When I started my retail business and hence my retail career almost 30 years ago, I did not have any formal training in retailing. It was common for many like me to pick up the necessary retail skills and knowledge on the job. The science and arts of retailing as a business have advanced much since then. Changing customer preferences, business innovations, globalisation, information technology and now, raising productivity, have pushed the boundaries of retail management. To develop leadership capabilities, retail executives have to learn more and faster than before. A formal grounding in retail management is essential for any retail executive; and, continuous professional development is a must for the contemporary retail manager as well as the business owner. Having blazed our way similarly for many years, my contemporaries and close friends Mrs Wong Sioe Hong (Executive Chairman of Metro Private Limited) and Mr Tang Wee Sung (former Chairman of C.K. Tang Limited) and I agreed that the path that we have taken is no longer effective to develop our retail leaders for today’s economy. After working hard for many years, our passion to help develop future leaders has materialised in the setting up of the Retail Academy of Singapore.
A key focus of the Retail Academy is to develop leaders at middle and senior levels of the retail organisation. In a highly competitive global marketplace, retailers need leaders with higher education, deeper insights of the business and wider accessibility to networks. In collaboration with the University of Stirling in the UK, we offer the MBA in Retailing by distance learning and the Diploma in Retail Management as our flagship programmes to develop retail leaders at middle and senior levels respectively. I am pleased that the MBA in Retailing is designated the “course of study” for the Singapore National Retail Scholarships since 2008. For deeper insights, we offer seminars on trends and leading practices; as well as short courses on specialist retail areas, and relevant soft skills. Wider network opportunities are offered through our close ties with the Singapore Retailers Association and our programmes that have also attracted retail professionals in the region.
To meet the needs of a globalised world, our programmes not only provide up-to-date knowledge and skills, they also include an international perspective on the specific areas of retail management through facilitators who are practitioners or subject specialists that have relevant international experiences.
We are pleased that more than 4,800 retail practitioners have graduated from our programmes in the past 11 years. By stepping up in their knowledge, many of these practitioners stand out from the crowd with their significant contribution to their companies’ business and have enjoyed good progression in their careers. The Retail Academy stays true to our commitment to be the platform for retail excellence through professional development for Singapore and Asia.
For what we have achieved so far in such a short time, I am truly thankful to our Founding Members, Founding Sponsor, Retail Partners, Valued Supporter and the Government of Singapore who have provided the necessary support to make this a successful endeavor. Together, we will continue to enable both present and future retail leaders to step up and stand out!
Dato’ Dr Jannie Chan