UCLA Anderson School of Management 110 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90095
Retail isn’t dying; it’s evolving. The retail industry is transforming, driven by new technology, changing consumer behavior and bold innovators. Retail has always been in a constant state of change, and throughout all the industry’s twists and turns over the past several decades, retailers have evolved and thrived. Retail is currently a $2.6-trillion industry in the United States and drives the nation’s economy.
In retail, evolution doesn’t stop. As consumer behavior changes with every technological advancement or cultural shift, retailers must rise to meet new demands. And that means staying focused on the changing consumer.
Ghadi Hobeika is Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s (URW) chief digital officer and the CMO of U.S. operations. Hobeika specializes in marketing and e-commerce, with a strong focus on digital media, data and analytics. He is always looking for innovative avenues to optimize the customer journey and has broad experience that includes big-data approaches, predictive marketing, mobile marketing and loyalty programs.
Hobeika joined URW in December 2016 as CMO for Europe after working in European retail companies — both online and multichannel — in strategy, marketing and digital marketing roles. He also spent five years in strategy consulting at Bain & Company in Paris. Hobeika holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the American University of Beirut and an MBA from the ESSEC Business School in Paris.
Grant Barth is the founder and president of ThenWhat, a world-class brand and innovation lab that connects global partners to creatively develop client aspirations. ThenWhat’s mission is to revolutionize the fashion, apparel and consumer goods business model through connecting brands to individual values.
A fan of the Levi's® brand since childhood, Barth became the company’s chief merchandising officer in 2013, a role that gave him responsibility for global merchandising excellence across all product categories: men's, women's and kids’. An accomplished merchandiser, he brought a clear and simple point of view combined with 25 years of product experience to this role. He created and led brand strategies that propelled Levi’s to a successful initial public offering in 2019.
Barth arrived at Levi's® after 16 years with Nike, where he worked across the enterprise in a variety of categories. He credits his merchandising excellence to working for industry leaders such as Mindy Grossman. Several of Nike’s most successful initiatives resulted from his global merchandising leadership in sportswear, running, football, technical outerwear and the Olympic Games.
Barth credits his success to being able to build great international teams while utilizing simple strategies to dynamically bring products to life in the marketplace. He proudly serves as an executive sponsor for a variety of LGBT and community organizations.
Adam Goldston is the co-founder of APL and former two-sport athlete (basketball and football) at USC. Goldston was honored at the White House as part of the Empact 100, which recognizes the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35; was named to the 2015 Game Changers list by Men’s Fitness; was selected to the Forbes 30 Under 30 class in 2016 in the Retail & Ecommerce category as well as the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 20 in their 20s list; was selected to the WWD 40 Under 40 list in 2017; and the company was named most innovative brand by Men’s Health in 2017. He and his twin brother and fellow co-founder, Ryan, are the first two members of an athletic brand to be inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America, whose membership consists of America’s foremost designers. In 2019, Goldston was named to the Power 100 by Footwear News, which recognizes the most powerful people in the footwear industry globally.
APL created the first shoes to be banned by the NBA for providing the wearer with an undue competitive advantage, due to the company’s Load ’n Launch technology. This patented technology has been scientifically proven to increase vertical leap up to 3.5 inches instantly. APL pioneered the luxury-performance category, and its products have been sold in/by many of the world’s top luxury retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, MR PORTER, Carbon38, Le Bon Marché, Harvey Nichols, Lane Crawford and many others.
APL recently opened a flagship store at The Grove in Los Angeles, and in honor of that milestone, Mayor Eric Garcetti declared October 12, 2019, as APL Day in Los Angeles. To this day, APL remains 100% independent, as the company has never had to raise outside capital.
As founder of Lunya and Lahgo, Ashley Merrill is reinventing sleepwear for modern women and men. Both brands share a simple mission: to make people feel confidently comfortable.
Beyond her entrepreneurship in sleepwear, Merrill is a principal at impact investing firm NaHCO3, where she leverages her background in venture, technology and the arts to invest in ways that utilize business to create opportunity and move humanity forward. She is also CEO and co-founder of The Deep, a media platform that makes philosophy and personal exploration accessible through thought-provoking questions and content. Both personally and professionally, she is an active supporter of organizations like Girls Inc., Upstream and United Medical Corps. She is a Southern California native and continues to reside there with her husband and their two young children.
A proven brand builder and entrepreneur with deep experience in innovative media ventures and consumer products, John Tabis is founder and CEO of The Bouqs Company. In 2012, along with co-founder Juan Pablo Montúfar, Tabis launched the Marina del Rey, California-based company, a distinguished industry leader in the online floral space that delivers flowers and plants fresh from eco-friendly, sustainable farms around the world to doorsteps nationwide.
Redefining the flower-buying experience for consumers under Tabis’ leadership, The Bouqs Company has received top recognition, including multiple features on Entrepreneur’s 360 list and being named as one of Inc.’s Top 15 Companies to Watch in 2017. Individually, Tabis has been recognized as a Techweek 100 ambassador for the L.A. Region and as a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Prior to launching The Bouqs Company, Tabis worked in corporate brand strategy at The Walt Disney Company and ShoeDazzle, as well as in management consulting at Bain & Company. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and earned his MBA, with honors, from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he concentrated on fellowship.
Tabis is a coveted speaker on brand strategy and startups; has appeared on numerous TV shows, including “Shark Tank,” “Access Hollywood” and “20/20”; and acts as a mentor to early-stage startups at blue-chip accelerators Techstars and Amplify.LA. He also serves as a board member for the National Association of Women Business Owners in Los Angeles and is the host of the podcast “Give’m the Biz.”
Tabis currently resides with his wife and three young children in Venice, California, where he’s likely to be seen riding his longboard to work.
Michelle Wahler is the co-founder and CEO of Beyond Yoga. Acting as CEO since 2011, Wahler has led the company in building a top-tier management team that has successfully elevated the brand. By expanding the distribution and product line, she has made Beyond Yoga a globally recognized name. Wahler brings over a decade of experience in the retail industry, with an extensive background in and knowledge of design, production and sales. Her prior experience includes time spent at People, Harper’s Bazaar and Yahoo!.
James Hotson was the first employee of Retention Science, guiding it to No. 697 on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list. Hotson is now head of sales for Retention Science, the first and only autonomous artificial intelligence marketing platform. Previously, he launched the e-commerce footwear brand Tweak Footwear, which crowdsourced shoe design via YouTube videos and took design submissions on Facebook. He has written articles for Forbes to help salespeople better sell software as a service.
Amelia Thomas is the founder of Resident, a social-impact clothing company. After working in the fashion industry for nearly a decade, Thomas became frustrated with its materialistic side. During her time as an undergraduate at USC, she began working as a volunteer with the homeless population in downtown Los Angeles. She became very passionate about the issue of homelessness and wanted to make more of an impact, so she combined her two passions and launched Resident, a clothing company that gives back with every purchase, in September 2019. With a revolving donation model, each collection contributes to a different organization that is fighting to end homelessness in Los Angeles. Additionally, customers can see at checkout exactly how much of their purchase is going toward that goal. While building Resident, Thomas is pursuing her master’s degree at the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy. She is also a social impact consultant and has completed homeless-oriented projects in both the public and private sectors.
Mabel Frias (’14)
Director of Site Merchandising and E-Commerce Strategy Savage X Fenty
Director of Site Merchandising and E-Commerce Strategy, Savage X Fenty
Mabel Frias is an accomplished digital merchant with more than a decade of progressive experience in merchandising/buying and e-commerce strategy at Fortune 200 companies (Macy’s and Nordstrom) and high-growth digital startups (One Kings Lane and VIOLET GRAY). In her current role as director of site merchandising and e-commerce strategy at Savage X Fenty, Lingerie by Rihanna, Frias’s focus is to leverage customer behavior and insights to inform the digital road map strategy in support of the brand's commitment to diversity and inclusivity. She is most passionate about the intersections of fashion/lifestyle and technology and how these can be leveraged to deliver great storytelling and best-in-class online customer experiences.
Mabel holds a B.A. in history from New York University and a M.A. in history of decorative arts and design offered jointly by Parsons Design School and the Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian Institution. She also completed the UCLA Anderson Riordan MBA Fellows Program.
Rob Fagnani (’15)
Head of Business Development and Operations Formation
Head of Business Development and Operations, Formation
Rob Fagnani is a founding team member at Formation and currently leads business development and operations for the company. Fagnani has extensive experience working with executives across the consumer/retail, travel and financial services industries on utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive digital strategy, transformation and value creation.
Prior to Formation, Fagnani was a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, where he advised consumer and financial services companies on corporate strategy, M&A and marketing analytics. Additionally, he was an investor at Morgan Stanley, where he was responsible for $4 billion of credit investments for Morgan Stanley's investment funds.
Fagnani earned his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and his bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University. He is also a CFA charterholder.
Birdie Bartholomew is the director of retail partnerships at Happy Returns, a service for shoppers and retailers that solves the number-one pain point of online shopping: returns. Happy Returns provides comprehensive return solutions for forward-thinking retailers and their customers with best-in-class returns software and reverse logistics. Shoppers enjoy multiple ways to return: in person via Happy Returns’ nationwide network of Return Bar locations, through the retailers’; own stores or by carrier. With aggregated shipping and logistics across all channels, retailers benefit by reducing their return costs and retaining revenue — all while increasing shopper loyalty and reducing their carbon footprint.
Bartholomew has been with Happy Returns for two years and spearheads the sales team. Prior to Happy Returns, she worked at Trunk Club for six years. She began her career as a top-performing stylist, and in her promotion to head of office, she was responsible for recruiting and building the first expansion office in Dallas. Her time at Trunk Club Los Angeles was spent mentoring and developing an entirely new division of its sales team.
Stephanie Smith (’14)
Digital Merchandising Manager NordstromRack.com | HauteLook
Digital Merchandising Manager, NordstromRack.com | HauteLook
Stephanie Smith (’14) is a digital merchandising manager at NordstromRack.com |HauteLook, overseeing customer experience strategy and operations. Smith focuses on a number of areas, including site navigability, online and omnichannel feature development, systems integrations and reporting design. She has spent the last five-plus years at Nordstrom supporting the strategic growth and evolution of both Nordstrom.com and NordstromRack.com. She is passionate about understanding consumer behavior, building best-in-class experiences for customers and solving complex problems.
Smith earned her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and her bachelor’s degrees from USC. She is also a CPA.
Associate Director, Supply Planning The Honest Company
Associate Director, Supply Planning, The Honest Company
Elliott Berger is the associate director of supply planning at The Honest Company, a CPG company specializing in safe, effective and clean baby and beauty products. Berger leads its operations team to plan, procure and transport inventory across the globe. He’s held multiple positions in the consumer packaged goods and apparel industries, specializing in both supply creation and demand ideation for innovative products and expanding regions.
Prior to joining The Honest Company, Berger worked at L'Oréal on the NYX Professional Makeup Supply Chain team after spending half a decade in the apparel industry as a demand analyst at 7 For All Mankind and as a production planner at American Apparel. He learned from the ground up how to maneuver through the manufacturing environment while considering its impact on the end consumer and the world at large.
Jenise Steverding is the chief impact officer of Gifts for Good, an innovative, millennial-driven and socially conscious startup whose mission is to disrupt the world of business gifting. As an agent of change for both large corporations and smaller companies alike, Gifts for Good features a digital platform that the only resource in the corporate gifting space that curates premium, posh and purposeful gifts that give back. Steverding leads impact strategy and brand partnerships, ensuring all curated, premium products meet the company’s impact and product standards.
Steverding previously served as an early member of the TOMS® Shoes Global Giving Program, where she led the giving account team to scale its global shoe-giving platform from 1 million to 50 million pairs of shoes distributed through impactful nonprofit partnerships. She also has held senior positions at Pledgeling and the Special Olympics World Games, where she oversaw the development and implementation of corporate sponsorships and cause-marketing programs with Toyota, Google and Westfield, among many others.
Steverding studied business and sociology at Westmont College and later earned her master’s degree in public management at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy.
Strategic Partner Development Manager Google Shopping
Strategic Partner Development Manager, Google Shopping
Dalya Barsamian is a strategic partner development manager on the Google Shopping team. Barsamian manages merchant partnerships for Shopping Actions, the program that allows retailers of all sizes to list their products across various Google surfaces. Shopping Actions enables consumers to effortlessly turn browsing into buying without leaving the Google UI. Prior to this, she was a executive business partner at Google, where she collaborated with senior leadership from various teams, including Media & Entertainment, Android and Shopping. She was an integral part of the leadership team, working with clients and internal stakeholders to manage business and financial strategies. Before joining Google in 2015, she worked in health care administration at the UCLA School of Medicine.
With almost 15 years in both the luxury retail and tech industries, Melissa Marks has built an extensive network of top brands and retailers globally. Marks spent almost nine years at Farfetch, where she helped grow their Los Angeles team and launched hundreds of globally recognized brands and retailers on its platform. She is now at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, spearheading retailer marketing and overseeing its highly successful pop-up program.
Rita Zahir has over 15 years of marketing and e-commerce expertise across organizations ranging from high-growth startups to billion-dollar public companies. Zahir has an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business.
Zahir currently leads the e-commerce business as the VP of marketing and e-commerce at The Giving Keys, a fashion brand with a social impact mission. Previously, she led marketing at Tradesy to revamp the department and create double-digit growth. Prior to that, she held roles leading acquisition marketing for Polaris’s e-commerce business, led growth for mobile and emerging products at Symantec and directed marketing at j2 Global and Shoes.com.
Megan Stoneburner Azim
Director of Sustainability and Sourcing Outerknown
Director of Sustainability and Sourcing, Outerknown
Megan Stoneburner Azim currently leads sustainability and sourcing at Outerknown. Stoneburner has more than 10 years of experience in product development and strategy, working in sustainable innovation, inventory management, production and sourcing of apparel and home goods, with the majority of her career at Gap Inc. Her love for the outdoors has made her career a life mission.
As chief shoe maker and original gangster at TOMS, Sean Scott witnessed how consumers not only expect quality products, but they also want their purchases to mean something more; they want their purchases to drive change. Beyond TOMS, Scott’s experience at Nike, ASICS and Vans provided the industry knowledge to build a meaningful and sustainable business.
Now, as co-founder and CEO at COMUNITYmade, Scott oversees a unique, locally made business model. The company’s mission is to inspire action and empowerment through community participation.
French-born and one of nine siblings, Emmanuel Rey obtained a degree in engineering in agronomics (agricultural engineering). His technical academic expertise, paired with social and political consciousness, led Rey to Cameroon and Ivory Coast in West Africa, where he worked as a cocoa and coffee buyer in the bush. He began to develop his dedication to a win-win-win business model, starting by teaching traditional growers on their small plantations how to produce premium-quality product more effectively, increasing the monetary value of their crops as well as empowering them as independent businesspeople.
Leveraging his intimate knowledge of cocoa production, Rey moved to the Netherlands to become a cocoa trader. His personal connection to the people and places behind the commodities gave him a unique perspective. The experience deepened his awareness of exploitative practices in worldwide markets and revealed an opportunity to create products for people who are seeking ethically sourced goods.
After earning his MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, Rey began his career in the international beauty business and spent 10 years at L’Oréal, where he concluded his tenure as general manager for L’Oréal Paris in Portugal.
Searching for a way to use his beauty experience to express his belief that ecological and profit goals are mutually achievable, Rey joined Aveda as general manager, U.K., Ireland and Scandinavia. After quickly rising to the position of senior vice president and general manager for Aveda North America, he was instrumental in developing Aveda into a natural, sustainable and profitable brand.
Leaving Aveda after 10 years to focus on personal growth, Rey intensified his long-standing passion for wellness and became certified as an Ashtanga yoga teacher in Greece. His experience as a yogi gave him new insights regarding the needs of people who strive to make mindfulness a part of their active lifestyles. YUNI Beauty was born from those insights.
Sasha Calder is the director of sustainability at Beautycounter, the leader in the safer skin care and cleaner cosmetics category. The Santa Monica, Calif., based brand is driving a national movement for improved transparency and accountability in the beauty industry, including supporting advocacy to update federal regulations that have remained largely unchanged since 1938. The company's mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
Calder is responsible for driving and optimizing the organization’s sustainability strategy. As an impact strategist, she has worked across industries to leverage brands and high-growth startups’ environmental, social and economic bottom lines, and to bring about long-term change through sustainable development, responsible sourcing and strategic social impact.
Calder holds an M.A. in responsible management and sustainable economic development from the United Nations-Mandated University for Peace and a B.A. in anthropology, with a concentration in finance, from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was named as one of GreenBiz’s 30 Under 30 and earned a place on Assent’s 2019 Top 100 Corporate Social Responsibility Influence Leaders List. She also serves as the chair of Surfrider L.A.
Brianna Matz is a seasoned marketer with experience across brand marketing and integrated communications, building brands authentically in the digital age. Over her career, Matz has worked with Yoplait, Tide, Guinness, Bottega Veneta and other brands to define audience-first strategies, platforms and activations that drive meaningful connections with consumers. She is currently director of marketing strategy at Theragun, the world leader in percussive therapy, helping to bring the brand to the masses.
Annette Cheyne is the chief of staff at NordstromRack.com | HauteLook, working to support their leadership team in streamlining of operations, while also serving as a strategic advisor. Previously, during her four-plus years at Nordstrom, Cheyne led key growth initiatives ranging from defining the company’s mobile-first strategy to re-envisioning its supply chain network in support of local markets. With over 10 years of experience in the fashion retail industry, she has held positions in apparel production, corporate strategy, loyalty marketing and, most recently, business management. Cheyne earned her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and her bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Northridge.
Maureen Smith Phillips
Founder Smith Phillips Consultancy Moderator: Experiential Retail Panel
Maureen Smith Phillips is the founder of Smith Phillips Consultancy, a retail consulting firm providing omnichannel expertise to global brands at all phases of the business growth cycle, with an emphasis on assortment strategy and inventory management.
Phillips began her merchandising career as a trainee at North America’s largest jewelry retailer, Zales Jewelers. After five years, she leveraged her experience in fine jewelry and watches to aggressively rebuild the global Guess? Accessories business over six years. Following Guess?, Phillips became the head merchant for bebe’s Made for Outlet division. She created and led product initiatives that improved profitability by nearly 200% over the course of three years. A desire to explore the digital space led Phillips to digitally native brands Anine Bing and ModCloth, where she led product strategy for women’s apparel, accessories and footwear.
Phillips is adept at leveraging consumer insights, product performance analysis and competitor analysis in order to provide clear product direction. She excels at building and developing partnerships, and has established a robust Rolodex of key contacts. With a proven aptitude for delivering forward-thinking solutions to increase revenue and consistently achieve or exceed sales and margin goals, Phillips will partner closely to bring a brand’s vision to life.
Beyond her consultancy, Phillips is personally active in supporting charitable organizations. She most recently completed the Portland to Coast Relay in Oregon and supported the Bald Faced Truth Foundation, a children’s organization providing access to the arts, music and athletics. Phillips currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband.
Director, Career Advising and Corporate Outreach Consulting and Social Impact, UCLA Anderson Parker Career Management Center Moderator: Keynote Founders Panel
Director, Career Advising and Corporate Outreach Consulting and Social Impact, UCLA Anderson Parker Career Management Center
Moderator: Keynote Founders Panel
Chris Weber joined the Parker Career Management Center in November 2013 as an associate director and was promoted in September 2015 to his current position. In addition to serving as a career advisor to students interested in consulting, retail and social impact roles, Weber leads the advising channel for the office and advises employers in the above industries on how to connect with current UCLA Anderson MBAs.
Associate Professor of Marketing, Behavioral Decision Making and Psychology, UCLA Moderator: Closing Keynote
Associate Professor of Marketing, Behavioral Decision Making and Psychology, UCLA
Moderator: Closing Keynote
Hal Hershfield is an associate professor of marketing, behavioral decision making and psychology at UCLA. Hershfield’s research, which sits at the intersection of psychology and economics, examines the ways that people consider their future selves, and how feelings of connection to these distant selves can impact financial decision making over time. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. Hershfield publishes in top academic journals and contributes op-eds to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other outlets. He consults with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; many financial services firms such as Fidelity, Prudential and Merrill Lynch; and marketing agencies such as Droga5. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Hershfield was recently named one of the 40 Best Business Professors Under 40 by business education website Poets & Quants.
Co-Founder and CEO, The Good Trade Moderator: Sustainability Panel
AmyAnn Cadwell is co-founder and CEO of The Good Trade, a premier digital destination for sustainable lifestyle content, annually reaching 50 million highly engaged readers through The Good Trade’s website, daily newsletter and cross-channel social media presence. Cadwell also applies her expertise in digital behavior and marketing as an angel investor and advisor in early-stage consumer brands with a strong social mission. She has been recognized by Forbes and is a frequent speaker at conferences such as The Heart Series, BlogHer and the Yellow Conference. Cadwell has a Master of Arts in social entrepreneurship from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Rockhurst University.
Lesley Roberts is the founder of OceanParkStudio, a marketing and strategy firm that believes in the power of thoughtful ideas, creative vision and clarity of purpose to achieve meaningful change and growth. Roberts works and plays in the intersections between art, design, culture, entrepreneurship and sustainability. She is the lead for the Southern California Fibershed, executive director of Textile Arts | Los Angeles and a principal of licensing agency Count the Chickens. She earned a B.A. in art history from UCLA and attended UCLA Anderson’s Executive Education program.
Breakfast and Registration
Welcome and Kickoff
Korn Convocation Hall
Co-Founder and President, ThenWhat Inc.
Korn Convocation Hall
The Power of Experiential Retail
Starting at the Source: Sustainability in the Retail Supply Chain
Doing Good Is Good Business: The Motivation Behind Mission-Driven Brands
Technology and Intelligent Retail
Executive Dining Room
Founders Keynote Panel
Founder and CEO, Lunya and Lahgo
Founder and CEO, The Bouqs Company
Co-Founder and CEO, Beyond Yoga
Korn Convocation Hall
Chief Marketing Officer U.S. at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
Korn Convocation Hall
Korn Convocation Hall
Networking Reception and Entrepreneurial Showcase
*Schedule Subject to Change
Sign Up for Updates
Five Reasons to Attend the Evolve Conference:
Make new business connections at the West Coast’s only MBA-driven retail conference
Engage in discussions about predicting and addressing shifting consumer preferences
Experience interactive panel discussions exploring the latest industry advancements
Hear from our keynote speakers: Grant Barth, Co-Founder and President, ThenWhat Inc. and Ghadi Hobeika, CMO U.S. and Group CDO, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
Interface with Industry titans and entrepreneurs, who will offer valuable lessons on keeping your retail business moving forward