Feb 22 / Samantha Coates, Marketing Manager

How can you future-proof your organisation and position it for success?

This week, we sat down with BRC Learning Director, Lucy Crowther, to deep dive into the BRC Retail Masters. Who is it for? What does it do? Why should you join? Find out here:

Who is the BRC Retail Masters aimed at? What’s the level of expertise and seniority required for the programme? 

We very clearly say it’s for leaders who are delivering, creating or influencing strategy for their function within an organisation. We have other programmes in our portfolio such as our Transforming Leaders and Emerging Leaders that cater to leaders early on in their career.

Focusing specifically on level of expertise, I would say in a small to medium-sized organisation that would be your executive team and in larger organisations, it would be your senior talent across all functions. Anyone at that level would get something out of this programme. 

I think I’d also add that it’s not just for your traditional retailers either. If you’re facing into retail, or if retail is one of your biggest customers, then this programme is right for you. It’s that diverse mix of backgrounds that really fuels the conversations. 

Why do you think this type of programme is important? 

It’s completely unique – there simply isn’t anything like it on the market.  

As a former HR Director, myself, I understand it can be difficult to be able to offer up fantastic learning and development opportunities to your senior leadership and executive teams. We’ve focused on making the programme sufficiently senior so that it’ll be the go-to programme at executive level.  

Let’s get to the nuts and bolts, how would you describe the Retail Masters for those who might not know what it’s all about? 

This isn’t a traditional taught programme. It's entirely listening, talking and questioning. 

It’s an experience, it’s live, it’s interesting, it’s networking and buildings connections that will support you and your organisation in tackling key issues impacting the industry. It’s very much a programme for curious leaders! 

The first two days are extremely immersive, you’ll spend them soaking up everything the programme offers in the way of expertise, from speakers and other participants. You’ll then travel to the BRC’s new offices in London for an informal gathering with one of our guest speakers. For the last two days, you're asked to critique other businesses; this is a chance to look at your business from different dimensions and to look at other businesses from yours. 

We cap the number of people we accept on to the programme, so we’re talking about small intimate groups with exclusive access to iconic CEOs, direct questions to people you only read about in the press.

You just don’t get that anywhere else!   

Why have you opted for a blended approach? Why not all online?  

Our hand was forced last year, and we had to have an entirely online programme. Although people thought the programme was outstanding last year, the one thing that they did want to do was meet people face-to-face.  

So why have we not done the whole programme face-to-face? Given all the challenges retail has faced recently, we want to control the overall cost implications and make this experience accessible for all retailers. To cut down on cost, we’re putting a lot of work in behind the scenes, scheduling and planning online sessions so they are executed to a high standard.  

A face-to-face session that I’m looking forward to is our Wednesday night speaker, Jon Colley, who’ll be sharing his leadership journey. Last year this was Catherine Poulter and honestly, I wish that we'd all been together in the room because you could have heard a pin drop. She told an unbelievable story; it would just have been amazing to be in the room with her.  

You’ve mentioned a few times the fantastic speakers that the BRC can attract, what kind of guest speakers and experts are we talking about here?  

Delegates hear from a broad range of retailers, SMEs, commentators and industry analysts. We’ve also got industry reporters from Retail Week and The Times because they've got an overall view of key megatrends, the winners and losers – that sort of stuff.  

The objective of the program is simply to expose the delegates to thought leaders on the topics that are impacting their business and which they’re having to address when looking at their next strategic cycle. The only way you can do that is by having a world-class panel of guest speakers and experts.  

Something that caught my eye is the tagline ‘future-proof your business’. What does this mean and how can the Retail Masters help delegates to do this? 

It’s understanding the trends and issues that are going to hit your business like a steam train. A great example is sustainability and the growing demand from customers to buy sustainable products. The Retail Masters is the perfect opportunity to hear from people who are already finding practical and creative ways of overcoming this and other challenges.  

It’s a chance to discuss and debate amongst your peers, which in turn gives you a range of alternative solutions to a problem that you already have, thus potentially future proofing your business.   

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