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Future-proofing talent in the ever-changing marketing landscape

BY MARC GHOSN, Managing Director, Wavemaker UAE

As British-American philosopher Alan W. Watts famously once said “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, movewith it and join the dance”. Change in this industry is constant and it continually spreads wide across the landscape making marketing communications more and more complex and diffiuclt to navigate. This new reality is as exciting as it is challenging. In the midst of this rapid evolution is the need for existing education programs and curriculums to keep up and continue to iterate to ensure they are enabling future candidates for the workforce as they commence their careers in the industry. This changing reality requires a dynamic process of constant learning and updating your knowledge and skills to keep up with the new developments across the communication ecosystem from ad tech to paid social to influencer marketing to brand safety and the list goes on.

At Wavemaker our role is designed to service our client needs to ensure their brands grow. We build our abilities around servicing them in a rapidly changing landscape. To deliver on this ongoing promise and future proof our offering we must supply a readiness of talent and nurture expert capability so that we produce work for our clients which drives their bottom line. The recruited fresh graduates come prepared with theoretical knowledge but little on changing dynamics of marketing world.

Educators in the region must strive to better connect their university programs with industry practitioners, platforms and technologies to help translate learning into hands on experiences and hard skills for students who can then apply with affect to the day to day real world of marketing once they commence employment.
How can we as an industry address this challenge here in the region? Probably a revival of curriculum in partnership with companies.

Today, STUKENT in the US is pioneering the experiential learning academia across 1,406 universities in over 47 countries worldwide. It is the number one digital marketing simulation program that gives aspiring students the hands-on practical tuition they require to equip themselves for entering this challenging fast paced workforce. Through cutting edge tools like Mimic Pro and Mimic Social they create live test-bed environments where  students can navigate the backend of key biddable media systems like PPC and paid social using simulated budgets to deliver effective results and business outcomes. This vital experience helps students to better understand the business impact of their digital marketing decisions in a controlled environment. They test and learn different tactics and buying methods across multiple platforms and formats including Google search, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. Students create and schedule content, promote it under different objectives using test budgets and then measure the results using dashboard analytics.

Integrating this digital into existing university courseware programs in the region can evolve marketing education beyond the bounds of traditional textbook publishing and theory to enable graduates with hands-on resources which keep them in-step with the fast-paced industry and moving forward in academia too. This iterative approach to learning means students can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

To further build on this development local media owners and the main tech players operating in market could bring regular talks and seminars into the curriculums and workshop fundamentals so that students can better understand the modern digital landscape and become certified in the required hard skills that will continue to drive the industry forward. This was recently demonstrated when Facebook and Wavemaker MENA
collaborated to bring the Facebook Blueprint accreditation to the students of the American University in Dubai. This certification was invaluable for aspiring students as it recognizes advanced-level proficiency in planning and buying amongst Facebook’s products and services, helps them earn credentials which distinguish themselves in the world of digital marketing by becoming a Facebook certified professional. This is a great initiative that should snowball more courseware collaborations with industry stalwarts from the region like Google, YouTube, Salesforce, Oracle, Amazon and Choueiri. This would help expand the curriculum and connect to the communications happenings in the industry that are leveraging technology developments and building business across the GCC. The natural extension of these relationships would be to involve clients and
brands to bring case work and sample briefs into the course program where students could compete and pitch for simulated projects and get to showcase their skills and thinking to a large audience of recognized industry practitioners and future employers. The winning work could then be showcased across the recommended
media channels and formats to engage the masses and publicize the course and align it more directly with modern communications.

To prepare future students to enter the industry we must focus on bringing experience learning, certification and qualification to the academic offering