Professor Mike Tesler, Adjunct Lecturer, Marketing
By Jenna Van Dam and Taylor Murphy
You don’t have to spend very much time with Professor Mike Tesler to realize just how passionate and knowledgeable he is about retailing. With experience as a merchandising executive at a large department store as well as owning and operating a successful regional chain of specialty clothing stores, Professor Tesler has come to know the ins and outs of the industry.
Today, he is president and resident “Veteran Shopper” at Retail Concepts, a marketing and consulting firm that specializes in everything from strategic planning to merchandising for small retailers. Check out our interview with him below!
Her Campus Bentley: How does owning your own business translate into how you teach your students?
Mike Tesler: Because what I teach is what I do, my business helps to keep me timely and fully abreast of all that is happening in retailing. At Retail Concepts we do a variety of projects for all types of retailers but often we are teaching newcomers to the business how to plan and open a successful retail business, and that is similar to what I am teaching in MK344.
HCB: What advice do you have for students who want to enter into the retailing industry but don’t know where to start?
MT: Get out and visit the businesses that interest you...network and research and find out as much as you can about those retailers. Make a list and create a "game plan.” Work at getting a job and don't be dependent on others to do things for you. Contact companies directly. Network some more. Be resourceful and creative in your efforts. Be positive and confident in your abilities and your education. Never quit. Continue to network. Find Bentley alumni who are working in retailing and ask for informational interviews with them. Ask them about their companies and what they do. Ask them who they know in other retail companies that you can talk to and while doing so impress them with how much you have learned about the business and how enthusiastic you are about a career. Remember that you are competing, so plan to win, but you will only win if you compete in a very persistent yet totally positive and professional manner.
HCB: What is the most memorable experience you’ve had during your career?
MT: Every day is exciting and memorable for me. There are always new things to learn and new stores to look at. When I owned my own stores, I was involved in designing and manufacturing merchandise and when that hit the stores and sold out, it was very exciting. Also, seeing employees that I trained move on to high-level positions in larger companies was rewarding. Now, I love seeing our clients open stores that are winners. I have watched several Bentley students go to New York and become buyers for well-known companies ...it is a great feeling to have played a very small part in their careers.
HCB: What news outlets or retail related websites do you regularly read? How do you stay up-to-date in this fast-paced industry?
MT: I read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal online daily. I follow several retail sites including Retail Wire, Retail Sails, NRF (National Retail Federation), Stores magazine and also many others via Twitter and Facebook. I visit stores daily, and wherever I go in my work and travels I always make time to follow retail news and look at stores.
HCB: What is the most important thing students can take away from your retailing class, regardless of their major?
MT: That it is important to be flexible and embrace change, both in business and in your personal life. It will keep your business fresh and growing, and as a person it will keep you thinking and feeling young.