Guest Lecturer Discusses Corporate Social Responsibility and Innovation in Retail
IBM's Jerry Stam Gives Lecture to IBA Students
A group of Wittenborg students had the opportunity to learn more about topics such as environmental, social and governance, sustainability, consumer trends and innovation in retail during a guest lecture featuring IBM’s Consumer & Retail Associate Partner Jerry Stam. Titled “The impact of China’s ‘retail revolution’ on the rest of the world?!”, the activity was organised by senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen on 13 January.
The session was attended by five IBA students and encompassed themes that are addressed in the module Economics and Corporate Strategy, connecting them to Stam’s international professional experience. One of the main subjects discussed was how global Chinese retail companies are using sophisticated technological approaches and strategies to enter new markets.
According to Stam, China is at the forefront when it comes to bringing the digital and physical domains together. “If you take the Netherlands as an example, only 7% of all groceries is purchased online. What you see in China is that they are really trying to make big steps in merging the digital and physical together, and many of their companies are providing customers with multiple digital experiences and options when they go to stores. We need to think about how to also do that here, because some Chinese companies are already using these concepts in the Netherlands. So, some of those innovations will come to Western Europe as well.”
During the lecture, Stam also emphasised topics such as the importance of data for company operations and the role played by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in business. “People think it is important to do something about the environment and the impact we as humans have on it. Companies recognise this and that is one of the reasons why they are adopting newer practices. But, at the same time, there are new and stricter environmental laws and regulations being implemented by national governments as well as the European Union, so businesses have to get their act together,” he said.
Having been a guest lecturer at Wittenborg for over three years, Stam highlighted that one of the things he enjoys most about interacting with students is the possibility to share his knowledge and expertise. “I believe that the transference of knowledge is really important, so I am very happy if I can contribute in any way to their growth. On top of that, I am always interested to hear the students’ feedback, particularly because at Wittenborg they come from many backgrounds and origins. So, participating in these activities enables me to learn new perspectives and hear about people’s unique experiences,” he stressed.
Wittenborg senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen pointed out that, by inviting Stam to this activity, he intended students to relate the theoretical concepts they have been learning to an expert’s real-life experience. “Jerry and I have known each other for a long time, and he has given many other lectures to groups of Wittenborg students. I am very happy that we have him on board, because apart from being so knowledgeable, he is an easygoing and approachable person.”
One of the main messages conveyed by Stam, says Meeuwsen, is that students need to be aware of the role they will have as future business leaders. “By addressing and connecting concepts such as environmental, social and governance, CSR and SDGs, he is asking: ‘How do we act as entrepreneurs when it comes to people, planet and prosperity?’ And that reflects Wittenborg’s values and mission.”
by Ulisses Sawczuk