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 Rob Mullen, Founder and Director, Category First Services, and recipient for the Gold medal award for the programme.

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

The MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics programme is at the forefront of learning for those interested in developing their marketing skills and who want to understand the importance and power of analytics in business. It is a challenging but enjoyable programme that combines strategic thinking with tactical know-how. The learning approach is balanced nicely, using academic theory, practical understanding and real-world problem-solving techniques that allows participants to gain a 360-degree view of all the elements that are essential to grow their digital marketing and analytical knowledge. The programme nicely mixes individual and group learning through which the participants are introduced to digital marketing thought leadership as well as an essential range of analytical tools and techniques that will drive competency and capability in marketing.

Why did you decide to complete the programme?

I completed my first marketing degree when digital marketing did not even exist! I recognised the shift in the availability of different data types and how this data was being used to create compelling business insights to help inform company strategies. Therefore, the reason I signed up for the Masters is that I wanted to challenge myself to enhance my learning on all aspects of digital marketing and then use these newly acquired skills to help my newly formed consultancy business grow.

What aspects of the programme did you like?

I really enjoyed three aspects of the programme. The first was the interactive learning nature of the sessions for each of the subjects. I found that lecturers were skilled at grounding each topic in practical, industry relevant examples that drove learning and understanding, particularly because all class members were encouraged to voice opinions and contribute to each topic. Interactive learning was further enhanced by occasional guest lecturers who are typically industry experts. Secondly, the group and individual project assessments had us working with a wide range of companies from differing industry sectors. This brought real benefit because it gave me the chance to apply new learnings to real world issues for companies who operate outside of markets that I would not normally be exposed to. Finally, I thought the summer school was excellent because I gained a valuable understanding of the power of predictive analytics.

Would you recommend the programme and why?

I would recommend the programme to anyone who wants to learn about best practice digital marketing strategy and to those who wish to learn the true value and importance of digital analytics. The knowledge gained relating to the power of analytics to produce compelling and actionable insights and to aid business decision making is invaluable and can be tested by working with companies that want to use this expertise.

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

I have already started to incorporate some learnings to help the clients I work with and to develop my company. I run a small business to business company called Category First Services that mainly specialises in category management consultancy for consumer packed goods clients. I have found that I can add further value by using digital marketing techniques to help clients with consumer and shopper research through descriptive and predictive data analytics. I can now use the skills acquired to promote my business services effectively across the relevant digital and social channels. I am currently in the process of adding new services including strategic digital marketing planning.

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

The pandemic has meant that we all must forego elements of our social activity to one extent or another. Bizarrely, the studying had the effect of limiting the impact of missing out on activities that would have happened otherwise. The ‘Zoom fatigue’ set in at times, particularly after long days working on the laptop, however this was counterbalanced by a reduction in the need to commute for lectures or group project meetings. Probably the toughest pandemic driven disappointment was losing out on the opportunity to celebrate each milestone achievement along the way.

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

I think it is essential. The pace of change in the global marketplace is phenomenal as consumers adapt to new technologies and develop different purchasing behaviours. In my opinion marketers need to lead the way in developing appropriate strategies that anticipate, predict and plan for these changes. The tools and techniques to assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns have become more accessible and it is important that marketers develop the necessary skills to utilise these and then plan accordingly to continuously meet consumers needs and wants. A growth mindset is an important marketing competency that will facilitate lifelong learning.

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

This Masters programme is full of opportunity. It provides the platform to learn the cutting-edge principles of digital marketing and analytics but will also provide additional value that will benefit anyone working in business. Included in this are personal development opportunities like reflective learning and resilience skills plus the opportunity to make fresh business connections and acquaintances.