The National Retail Association (NRA) has awarded its most prestigious annual award, the 2015 Young Retailer of the Year, at a gala dinner in Sydney overnight.

Frenchs Forest’s Medina Cicak, a 24-yo Graduate Leader – Human Resource Officer and RSC Generalist for Yum! Restaurants International for KFC Australia, became an award finalist for the third year in a row, but this year made it through a grueling four-stage judging process to beat 24 other finalists to take the top gong.

Ms Cicak said winning the award would give her the unprecedented chance to grow her leadership skills and help build a network within the broader retail sector that could then filter down throughout her teams within KFC Australia. 

“Understanding what was outside of just my little bit of retail was what inspired me to apply for the Young Retailer of the Year Award,” Ms Cicak said.

“Starting out in retail when you are 15, you only know what you have been taught, so being able to venture out and experience the broader retail sector is what motivated me to apply. What has kept me here is understanding how much an impact the Young Retailer of the Year program has to me personally,” she said. 

The young winner had some timely advice to other young retailers thinking about applying next year.

“Do it. Take the chance and put yourself out there, see the bigger picture, give yourself the opportunity to see what is out there,” she said.

As part of her 2015 NRA Young Retailer of the Year prize package, Ms Cicak will take up a coveted place on Westfield’s 2016 World Retail Study Tour, where she will spend two weeks immersed in the very best retail has to offer, learning from a number of retail executives seeking the latest trends and management techniques.

“Being recognised for this award is a testament to why we should stay within this industry,” she said.

NRA CEO Trevor Evans said the future leaders had demonstrated that to compete and prosper in this challenging market, they had to be savvy in all areas.

“They are proving that the retail industry can fulfil Gen Y’s desire for a dynamic and exciting career,” Mr Evans said.

“We are extremely proud of all our young retailers, as well as the collective achievements of the broader retail sector. Together, we are strengthening the industry for a brighter and more prosperous future.”

Other winners awarded overnight include:

Runner Up:  Laura Conquer, 25, Property Graduate, Coles, Hawthorn East VIC

Scholarship Award: Gemma Kariotoglou, 24, Store Manager, Fossil Group, Castle Hill NSW

Leadership Award: Scott Philips, 24, Store Manager, Kmart, Toormina NSW

Rising Star Award: Tammy Drew, 21, Department Manager, Target, Success WA

The NRA Young Retailer of the Year Awards program has been around for almost half a century, allowing retailers to acknowledge that today’s youth will become tomorrow’s leaders. By showcasing young retailers’ passion for the industry, the NRA’s awards program gives employers a chance to recognise and reward their go-getting employees on a national scale.

The NRA Awards program is highest national accolade in the industry, and serves to acknowledge excellence in ambition, leadership and innovation in staff under 25 within the retail discipline.