Jamila Hadri and her team from Ecole Des Ponts Business School were one of three graduate MBA Programs to participate in last year's Global Retail Challenge.
Since GRC, Jamila has opened her own innovation consulting company to bring her knowledge of design thinking and awareness of the circular economy to Morocco. It took time to visualize and bring this company to life, but it was all worth it and the company became a reality earlier this summer.
A. I was encouraged to participate since our school is oriented to circular economy through its activities with the UE as well as the strength positioning in innovation. Also, I wanted to be part of this challenge since I had worked in retail for several years as an inflight retail Business Unit Manager and I wanted to see if I could find something to spark innovation in my work while bringing in my expertise to the competition. Then, as an MBA student, I wanted to round out my knowledge while getting the chance to pursue my own interest in the circular economy. I wanted to find my own insights and find something to practice and learn at the same time.
Q. What did you find most valuable about the experience?
A. So many things! It has changed so many things for me – learning about the design thinking process and taking the notes and looking back at what you did during the GRC process. I found that I could use this methodology to further innovate on other projects. It helps drive the entrepreneurial spirit and now I have opened my own company using all that I have learned.
Working with the subject matter experts who served as mentors throughout the process, as well as the regional experts from the center for policy and competitiveness (CPC-Paris) and the circular economy research center. Learning to use these resources and our own Paris Tech Alumni network was a great experience. Exposure to the big companies and entrepreneurs that give us the opportunity to build awareness on innovative and circular solutions that still can shift the retail, enhance growth and protect the environment.
But overall, the process of design thinking innovation and learning to put a lot of focus on really understanding the problem and building empathy with stakeholders so that you can then have a solid foundation to research and build on, is what really differentiated this competition. The GRC creates learnings that can be translated to many future projects.
Q. What did you learn about the retail industry during the GRC that surprised you most?
A. I learned that the technology available (AI, bitcoin, AR, etc.) can be a real driver for growth when it’s used in an innovative way to reinvent the customer experience. Furthermore, the retail industry has a huge opportunity today to grow more and more, driven by the purchase power of the new generations (millennials and Gen Z) who are looking for different experiences, if not circular experiences specifically, and driven as well by the technology to make that customer experience easier.
Q. What advice would you give students entering the 2019 Global Retail Challenge?
A. To go in 100%. We are all busy and focusing on many other aspects of life, but take this opportunity seriously. Everything you learn during the process and fine-tune your idea and work with the mentors, whether you win or not, at the end of the process you will have an innovative idea and will have learned so much.
Q. Where do things stand now with your solution?
A. We are still fine-tuning our project and continuing to see if there is a way to bring it to market.
For more information about the Global Retail Challenge or to get involved, please contact Katie Nicholos.