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title slide reading 'the michael j edwards class of 1983 retail and merchandising leadership series celebrating 5 years'
The Michael J. Edwards Class of 1983 Retail & Merchandising Leadership Series has been designed by Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in partnership with alumni, industry partners and leading faculty. These one-hour virtual conversations will detail some of the retail and merchandising trends of tomorrow, sharing speakers’ experiences and advice, and focusing on practical application. The goals of the Retail & Merchandising program are to be more resilient and inclusive, and to create successful leaders of tomorrow. Because Ambition Can’t Wait.

How to Land That Perfect Job: What Recruiters Want!

Register: February 1, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of amanda buchananLanding the ideal job can be extremely difficult and searching for a new career can be a full-time job in and of itself. Amanda Buchanan will share insights from a corporate perspective on what recruiters are seeking in job candidates, interviewing, and hiring strategies for current managers, and employment strategy approaches for both store and corporate level. For those looking to hire key retail talent or individuals looking to advance in their career and enhance their resume focus, this session is not to be missed to enrich professional development.

As a Recruitment Manger for IKEA group, Amanda Buchanan works to ensure effective hiring practices of all retail positions within IKEA stores throughout the Midwest region. As part of IKEA’s recruitment leadership team, Amanda is committed to shaping a high-performance team that leverages Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion best practices.  

With over 15 years of solid and progressive experience in Human Resources, Retail, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Amanda has held a wide range of responsibilities in both field and staff functions.  Amanda received Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in International Business and Spanish from Loyola University Maryland, and an MBA from Villanova University. Amanda resides the Philadelphia Area with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. She loves to travel and participating in community outreach activities impacting the youth.  

LinkedIn: Amanda Buchanan

Welcome to the Independent Retail Store of the Future

Register: February 15, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of anne cecilPost-pandemic the retail store floor must accommodate so much more than product presentation to meet customer expectations. In this session, Anne Cecil will discuss the functions a retail store must integrate on the sales floor to provide an engaging, pleasant and successful shopping experience for the customer, while delivering sales and margins that provide a sustainable profit. Although customers look for these accommodations in every store, our discussion will focus on how these adjustments effect the Independent Retail sector.

For over 30 years, Anne has held various administrative and teaching positions in Merchandising at several institutions including Drexel University and the Community College of Philadelphia. As a visual merchandising expert with a broad range of experience in the merchandising arena. Specializing in Visual Merchandising and store design. Anne shares the strategies, tactics and practice that connects your buy to your sales floor to your customer to your cash register. She is owner and principle of ONO, LLC, www.onomadeinthe191.com and Founder of the VM-CLUB, www.vm-club.com.

LinkedIn: Anne Cecil

Sneakers: Rubber X Leather = Luxury

Register: March 1, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of sean williamsSneakers are most probably one of the world’s most worn accessory items. Join Sean Williams, the guru of sneaker culture, as he shares the latest curriculum and teachings regarding the sneaker industry. Sean is an industry expert and one of the world’s authorities on the sneaker industry and shares his ideas on where this industry needs to be in the future.

Sean Williams is a well-respected and trusted authority on the business and culture of Sneakers. As a lover of sneakers for over 37 years, Sean has been featured in numerous news media and magazine articles. In 2018, he because a Rankin Scholar at Westphal College where he curated the “SOLE of Philadelphia” sneaker exhibition right in Westphal’s lobby. He is also currently the Engagement Manager for Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, a design focused HBCU in Detroit Michigan.

LinkedIn: Sean Williams

Changes in Customer Expectations and Experiences

Register: April 12, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of lauren mucciLauren Mucci has an extensive career in customer services. Join us as Lauren talks about her journey and where customer experiences are going in the future for retail stores. Lauren takes a non-philosophical approach to share with us her “hands on” ideas of being the best in the years to come!

Lauren has 17 years in retail experience, spending a majority of her career in stores leading sales teams. Now, Lauren works at a corporate level within her organization where she supports and trains the North American store teams in building client relationships and elevating omnichannel customer experiences.   

LinkedIn: Lauren Mucci

The Future of Off-Price Retail & Merchandising

Register: April 26, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

The world of off-price retail continues to grow as more and more customers shop such brands as Nordstrom Rack, TJX, Marshalls, Home Goods, and Burlington. During this hour, Nancy Mair will explore what it takes to be strong leader and mentor so everyone can flourish in the world of off-price retailing. Nancy is a veteran in this area, and she will discuss how off-price is growing and where it will be in the near future.

Nancy Mair is a 30-year veteran in Retail Merchandising, the entirety of her career based in Off price Retailing. She started her career as a Co-op working as an assistant buyer in Ladies Apparel at Burlington Coat Factory and returned after graduation to enjoy 26 years, ultimately leaving as SVP/GMM to start her own consulting practice in Off Price Retail Merchandising. She is currently SVP of Merchandising at Nordstrom Rack building the organization to drive future growth.

LinkedIn: Nancy Mair

The Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Retail Leader

Register: May 10, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of tsz kwokRetail leaders have more responsibilities than any other employee. The individual runs the daily operations of the business from overseeing a team of employees to managing the store’s inventory.  Most retail leaders tend to quickly focus on the external factors like processes, people, and targeted goals, but how often do they spend time focusing on themselves? Finding success in this profession commences with the person’s ability to examine of one’s own thoughts and feelings. Research shows that introspection is critical for self-knowledge and building self-awareness. This is the journey to self-management and relationship building for effective leaders. In this hour, Dr. Tsz Kwok will lead participants in reflection by looking inward to who they are, what they value, and what motivates them as a retail leader.

Dr. Tsz Kwok is currently the Director of Academic Administration and Director of Multicultural and Equity Affairs for the Graduate College at Drexel University. In addition, he serves as an adjunct faculty for the MS Retail and Merchandising Online Program under the direction of Dr. Joseph H. Hancock III. Dr. Kwok is the recipient of the 2022 Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence award at Drexel.Dr. Kwok holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and a master’s degree in teaching, Learning and Curriculum from Drexel University. Dr. Kwok serves more than 6,000 graduate students, both on campus and online, and supports faculty and professional staff members who teach and advise graduate students in all of Drexel’s college and schools. He has also been especially involved in supporting our international graduate student community. Dr. Kwok continues to advocate for leadership development, creative leadership, domestic and international student orientation and support programs, and qualitative research methods within the Drexel community.

LinkedIn: Dr. Tsz Kwok

The Secrets of Great Fashion Brand Storytelling

Register: May 24, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of joe hancockWhat makes a brand great? A good story. Come along with Dr. Joe Hancock as he talks about the simple elements of storytelling and how brands have used this methodology to tell what he calls a great brand/story. Using the ides from his acclaimed book Fashion Brand Stories, Joe will reflect on those retail brands who have done it right. He will reveal how fashion branding is not new, but continues to intrigue consumers through basic cultural storytelling design.

Joseph “Joe” Henry Hancock, II is an international authority in fashion branding as a form of storytelling. He is known internationally for his scholarship on cargo pants.  He started in academia after 20 years in the retailing industry having worked for such legendary companies as The Gap, L. Brands, and Target Corporation. He has written the books, Brand/Story: Ralph, Vera, Johnny, Billy and Other Adventures in Fashion Branding (2009), Brand/Story: Explorations and Cases in Fashion Branding (2016, both through Bloomsbury Press) and edited the books Fashion in Popular Culture: Literature, Media & Contemporary Studies (2013), Global Fashion Brands: Style, Luxury & History (2014), Cotton: Companies, Fashion & The Fabric of Our Lives (2016), and Transglobal Fashion Narratives: Clothing Communication, Style Statements, and Brand Storytelling (2018) all with Intellect Books UK. His most recent edited collection The Fashion Business Reader (2019, Bloomsbury) is the first comprehensive reader reinforces the impact the arts and humanities have played with understanding the business side of fashion. Dr. Hancock’s works on branding and storytelling have appeared in such publications as The Brand Challenge edited by Kartikeya Kompella (Kogan Page 2016) and Strategic Design Thinking edited by Natalie Nixon (Bloomsbury, 2015). For the past 10 years, Dr. Hancock has been the Principal Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Fashion, Style and Popular Culture (Intellect Publishers) and he is working on a photographic monograph discussing Jeans (2025). 

LinkedIn: Dr. Joe Hancock

Career Strategies and Landing That Perfect Job!

Register: June 14, 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

picture of amanda buchananFor our last session in our series, we welcome back Amanda Buchanan for a Q&A session about career tips and resume writing techniques.  This hour will be completely question based and allow the audience to chime in with questions on how to land that perfect job!

As a Recruitment Manger for IKEA group, Amanda Buchanan works to ensure effective hiring practices of all retail positions within IKEA stores throughout the Midwest region. As part of IKEA’s recruitment leadership team, Amanda is committed to shaping a high-performance team that leverages Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion best practices. With over 15 years of solid and progressive experience in Human Resources, Retail, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Amanda has held a wide range of responsibilities in both field and staff functions.  Amanda received Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in International Business and Spanish from Loyola University Maryland, and an MBA from Villanova University. Amanda resides the Philadelphia Area with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. She loves to travel and participating in community outreach activities impacting the youth.  

LinkedIn: Amanda Buchanan

The CX Factor: Challenges and Change Makers in Retail Customer Experience

(Coming Soon) Watch on YouTube: Recorded January 18, 2023

Picture of Mike EdwardsJoin Mike Edwards along with special guest, Matt Kaness, CEO and Board Advisor at of Goodwillfinds eCommerce, Inc., as they discuss the challenges and changes with customers in the retail marketplace.

Mike Edwards is a strategic retail and eCommerce executive with 35 years of experience leading publicly traded and privately held retailers through major, billion-dollar transformations. Skilled in driving optimization across digital marketing, merchandising, sales and technology, Michael is focused on driving long-range growth that is sustainable, data-driven, and customer-centric.

Tactical and visionary, Michael has repeatedly aided in the sale and repositioning of companies falling victim to slow topline growth, major profit losses, over-leveraged balance sheets, and under-utilization of technology, even amid cybersecurity crises and a global pandemic. He has most recently served as President and CEO of Hanna Andersson an international children’s lifestyle brand and eBags.com online luggage and travel accessories business. Prior executive roles were CMO at Staples, Borders Group CEO, Lucy Activewear CEO, and Jo-Ann Stores COO.

Industry recognized as a transformative business driver, Michael has served on numerous Boards of Directors with organizations: Linc CX, iTerate AI, Central Garden & Pet, Drexel University, Flexsteel Industries, Muttropolis.com, WickQuick.com, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Portland State University, and Igo.com. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing from Drexel University. Over the last decade, he and the organizations under his management have received: the American Heritage Award from the Anti-Defamation League for leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; Brand of the Year (Lucy Activewear) from the International Council of Shopping Centers; Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (Lucy Activewear) from Ernst and Young; and Customer Service Award of the Year (eBags.com) from the Multichannel Merchant.

Matt Kaness is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Board Advisor of Goodwillfinds eCommerce, Inc., as of September 2022 – the social enterprise is comprised of a re-commerce technology platform and secondhand marketplace under license from Goodwill Industries International, Inc.® Previously, he was a member of the US Advisory Board of Afterpay, Ltd., a global technology-driven payments company (and now subsidiary of Block Inc.), from 2018 to 2022. Mr. Kaness served as interim Chief Executive Officer of Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc., a clothing manufacturer and marketer, from September 2019 to August 2020 and as Executive Chairman from January 2020 to August 2020. He was the President and Chief Executive Officer of ModCloth, Inc., a fashion e-commerce company, from 2015 to 2017, which was sold to Walmart. From 2017 to 2018, Mr. Kaness was an officer in Walmart’s US e-commerce division. Previously, he was the Chief Strategy Officer at Urban Outfitters, Inc., an international fashion and lifestyle omni-channel retailer. Mr. Kaness holds a BS-Mechanical Engineering from the Catholic University of America and an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.

LinkedIn: Mike Edwards, Matt Kaness