Interview: Rebecca Saunders
We talk to Rebecca Saunders, Director (Consumer & Retail) at Alvarez & Marsal about why she joined the People in Retail judging panel for the 2023 awards.
Why did you choose to take part / be included in the People in Retail Awards?
I’m passionate about retail and having worked as a buyer, entrepreneur, and consultant in the sector I know how challenging it can be. I wouldn’t be where I am today without some incredible people in the industry, and I hope my support for the awards will give something back.
More than anything, I am looking forward to coming together in person at the event after a tough couple of years to celebrate stories of individuals who have made a real difference over the last year.
Why do you think these awards are important?
Retail involves so many unsung heroes – visual merchandisers, layout teams, security personnel, delivery drivers, analysts, developers and many more – that the general public rarely hear about, yet are critical in delivering a great customer experience. I’m delighted to be part of the People in Retail Awards which celebrate people across all parts of the retail ecosystem.
What are you most excited to see in this year’s entries?
I’m looking forward to hearing stories about inspirational people that I might not have known about otherwise – particularly individuals who have generated strong results, supported others, and delivered innovation during times of adversity.
Any advice or top tips for companies entering?
These are awards about people – so I want to know all about the human side of the stories as well as the financial performance.
What do you admire about the retail industry and why?
I admire the industry’s ability to adapt and evolve through periods of change. It’s been undeniably tough, but the industry has shown resilience and creativity. From the entrepreneurs I worked with while running a startup to the global corporations I advise in my current role at Alvarez & Marsal, I find it a constant source of inspiration when I come across people in retail who are ambitious, innovative and passionate.
Any comment about how the retail industry has changed since the start of your career?
Throughout my 20-year career I have seen huge change; most notably through the rise of ecommerce. I distinctly remember learning about Google ads and SEO during my MBA course at Columbia in the mid-2000s and thinking “this could change everything”. Supporting companies in navigating this shifting digital landscape has been a focus of my career, from working with over 100 direct-to-consumer brands as an entrepreneur to my position at Alvarez & Marsal, where I advise retail clients on complex transformations to ensure they are fit for the future.
What changes do you hope to see in the future?
I hope consumers find reasons to return to high streets and that retailers find routes to sustainable profitability through a multichannel approach. Of course, it’s partly an industry responsibility to give consumers reasons to visit via compelling customer experiences. As someone who has always loved spending time on the high street, from my first Saturday shop floor job to advising retail leaders on store experience, I’m always looking for ways to champion innovation that benefits customers.