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Renewed software donation helps Retail students graduate career-ready

June 08, 2021
Student at laptop

Thanks to a generous donation renewal, Retail Management students at the Ted Rogers School of Management will continue to have access to industry-leading software that will help set them up for career success.

Blue Yonder, formally known as JDA Software Group, extended their ongoing relationship with the Ted Rogers School by donating software and license agreements valued at nearly $3 million USD to allow students to gain important technical skills before they graduate. The initial gift of retail software applications was made in 2003 by Jim Armstrong, co-founder and former chairman of JDA Software, who was a student in Ryerson’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering program in the 1970s.  

"The Ted Rogers School of Management is incredibly grateful for the two decade long relationship with Blue Yonder, and especially for this latest gift of their industry-leading software” says Sean Ingram, Executive Director of Advancement. “Our close association with companies like Blue Yonder helps to make our education nimble, relevant and distinctive."

The software donated to the school has enabled the Retail Management program to incorporate Blue Yonder’s supply chain solutions into its curriculum. The goal is that students will gain valuable knowledge and experience with the software that will make them more marketable upon graduation. As a leader in the sector, Blue Yonder's client list includes PepsiCo, Best Buy, Canadian Tire and many more of the world’s leading brands.

"This software is widely adopted by retailers, and the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management is the only post-secondary program in Canada to incorporate its use into a Bachelor of Commerce degree curriculum,” says Sean Sedlezky, Manager, Program Design in the School of Retail. “Our graduates will therefore be able to demonstrate a unique set of skills to future employers. Many of our alumni have started careers in roles such as Category Analysts and Space Planning Specialists at major big box retailers, grocery chains and manufacturers of consumer packaged goods."   

In their third year of study, Retail Management students learn how to use Blue Yonder’s category management applications. In the Visual Merchandising and Space Planning course (RMG452), students examine leading edge visual merchandising practices with respect to in-store design and layout. Blue Yonder software is used in the lab component of the course, and enables students to plan in-store displays, window and fixture design and configuration.

Dr. Vladimira Steffek teaches the RMG452 course, and says the Blue Yonder software is intuitive and fun to use. “The final project for the class incorporates the software and provides students with unique hands-on experience and insights into the practical world of retail,” she says.

“For the final project, students are challenged to analyze and deconstruct the given examples of the real-world planograms and question the status quo,” Dr. Steffek explains. “The process of rebuilding a planogram resembles the work of an architect; students must consider and blend together both the art and the science behind the decisions.”

Zachary Robichaud, who is pursuing his PhD in Management at the Ted Rogers School, had the opportunity to use the Blue Yonder software as a Retail Management undergraduate student at the school. "Blue Yonder provides Ryerson students the opportunity to have industry-standard training in space planning software,” he explains. “The specially designed course provides fundamental learning and application, as well as opportunities to network with industry experts.”

“From my experience, many students go on to work in various space planning roles due to Ryerson's reputation of developing sound knowledge and application of this software,” Robichaud adds. “Access to these types of software provides students with the necessary hard skills to become more marketable in the job market upon graduation."