Marketing Education: How Academic and Business Partnerships Elevate Student Learning
Partnerships between universities and companies are not new, but they are changing and growing. The current concerns about the "skills gap" in various sectors and the looming predictions about the "war for talent" as baby boomers retire have seen many businesses expand their involvement with schools beyond the traditional research collaborations of the past to support and participate in curricula development in the classroom.
More than ever, professors today are challenged to find new and innovative ways to engage their students, and partnering with practitioners helps them to bring real-world experience and perspectives to their lessons. The practitioners, and by extension, their companies benefit because students exposed to real-world issues in the classroom are better prepared to contribute to their organizations, and experiential learning gives students a definitive edge in the job market.
I recently sat down with two educators at the forefront of this next wave of instruction: Dr. V Kumar, Richard and Susan Lenny Distinguished Chair Professor in Marketing, Georgia State University; and Dr. Sharmila C. Chatterjee, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and the Academic Head for the Enterprise Management Track, MIT Sloan School of Management.
Are you seeing any changes in the number and the background of students enrolled in your marketing classes?
Dr. V Kumar (VK): The subject of marketing is broadening, bringing finance, accounting, math and IT into the discipline. Direct marketing has traditionally embraced technology, with its historic reliance on response and return on investment modeling and measurement. Today, marketing cross-functions with many disciplines and students taking marketing classes today reflect many [educational] backgrounds. Today, you do have students say, 'I'm good in finance, I think I'll take a marketing class".
How would you describe you school's interaction with the business community?
VK: In our curriculum, our students are exposed to professional marketers—adjunct professors and guest speakers—who help students make connections with marketing career choices. Often these speakers come from Greater Atlanta-area Fortune 1000 firms, as well as advertising agencies, client-side brands, and marketing technology and service providers.