Beauty & The Badger

By Diana Stallworth
Published Nov 13, 2019

Each year, hundreds of students from more than a dozen universities compete in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge -- a business case competition that enables collegiate teams to apply what they've learned in the classroom to the real world.

As a University of Wisconsin-Madison participant, retailing and consumer behavior major Molly Foley and her team worked for more than eight months with a mentor from KPMG to create the perfect business pitch. Applying core business concepts to a real retail challenge showed Foley just how much determination and drive it takes to bring a product to life.

"It is a lot of hard work," Foley says, "but the NRF Foundation Student Challenge is better than any class you can possibly have."

This past January, Foley and her team attended the NRF Foundation Student Program – and our gala – as finalists. Foley was inspired by the retailers on stage and in the audience, and her team inspired one of those leaders to offer an extraordinary opportunity.

Also attending the gala was Sephora's Chief People Officer Karalyn Smith. Excited to see students from her alma mater recognized, Smith offered Foley and others on the Badger team the chance to learn more about a career with the beauty retailer. Foley jumped at the opportunity, spending the past summer as a merchandising intern at Sephora experiencing how dynamic the industry is, learning what it takes to be a successful beauty brand and building lasting relationships.

“Without the NRF Foundation Student Challenge, I would not have been able to meet the people I did,” Foley says. “This one case competition turned into multi-faceted connections and amazing opportunities.”

Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country and provided unique opportunities for students to develop professional relationships with top executives in the retail industry.

This year’s top Student Challenge team will be announced at the NRF Foundation Honors on Jan. 12, 2020. Make your plans now to join us for this must-attend event and support retail’s future.