In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members who have completed our MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics, to understand the importance of life long learning, and upskilling in times of uncertainty.

For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Fiona Whelan CMO and Director of Sponsorship Abodoo and Swim Ireland.

MII: Hi Fiona, in your own words how would you describe the MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics?

The MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics is a programme which seamlessly blends theory and application to provide students with both the academic and practical knowledge needed to succeed in business today. The structure of the programme is developed to challenge the student, and that it does, with a mix of both individual and group assignments alongside exams. That said, the interaction between students and lecturers mean you gain an appreciation of different viewpoints and insights which for me was of particular value. The focus on analytics however, is for me, the real strength of the course, and a USP when compared with similar courses I researched. My appreciation of the power of data and the insights it provides grew throughout the course and it is a skill I continue to nourish and grow.

Why did you decide to complete the programme?

Prior to enrolling in the MSc programme, I firstly completed the Executive Diploma in Strategic Digital Marketing. I had been itching to get back to formal learning, having previously completed 2 degrees, and this course piqued my interest as a good first step. On completion of the diploma, I was eager to learn more and having researched the options available decided that the MSc was by far the best option for me. It was the mix of strategy with practical application, alongside the focus on analytics and insights which provided the winning combination.

What aspects of the programme did you like?

There were lots of elements of the programme that I really enjoyed, some of which came as a big surprise. I developed a love of data and analytics and this is most definitely the part of the course I enjoyed most. The module on predictive analytics which although daunting at the start is an area I feel I gained the most from and one which I continue to develop my skills in. I also enjoyed the mix of group projects mixed with individual assignments and that we worked alongside real companies, providing them with insights and solutions to the challenges they were facing. We were very fortunate to work with some fantastic clients and it is great to see how well they are now doing. Balancing team and individual assignments also forced me to become a better time manager in order to give equal attention to both. It is something which I haven’t always been good at but which saw great improvement over the course of the programme.

Would you recommend the programme and why?

I would most definitely recommend the programme for many of the reasons outlined above. The course provides a balance between the academic and the practical and affords you the opportunity to build a virtual portfolio of clients, which can be beneficial when looking to climb the career ladder. The course forces you to challenge yourself, how you think, how you look at data and how you use it. These are skills of value across all industry verticals and job types.

How will you incorporate your new found knowledge into your current role?

I have been working with data a lot more since completing the course and I embrace it with a new found confidence. I enjoy been able to interrogate information and still have that voice in my head telling me “don’t just ask what the data is telling you but also what it is not telling you.” It is one of my big takeaways but something that is often forgotten. I also have incorporated many of the strategic elements of the course and challenge myself to be more innovative in the solutions I now seek out.

How did you find studying and completing the programme during a global pandemic?

It seems a little cliched now to say it was a bit of a rollercoaster year, and one we could never have predicted. That said once we adapted to the online classes, I for one, didn’t experience any additional challenges or issues. The college ensured that we still had full access to the virtual library for assignments and all lecturers made themselves available should we need additional help or require further explanations. We also received support from the Marketing Institute so we were assisted on all sides. Interestingly, it also helped me feel more connected with my group and peers. We were all in the same boat and regularly carved out time to chat and support each other.

How important do you think lifelong learning is to the marketing profession?

I am a firm believer that you can never know enough and lifelong learning is an absolute must. I enjoy challenging myself and learning new skills. Benjamin Franklin once said: “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” So to succeed in the fast-paced marketing industry, you have to stay ahead of the game. The marketing landscape is dynamic and always changing – trends, technology and tactics are never stagnant. It is imperative that we are as educated as possible and lead the way. The pandemic, in particular, has highlighted how consumer behaviour has changed based on new circumstances, so how we respond to that also has to change.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the programme?

It can be dauting when considering a return to education but what you will get out of it is so rewarding and you will be glad you did it. The programme, I believe is at the forefront of learning for those interested in pursuing or developing their career in the marketing space.