News and Insights

Exceptional List of Guest Speakers Join the Apprenticeship Programme

This semester there was a jampacked schedule with guest speakers joining every Year 1 and Year 2 module delivered as part of the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision programme.   Since commencing the delivery of the apprenticeship programme we have been committed to bringing Irish leading minds in as guest speakers and this semester has been no different.

From September 2021 to November 2021 the line-up of guest speakers included:

Sandra McCormackSandra Mc Cormack, Group General Manager at the Thomas Ennis Retail Group. Sandra is a regular Guest Speaker on the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision. She has completed the Retail Management Practice Degree with Retail Ireland Skillnet and is a huge advocate for work-based learning. Sandra gave a brilliant talk on the importance of Commercial Awareness to Year 1 apprentices studying the Retail Supervision 1 module. Sandra talked about retail basics and asked questions of the apprentices such as:

    • Do you know how your company makes money?
    • Do you know who your customers are?
    • Do you understand key performance indicators (KPIs)?
    • Why is it important to think for yourself and get stuff done?

Sandra’s talk was incredibly practical and reminded the apprentices of the fundamentals of great retailing.

Carina Monteith 2 2-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetCarina McLaughlin, MD Team Bride . Carina has over 15 years experience in communications strategy, community management, sponsorship management, employee engagement, brand amplification, digital analysis, and content creation and curation.  Working for many years in retail she also has experience working in the pharmaceutical, FMCG, and clinical research sectors. Carina joined the Year 1 apprentices as part of the Retail Customer Experience module and talked to apprentices about customer experience online and how to engage with customers using social media platforms. Apprentices all acknowledged the importance of digital customer experience and found the practical insights very engaging.

Head Shot1 002-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetAlison Allen was the guest speaker for the Year 2 module on Retail Loss Prevention.  Alison has worked for 25 years in the retail sector, she has worked as a Part-Time Lecturer, she has held the position as Vice-Chairperson of the Irish Loss Prevention Forum and has completed academic research on the topic of loss prevention in retail. Alison provided the apprentices with a very engaging talk on different aspects of internal and external retail loss. For many apprentices this was their first time being exposed to loss prevention, so they found the real-world context provided by Alison to be very insightful.

Professional Picture Elizabeth McKenzie scaled 1 1-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetElizabeth McKenzie, Lecturer of Culinary Arts at Letterkenny Institute of Technology joined the Year 2 apprentices studying Food Safety and HACCP. Elizabeth gave a very informative talk to apprentices on consumers’ perceptions with regards to hygiene and their expectations. We have a significant number of apprentices working in the grocery, forecourt, and food services sectors studying on the programme and they found Elizabeth’s talk to be very informative.

This semester we were delighted to welcome two guest speakers from Boots Ireland to talk to the apprentices studying Retail Pharmacy in Year 2.

Aisling Odonnell-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetAisling O’Donnell, Community Pharmacist, Boots Ireland . Aisling delivered a highly informative and engaging session to apprentices, covering different aspects of community pharmacy including the HSE, Pharmacy Act 2007, requirements on becoming and maintaining registration as a pharmacist, Superintendent and Supervising Pharmacist roles, Core Competency Framework, and Code of Conduct. The real-world practical insights gave apprentices working in the pharmacy sector a new appreciation of the role of the pharmacist and legal obligations.

Lisa Buckley-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetLisa Buckley, Community Pharmacist, Boots Ireland. Lisa provided apprentices with a new understanding of the structure of community pharmacy in Ireland and the role of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. Lisa talked about the importance of patient safety in a community pharmacy, knowledge of a community pharmacy business layout, retail managers accountabilities, and the importance of bringing retail best practices to the pharmacy sector.

We are incredibly grateful to Aisling, Lisa, and Boots Ireland for their support in the delivery of the Retail Pharmacy module.

Joe Kearns-Retail-Ireland-SkillnetJoe Kearns from Joe Kearns Consultancy  Joe joined the Year 2 Apprentices for the delivery of the Retail Merchandising module. Joe has a wealth of knowledge of the retail sector, having worked  in Superquinn, ACNielsen, and Diageo. Joe’s talk centred around the topic of how to drive and maximise footfall in retail.  He talked about the importance of having the 3 R’s Right Range, Right Place, and Right Space. Joe’s talk provided the apprentices with great practical tips which they could put into action within their own business.

Looking ahead to Semester two commencing in January 2022, we have another fantastic line-up of guest speakers joining the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision programme.

If you are a retailer and would like to find out more information on the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision programme, get in touch by sending us an email to

Applications for the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision programme in Dublin, Galway and Cork starting in classroom September 2022, will commence February 2022.

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Exceptional List of Guest Speakers Join the Apprenticeship Programme

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