The global pandemic has shed light on the importance of strategic marketing in order to survive in business.
For recent 2019 and 2020 master’s of marketing grads, their biggest challenges — and achievements — have been navigating the marketing challenges posed by the pandemic.
Launching new products, leading major campaigns across 20 countries, and landing international marketing roles are just a few accomplishments that alumni have racked up since the pandemic’s beginning.
To learn more about the master’s in marketing experience, Poets&Quants interviewed 12 alumni from 12 schools across the world.
For Philip S. Miller, the pandemic offered an opportunity to use his marketing skills learned at the University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management. As the owner of two businesses, Crull Fitness and PM3 Sports, 2020 was a difficult year. “Sports leagues went on pause. Gyms became labeled in the news as dangerous places and breeding grounds of COVID-19,” he says. “But I was able to pivot my business and turn it into a rental company. I rented out gym equipment on a membership basis in addition to hiring out traveling personal trainers and coaches. By doing so I was able to have all my employees fully paid in 2020, never miss a paycheck, and pay all rent and utilities in full and on time.”
While Miller’s strategic pivots allowed him to thrive during this unprecedented time, Texas A&M University’s Avery Fowler is proud of the impact she made on others as Accenture’s strategy and consulting analyst. “I have been able to help people whose lives, homes, and jobs have been affected by both natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year has affected people in so many unimaginable ways, and I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to help others.”
For these grads, a specialized degree has paid off. While a traditional MBA provides broad business knowledge, a master’s of marketing may give students with a competitive edge in the workforce.
MARKETING OR AN MBA?
Steven Posovac, master of marketing faculty director at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, says that most students enter their master’s of marketing program wanting a deeper skill set before entering the job market. “The master’s of marketing grads’ career path is indistinguishable from MBAs because they quickly roll up through the managerial hierarchy and do well,” he says.
Posavac says that a master’s of marketing student has different goals than that of an MBA. Upon graduation, students often obtain roles in social media, analytics, and management.
“Students who come out of our program can handle multiple different types of positions and they bring other perspectives to bear in their area of interest,” he says. “Unlike the MBA students who often have a broader vision for their careers, master’s of marketing students are focused on being marketers.”
Imperial College Business School’s Beatrice Levantin was focused on being a marketer but lacked the skills and experience to enter the workforce following her undergrad. “I wanted to become a marketing manager, but I’d only one marketing course during my Bachelor’s degree. I felt like I had to deepen my knowledge before applying for any marketing related job,” she says.
Other master’s of marketing grads were drawn to the specialized degree to increase their credibility in the field. Michigan State’s Audrey Tripp knew she wanted to continue her career within marketing research and was looking for an education that would expand her knowledge. “I had experience within the marketing research industry and wanted to learn advanced analytics and material specifically focused in marketing research.”
HEC Paris’ Silvia Airaghi and USC Marshall’s Curran C. Daly not only wanted to increase their credibility, but they also wanted a shorter time commitment than an MBA program would require. “I valued the fact that a specialized master’s degree is a one-year program, while most of the MBAs generally last two years,” says Airaghi.
MASTER’S OF MARKETING AT VANDERBILT
Small class sizes, experiential learning, and practical skills are what master’s of marketing students gain from an education at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management.
Steven Posavac was the former Associate Dean at the University of Rochester until he transitioned to Vanderbilt in 2007. There, he helped build the master of marketing program as the faculty director. Since the program launched in 2017 with a 14-person class, it has continued to grow while still remaining close-knit; this year, the program has 44 students and they’re hoping for 50 to 60 students in the next incoming class.
Posavac says that the biggest change that’s happened over the years is the focus on creating competent, professional, and independent grads with a diverse skill set. “Our program focuses on depth in areas that matter to individual students. What sets our program apart is that our grads become great decision-makers and strong analysts,” he says. “Any student from our program is going to walk into their job on day one and be able to contribute. They’ll not only have the marketing skill set, but they’ll also have learned about professionalism and how to solve problems.”
Posavac says that most students who come into the Vanderbilt program have a sense of what they want to do, but need the skills to become a professional in a short amount of time. The program is designed for those who don’t have much work experience. Upon graduation Posavac describes Vanderbilt master’s of marketing grads as “monsters who are ready to dominate entry-level marketing jobs.”
“We give our students the fundamentals of leadership and management that they can take with them and grow,” he says. “What makes me happiest is seeing how people come into their own during the program and become excellent professionals.”
Our Masters’ Series
Next Page: 12 in-depth profiles of Master’s in Marketing alumni.