What does a lecturer at TU Dublin do?
My role as a lecturer is to teach undergraduates and postgraduates using innovative and engaging teaching techniques to bring marketing to life and to help students be more commercially aware and civic minded. Well that’s the official line from my job description!
I love trying to ignite a spark in student’s learning and to ensure that they work on projects which they find interesting, relevant and also achieve learning outcomes. The last thing I want students to be doing is dreading coming to my classes! This year the Marketing Institute - TU Dublin Postgraduate students worked on a marketing plan for a CSR client which they then presented to a panel at the end of the semester – the client was delighted with their output. I also worked with students on a reusable coffee cup marketing project this year. Another cohort created a digital marketing plan and groups raised over €4.5K. I also love teaching through Problem Based Learning which is a student centred approach where students learn about a subject through solving an open ended brief with no defined solution. It’s an approach that started in medical education. Every year I work on a live company brief which gives students an opportunity to work in groups on a real world problem. They always find the projects daunting to begin with but it is my job to bring them along the journey and facilitate their learning. I find there is always a great sense of achievement for both students and company as well as myself.
We also have a focus on research informed teaching here in TU Dublin and carrying out research that is relevant to industry. I am interested in researching organisations in relationships and have published output in that area. At the minute I’m working on a digital trust project with two colleagues – we have recently been awarded funding so that is a focus a present. I also supervise at an undergraduate and postgraduate level. This year I am supervising some really interesting dissertations in the area of CSR, virtual brand communities and the effectiveness of augmented reality and immersive marketing. Part of my role is also bringing industry into the classroom and I regularly organise guest speakers to come in to talk to students. In the past we have had AIM winners in and representatives from Google in giving masterclasses and YouTube talking about the power of video. I also make a point of attending conferences such as the Web Summit and DMX and bringing my learnings back into the classroom.
What route did you take to this role, i.e. what did you study in college, experience on the way?
I did European Studies and French in Queen’s in Belfast originally not really intending to go onto future study. However, I ended up doing a graduate management development programme and got some commercial experience which got me thinking about a career in sales and marketing. After doing an internship in the European Commission in Brussels, I came down to Dublin in July 2001 to work for a market research company and completed an MBS in Strategic International Marketing part time in DCU. At that stage I knew that being a lecturer was a career possibility for me but I needed to get more experience under my belt. So after 3 years in sales and marketing in Cadbury, I jumped into the world of academia. I was awarded a scholarship to do a PhD and then finally got a job as a lecturer in the now TU Dublin. I have also completed a postgraduate diploma in teaching in learning which has allowed more to reflect on my teaching practices and articulate my teaching philosophy.
How important do you think continued upskilling and education is to marketing?
Of course as a lecturer I am going to say that education is really important! However, marketing is changing so rapidly – particularly in the area of technology and digital marketing so it is really important to continue to be current and up to date with what’s going on. I do recommend that people do make a commitment to themselves to do some sort of CPD annually –whether that is a day long seminar, a short course, a module or a postgraduate programme.
What benefits can attendees hope to obtain from attending training programmes?
I work on two programmes with the Marketing Institute – the Postgraduate Diploma and the MSc in Management and Marketing. It is an exciting opportunity for non-business graduates to convert into business graduates and then gain a deeper specialism in an area that interests them – such as digital marketing or measuring marketing effectiveness. Every year, I see graduates of the programme gaining in confidence in delivering presentations, writing marketing plans and successfully changing career. The postgraduate diploma allows non-business graduates to “step in” or “step up” in marketing and we have plenty of testimonials from past graduates who have changed career or got a promotion as the result of the programme.
What do you consider as the key criteria for learning to be effective?
I regularly supervise MBA students and part time Masters students who have full time jobs and families as well as trying to do an educational qualification part time. Over the years I have seen the most effective learners as those who break things down into chunks – they would maybe read a journal article on the train or listen to a podcast on the commute into work. The most effective students are also those who use technology wisely – in this day and age,technology can make group work much more effective and reduce the amount of meetings and different versions of assignments.
Getting blocks of time are also critical. Here I speak from experience – when I was trying to complete my PhD, with a toddler and a baby, as well as working the day job as a lecturer (and also a husband who was back being a student -that’s a story for another day), I was beating myself up that I wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted to – it was actually impossible to dip in and out every day except to download articles or to tidy up the formatting on a document. What I did do was plan well in advance and carve out longer blocks of time –such as bank holiday weekends to really focus on writing and the meatier stuff. And also to pull down the shutters on a Saturday when the sun was streaming through the windows and I was trying to get my analysis done!
What do you believe are the challenges facing marketers today?
There are so many challenges facing marketers today. In the classroom I hear students talk about the challenges they’re dealing with. Being authentic. Being trusted. Being accountable and understanding what elements of your campaigns are working and what aren’t working. Ensuring you are investing in the right marketing technology. Managing data.
How important is education in terms of career progression for marketers?
Again, I see it as super important. It provides evidence that you are actively interested in furthering your career by embarking on professional development activities. Also, in the past we’ve had students who have embarked on a programme as they haven’t got a business qualification and have found themselves not getting short listed for a job they wanted. Or perhaps their manager has suggested it to them at their annual appraisal. Also, I regularly get phone calls from people who may have graduated a good number of years ago and want to complete a programme so they have an up to date qualification so they can go for a promotion they’re interested in.
And finally to whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
In my current role, I would say Laura Cuddihy has constantly inspired and encouraged me every step of the way – she is so positive and student centred I always feel I can take on the world after a conversation or a coffee with her. I also work with a fabulous bunch of lecturers in TU Dublin who inspire me every day at the kind of projects that they’re devising for students or the research that they’re carrying out that is really relevant to industry practitioners.
I haven’t seen him in years but a pearl of wisdom from Brian O’Sullivan who is now CEO of Fulfil Nutrition quite often rings in my ears. At a company conference around fifteen years ago (which has gone in the blink of an eye by the way), he made the point that if you’re not jumping out of bed to go to work then you’re in the wrong job which has stuck with me ever since. I am delighted to report that I am definitely still jumping out of bed in the morning twelve years in. There’s life in the old girl yet!
Dr Lesley Murphy is a lecturer on the Marketing Institute’s Postgraduate Diploma in
Management & Marketing, starting this September. More details on mii.ie/page/PGDiplomaMarketing