What is the future of Marketing education and what are businesses looking for in our marketing graduates?

Business BreakfastThis was the topic of our enlightening and interactive discussion in this year’s Marketing Business Breakfast event at the University of Bristol.

In a rapidly changing era of new business models, changing stakeholders, new technologies and marketing purpose, it can be challenging for marketing graduates to understand what businesses are looking for and, similarly, for marketing recruiters to understand what students today have to offer.

We asked three Marketing experts to discuss, ‘Making Marketing Education fit for the Future’ in a lively Marketing Business Breakfast event, on Tuesday 25 May. Hosted by the Professional Liaison Network and School of Management our three expert panelists were; Myriam Sidibe, Chief Mission Officer and Founder of Brands on a Mission; Chris Thurling, Chairman of Armadillo; and Agnes Nairn, Professor of Marketing at the University of Bristol.

Watch the event recording here.

Myriam shared her insights on the power of ‘brands’ with a strong social mission.  She explained how these brands can form a “mutually beneficial relationship with their consumers that we can all profit from.” She went on to say that brands “not only sell something to consumers, but can solve some of the world’s issues in the process.”

Chris shared what his business looks for in its staff; “soft skills and high levels of emotional intelligence, communication and interpersonal skills.”  Chris also highlighted that, “character traits such as resilience, self-motivation, self-awareness, empathy, grit and determination are all vital in sustaining the performance of our business.”

Agnes shared her views on what skills University of Bristol marketing students should be equipped with when they graduate and throughout their careers. She spoke about the importance of “walking in other people’s shoes, being curious about new technologies and understanding the impacts you can make as a marketer.”

The event was attended by around 40 guests from a wide-range of organisations including Unilever, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Heroes for Change as well as colleagues from Bristol.

The presentations sparked a very lively and interactive discussion which gave us all lots of food for thought.

Questions from the floor included:

“To what extent is student’s development of their own personal purpose important in their education?”

 “Do our graduates feel confident in tackling societal issues?”

 “What do you think will be the greatest challenge in Marketing going forward?”

Myriam questioned who gets to decide what a societal issue is.  “What can a deodorant do to address toxic masculinity? These are the kind of values that start becoming clearer in terms of aligning one’s purpose, but not discounting the role that the business model can perform in terms of driving and solving some of these issues. How do you get the consumer to be more of a co-creator so that the consumer can be more discerning in terms of what makes a really good purpose and mission so that the marketer working on that gets even more reward?”

Perhaps the greatest challenge will be rapidly changing technology.  Chris noted that it is “almost impossible for educational institutions to design curricula that can train staff in specific technology; as soon as you have designed the course, people will have graduated and probably those tools aren’t even being used anymore.”

So how do we prepare students to be successful marketers? Agnes concluded that Universities need, above all to, “instil in our students the drive to be ‘curious’. That mindset that is going to stay with them forever.”  She also said that Universities should encourage students to “take advantage of everything on offer to them in and out of the classroom.”

For us at the University of Bristol, collaboration with our partners in local businesses, charities and international corporations is essential for supporting marketers of the future. Mentoring, Placements, Research Assistantships and Collaborative Research allow invaluable co-production of opportunities.  We will continue having these conversations to ensure that together we make Marketing Education Fit for the Future.

To find out how you can join our network, contact the Professional Liaison Network at fssl-pln@bristol.ac.uk and check out our website