, like virtual reality glasses, in technology and retail.

One of my favorite speakers was Vijay Raghunathan, vice president of engineering at Under Armour. He gave us three pieces of advice for our future (but not-so-far-away) careers: 1) You should always be growing faster than the company, 2) You should always be developing new skills and never stop learning, and 3) You should always keep looking forward for the next big opportunity. In addition, he heavily stressed the importance of finding a great mentor to help lead you in your career.

Another inspiring piece of advice came from Farhan Jafri, director of Macys.com’s Lean Engineering Labs. He discussed the value of innovation, and how taking risks can be very beneficial because, as his mentor put it, “If you win, you can lead; but if you lose, you can guide.” He was very knowledgeable and his advice truly helped me to realize the importance of taking risks in my upcoming career.

Christine Rose, CIO of Kendra Scott, gave a motivating talk about being flexible in your position and knowing a little bit about every aspect of the job. She emphasized how even though she works in IT, many of her problems were solved using business-oriented skills. She advised us to always break down big problems into little manageable bits and then tackle them from there. Although this seems like common sense, to hear it coming from such an influential and strong leader was very reassuring.

The Student Program at Retail’s Digital Summit was a truly exhilarating and refreshing experience that I will always refer back to. I learned an incredible amount in such a short period. I networked with retail leaders and influencers, and met some amazing students in other fields passionate about retail.

I would definitely encourage retail students to apply for the Ray Greenly Scholarship next year so they can attend the 2017 Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit and have this once in a lifetime experience.