University graduates ‘unprepared for marketing world’

Most university students who complete a degree “are not prepared at all” for the world of marketing, a Sydney breakfast event has heard.

Prompted by a discussion on the role of degrees in creating good marketers, James Diamond, managing director of Integral Ad Science told the International Advertising Association’s event those entering the discipline are “underprepared” as courses fail to keep up with the latest thinking.

The panel this morning (L-R): Corin Dimopoulos, James Diamond, Anthony Hourigan, Suzie Shaw and Liz Harley. Moderated by Darren Woolley.

“My experience is that most of the people who have come with an undergraduate degree that I see are not prepared at all for the world of marketing as it actually exists,” he told the audience.

“One of the reasons for that – if you look at some of the big issues we have in marketing today, even if with the right course of content for that today, it’s three years before it actually gets taught to students – best case.”

He said learnings about digital, for example, would be “irrelevant” in three years time.

“The people who are coming out of university now with marketing degrees, they don’t know anything about programmatic, they don’t know anything about how to negotiate a media contract or how to deal with issues with transparency as an example. Those things are not covered at all.”

But Diamond said while there was still a point to completing a marketing degree: “There’s huge value in doing it because it helps you develop a discipline and hopefully develop curiosity for understanding what’s important.”

However he noted: “They are underprepared and the question – well where you are going get that information.”

Liz Harley, managing director at Ipsos Connect said “getting your hands dirty” was important.

“This industry is so dynamic that every three years in my experience the industry seems to do a bit of a 360 in terms of the changes, the issues, the things that we’re into, resolve, the tools that we need to measure it to provide evidence of if things are working or not working,” she said.

Diamond added: “Maybe undergraduate degrees prepare marketers for the more senior roles they’ll get later on in life, more than prepare them for the role they are probably going to get at the start.”

Headhunter Anthony Hourigan said a degree in marketing is helpful but not essential.

“We are certainly looking for an undergraduate degree qualification, there’s no doubt about that. But whether it’s marketing or something else is totally irrelevant,” he said.

“To say you must have a marketing degree is not the right way to go about it.”


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