New industry partnership opens job pathways for marketing students

14 June 2021

Monash Business School Marketing students are gaining practical industry skills and additional job pathways through a new partnership between the Department of Marketing and global supply chain solutions company Blue Yonder.

(L-R) Monash Business School Department of Marketing Retail Management Principles Unit Coordinator, Karen Lurati, and Blue Yonder Australia's Director of Customer Success Matt Furlong, with Space Planning Education Program 2021 student winners Miller Anderson, Amelia McGrath and Amy Khuu.

Under the collaboration, Retail Management students undertook Semester 1 assessments using Blue Yonder's retail planning software.

The Space Planning Education Program collaboration was the brainchild of Karen Lurati, Retail Management Principles Unit Coordinator in the Department of Marketing, together with Blue Yonder Australia's Director of Customer Success, Matt Furlong.

Ms Lurati set an assessment for her Retail Management students using Blue Yonder software, which Mr Furlong and his team had modified for the Monash classroom.

Under the assessment, the students had to create 'planograms' of the optimal supply and sale of breakfast cereals, making decisions such as removing low-performance lines and choosing new lines.

They were provided with simulated data, and were required to consider factors including retailer strategy and market trends.

"They also had to justify their decisions, which was a demonstration of higher-order thinking," Ms Lurati said.

After students were assessed, three winners - Miller Anderson, Amy Khuu and Amelia McGrath - were awarded a prize.

Each winner will do a two-day intensive course of accredited training in the Blue Yonder software, which will further develop their skills and open up career pathways.

But the scheme brought many benefits to all participating students and the Business School, Ms Lurati said.

They included building links between industry and student networks, a broad understanding of decision-making and practical applications in the 'real world' of retail, opportunities to build industry-specific skills in FMCG and access to cutting-edge technology used by retailers, Ms Lurati said.

She is confident the partnership will continue next year. "It's been a very positive experience for all," Ms Lurati said.

"I am always looking for partnerships with industry - we often have guest presenters, but any practical initiatives like this partnership with Blue Yonder that further increase interest and value to the students are always priorities for me."

Mr Furlong said he had welcomed the partnership as it "provided students with an opportunity to learn some real world skills on a market leading solution".

He said the top benefits to Blue Yonder were in brand recognition, plus the opportunity to "seed" their own customer solutions skills in soon-to-be-graduates.

The experience also placed Monash students in a good position to potentially be employed by Blue Yonder customers, he said.

"Monash graduates now have a clearer idea of what category management work is like and have practiced some of the base skills required for such a role," he said.

"That's an accelerator for our customers who can bring new starters on board with a higher level of confidence that they're the right fit."

The partnership was run under Blue Yonder's University Gifting Program, which minimised red tape and enabled the software to be used in the classroom with maintenance and support, but no licensing costs.

"To my knowledge, this is the first such partnership between Blue Yonder and a University in the Asia Pacific region," Mr Furlong said.

One of the student winners, Amelia McGrath, described the experience as "really practical".

"It was great to have that real-life practical application of skills, not just sitting down and writing an essay," Ms McGrath said. "I'm a very visual learner so I liked that element of it."