Why don’t we start a conference?

One of the best things MIT Sloan has is the openness to new ideas for student-run events and initiatives, including the possibility of creating and running your own conference. As the Co-Presidents of the 2017 Class said: “Everything we love about Sloan is built by a previous student. Leave a mark and leave it a better place than before”. This is definitely the culture we live and breathe at Sloan.

After our first year in the leadership team for the Retail and Consumer Goods Club, we realized that we had an amazing group of Sloanies interested in these industries who possessed the skills and attitude to tackle the tough challenges companies are facing today. As we all know from the latest headlines, the retail and consumer goods industries are experiencing a revolution due to change in consumer behavior which is enabled by breakthrough technology and the emergence of online platforms such as Amazon. In order to survive this revolution, the Retail and Consumer Goods industries need to get faster, smarter and more relevant to their consumer. To address this need, we saw the opportunity to leverage MIT as a hub for technology and innovation, and create the space to elevate the conversation about how these industries are engaging and integrating technology in their end-to-end business in order to survive and define the next frontier. This how the MIT Retail and Consumer Goods Conference was born, with our first theme centering on this intersection of industry and technology innovation: Beyond the Screen.

We couldn’t have achieved this huge undertaking if it didn’t occur in Sloan’s collaborative environment. First, we managed to form an incredible team of almost 30 current MBAs to lead speaker outreach and onboarding, to engage sponsors for funding, to build the branding and push advertising to boost sales, and to organize and execute the complicated logistics around the event. Throughout the process we have been incredibly humbled by the passion, talent, and support of our core planning team and classmates. Second, we leveraged the network of Sloan alumni in leadership positions who are always willing to provide support to current students by either returning to speak, connecting us with industry resources or donating swag! And finally, we were supported by other student clubs (such as Marketing, Tech, Sustainability Initiative) who shared a connection or vision to the theme of our conference and were willing to share resources and expertise – Sloanies helping Sloanies (its real, not just a myth)!

The biggest challenges that we faced were primarily around creating hype on a new concept and racing against the clock. We are fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated and talented team, but with launching a fall semester conference you’re forced to accelerate a lot of timelines. The biggest turning point for us was locking in our three keynote speakers – Nike, L’Oréal and Kellogg’s – which provided us with the much needed leverage to convince other speakers and sponsors that we were both serious and relevant. The most rewarding part of the experience is getting to work together with other Sloanies and MIT students who are passionate about making a difference in the industry. It’s incredible to see a physical manifestation of the power of the MIT name come to life, from a conversation that started with “hey…let’s start a conference”.

Now it’s T-2 days and we’re so excited to present the first ever MIT Sloan Retail and Consumer Goods Conference: Beyond the Screen – How Tech is Redefining the Industries from Concept to Customer. Come join us this Friday December 8th and Saturday December 9th at the MIT Media Lab and find out from leaders at Nike, L’Oréal, Kellogg’s, New Balance, Starbucks, Ministry of Supply, among others, how tech is embedded in the future of these industries. Are you ready?

For more information about the conference, visit our website: www.mitrcgconference.com

– Lauren Bronec and Pia Iriarte, Co-Chairs of the Retail & CG Conference, MBA 2018

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