Marketing Students Get Insider’s View of the Retail Industry

Marketing students at the School of Management recently had the opportunity to hear from two guest speakers in their Marketing 322: Retailing/E-commerce course, which is a marketing elective. Students were able to connect content and strategies learned in class with first-hand accounts of what it is like to work in the retail industry. The course examines retailing, as well as the planning and implementation of in-store and out of store retail marketing strategies. In the course, students focus on the managerial perspective of critical decision alternatives, variables, forces, and processes.

The first guest speaker, Adrianna Sgarlata Schweizer, is the store manager for The Limited store at Tysons Corner and is responsible for $3.5 million in annual sales. Schweizer has been a store manager at the women's apparel retailer for three years and has been with the company for a total of 12 years. She spoke to students about store management, customer service and the hiring and training of staff. Schweizer is also a Mason alumna, with bachelor's and master's degrees in music.

"I really enjoyed having Adrianna coming to our class to speak. Her ambition and drive allowed me to see what traits a successful store manager and successful leader should possess," says marketing major, Naseem Tahbaz.  "It was a great experience to meet someone from the other end of the spectrum and hear how it works behind the scenes."

retailChris Poleto, general manager for major department store, Lord & Taylor, invited students to come to the store at Fair Oaks Mall for a tour. During the tour he explained the buying/shipping supply chain of garments, their life cycle and the complexities of managing a store with 150 employees.

"[Polento] took us through the store and pointed out how items were merchandised," explains course professor Ferris Kaplan. "Students were able to ask him many questions throughout the tour and in the debriefing we had in the training room."

Though Kaplan has taught other marketing courses, this is his first time teaching the retailing/e-commerce course, but he is no stranger to the retail industry. He became acquainted with both guest speakers during his time as the marketing director for Fair Oaks Mall, a position he held for 11 years.

"This is a fun class. Some of my students are currently in retail, some want to go into retail, and some want to start their own retail company," says Kaplan. "This is a good introductory course for them to find out what it's like to make a business and marketing plans for both in-stores and online."

George Mason University School of Management

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