Our Team

 

Scott Benedict
Director, Center for Retailing Studies

Scott is an accomplished retail executive with more than 35 years of experience spanning traditional brick-and-mortar, eCommerce & omnichannel, and international, retailing. Scott began his retailing career working in a retail store before moving into a corporate merchandising setting. The bulk of his buying career was spent in general merchandise focused on Consumer Electronics, Office Products and Entertainment Media. Scott was also heavily involved in new business development, buyer training & development, and succession planning during his retail career. Leveraging extensive experience in retail business strategy, process refinement, and multichannel eCommerce, Scott has helped his employers to control operating costs, seize opportunities to increase operational efficiencies, and optimize profits while serving customers across multiple business channels. His broad areas of expertise include supplier performance management, retail merchandising, product marketing, inventory management, omnichannel strategy and competitive price strategy.

Scott spent a large portion of his career in the Walmart organization, and was a member of the team that started Walmart.com in 1997. He spent the majority of his Walmart career in the Sam’s Club organization in a number of merchandising and eCommerce roles. In addition to Walmart, Scott has held positions at Best Buy, Service Merchandise and Montgomery Ward, and was most recently the Divisional Merchandise Manager for Health, Beauty & Grocery at Groupon in Chicago.

Scott attained his bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television from Arkansas State University. As a seasoned panelist and speaker, Scott has served on a judging panel for the 2017 Walton MBA Case Competition at the University of Arkansas, spoke at the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit, and served as moderator at the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce Wall Street Speaker Series. Scott has also been a guest lecturer at the University of Arkansas’ Walton School of Business.

Scott’s wife Rhonda is also a former buyer and had a 30-year retailing career at Walmart, Service Merchandise and TG&Y Stores in Oklahoma City. Scott and Rhonda’s daughter Nicole is a 2018 graduate of the University of Arkansas with dual degrees in history & political science. Their son Jacob will begin his college career this fall at the Arkansas Sam M. Walton School of Business.


 

Lauren Osborne
Assistant Director, Center for Retailing Studies

Lauren joined the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) as Program Coordinator in 2013. She was promoted to Program Manager in 2016, and Assistant Director in 2019.

In this capacity, she oversees the planning, development and implementation of CRS programs including but not limited to: annual Retailing Summit in Dallas, two Retailing Career Fairs each year, Executive Professor Program, M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series and company showcase days. Lauren is the Advisor to the Student Retailing Association, one of the largest student groups within Mays Business School comprised of over 60 members, and helps the organization connect with company leaders and retail executives. She is also a key liaison for CRS partners regarding campus engagement, recruitment, and sponsorship of the Center. Additionally, Lauren is the Advisor to the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar program. In this role, Lauren helps create and plan their professional development workshops each semester, leads the group’s annual Market Tour in New York City, and provides general career and life coaching.

After earning her degree from Texas A&M University in 2006, Lauren began her career as an Executive Meeting & Sales Manager in the hotel industry working at properties in Texas, Florida and Mississippi. Following a relocation to Bryan/College Station, she served as the Director of Development for a local nonprofit organization before joining the Center.

Lauren brings over 13 years of program management experience to the Center for Retailing Studies and Department of Marketing. She was a recipient of the Mays Star Performer award in 2015 and 2019, and was named Advisor of the Year for Texas A&M University from the Division of Student Affairs in 2018. In her spare time she enjoys being with her husband Dave and their children, Samuel and Emersyn, as well as their dog Luca Belle.


 

Andrew Vernon
Communications Specialist, Center for Retailing Studies

Andrew joined the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) in 2017.

In this capacity, Andrew helps make CRS world-famous. He oversees the creation of engaging and relevant content for articles, presentations, newsletters, social media, website, photography, and video for multiple audiences to promote the CRS brand. He handles visual, digital, print, and speaker content for the Retailing Summit. Additionally, Andrew manages the CRS database platform, ensures that CRS complies with Mays and Texas A&M brand standards, and serves on the Mays Communication Committee. He has also grown CRS’s presence on social media.

Andrew is a graduate of Texas A&M, where he earned a degree in Communication in 2007. Previously, he worked in digital communications with Clear Channel Radio, before returning to Aggieland in 2013 to begin his career at A&M as a communications specialist with the College of Liberal Arts.

On his own time, Andrew is a passionate guitar player with a strong love of music and connecting that with people. He also enjoys time with his wife Kasey, their son Matthew, and loyal dog Maggie.


 

Venkatesh Shankar
Director of Research, Center for Retailing Studies
Coleman Chair Professor of Marketing

Venkatesh (Venky) Shankar is Coleman Chair Professor of Marketing and Director of Research at the Center for Retailing Studies, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. His areas of specialization include digital business, marketing strategy, innovation, retailing, international marketing, and pricing.

He has been recognized as one among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds by Thomson Reuters and as a Top 10 scholar worldwide on innovation. He is a three-time winner of the Krowe Award for outstanding teaching. He has been a visiting faculty at MIT, INSEAD, Singapore Management University, SDA Bocconi, Chinese European International Business School, and the Indian School of Business. He was selected as the 2014 Guru to deliver the Guruspeak lecture across India. He is a Research Fellow of Northwestern University’s Retail Analytics Council. Venky has a Ph.D. in marketing from the Kellogg School, Northwestern University.


 

Mary Zimmer
Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing

Courses:
MKTG 322, Consumer Behavior
MKTG 325, Retail Concepts & Policies