Creating Digital Marketing Leaders of Tomorrow: UpGrad and MICA

The Direct Marketing Association approximates the global Digital Marketing Industry to be worth USD 62 billion in 2017 with growth rates significantly outperforming any other media segment. In India alone, Digital Marketing spends will amount to USD 1 billion in 2017.

According to LinkedIn, Digital Marketing & Communication falls into the top 5 of most in-demand skills for hiring, in today’s world. There are approximately 1.5 lakh jobs in the Digital Marketing & Communication arena in India across IT/ BPO, agencies as well as other FMCG companies, in 2017.

Now, none of this might be news to you – you would probably have heard this before in some way or the other – yet these numbers are actually, truly remarkable. Every day, more than USD 2 million are spent in Digital Marketing in India, every month, on average more than 12,500 additional skilled Digital Marketing & Communication professionals are required by the industry. Few other industries in the past decades have seen such magnificent growth rates and opportunities.

For me, these numbers make two things very clear and evident. Firstly, there are massive career opportunities in digital marketing as companies need more skilled professionals than any institute is educating right now. Secondly, a deep knowledge in Digital Marketing is no longer a good-to-have for a marketing professional – it is a must-have; it’s no longer sufficient to run newspaper ads, print posters and distribute brochures – a profound understanding in Digital Marketing is required to excel in today’s marketing landscape.

In light of this huge talent gap in the market and a lack of quality education offerings that allow students to get tangible outcomes and an actual career impact, we decided to create a program that allows individuals to accelerate their growth in Marketing in a Digital Age, to master tools and technologies and see an enriching impact on their careers or their businesses.

Some months ago, we started having conversations with MICA, India’s leading Management and Strategic Marketing School, with a track record in educating the marketing leaders of Asia for more than 25 years. The Deans of MICA, Prof. Preeti and Prof. Siddharth as well as the Head of Online Programs at MICA, Prof. Falguni, felt the strong need for a program that would help individuals master Marketing in a Digital Age, from a strategic and yet hands-on angle.

Both the teams at UpGrad and MICA have been spending the last few weeks on designing what we believe is the most enriching and impactful program in Digital Marketing & Communication.

In this process, we identified three pillars that we believe are critical in bringing a tangible career impact to any student graduating from the program:

1) Learning in the best possible manner

We believe that students should go through the most active and actionable learning experience possible.

What this means is, firstly, that students learn from Academicians and Industry Experts. For the 5-month program, we have roped in MICA’s most experienced Strategy & Digital Faculty to teach fundamental concepts of Marketing in a Digital World.

Next to MICA’s Faculty, we have engaged not only professors from Cambridge University to teach students the fundamentals of branding and marketing but also industry stalwarts such as Apurva Chamaria, Head of Marketing at HCL Technologies, Sakhee Dheer, Head of Digital Marketing at Facebook APAC, Karan Sarin, Head of Marketing at Razorpay, and many more to provide an in-depth understanding of the most recent industry trends and requirements.

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Secondly, learning in the best possible manner isn’t just about having concepts explained. Students graduating from this program need to be job-ready and have a profound, applicable understanding of concepts, tools and technologies. That is why we will be following a three-step pedagogy in the MICA and UpGrad Program.

The faculty of a specific module teaches the concepts and the theory such as Digital Lead Nurturing. After understanding the concepts in depth, students go through a rigorous case study that we have developed with our corporate partners i.e. Star India, Zivame, Bajaj Automotive and others – these case studies represent real-life challenges that the heads of marketing and decision makers at these companies were exposed to. Through these case studies, students get to experience first-hand, and in real business environments, the concepts they learn through the program.

Plus, the delivery and learning platform is such that what the marketers may have experienced on the job, and is best simulated for the students to derive value from.

After learning concepts and experiencing their impact in the form of a case study, the student is then asked to apply these learnings in an industry project, where he/she has to design marketing campaigns or use the latest technology tools. After these projects are submitted, the student gets 1-on-1 personalized feedback on his/her weaknesses and areas of improvement. This three step approach from learning to experiencing and eventually applying assures that students get job-ready skills rather than just theoretical knowledge.

Thirdly, in order to allow students to learn in the best way, we have incorporated live lectures and Teaching Assistant Sessions into the program to give students the chance to solve their doubts and questions in the most interactive manner possible. Students can interact with Faculty and Industry Experts as well as UpGrad Teaching Assistants in order to solve any queries they may have.

Lastly, we have created the world’s most advanced technology platform for students to experience a digital-first learning experience. Students can learn anywhere and anytime through UpGrad’s desktop or mobile application. They can interact with fellow students across the globe and learn from others through interactive elements such as poll questions, in-classroom discussions and many more technology features that we have built, in order to create a truly engaging learning experience.

2) Learn what matters

The second pillar that we believe is critical in making a tangible career impact for any student graduating from the program is a strong focus on topics that really matter in the Digital Marketing & Communication space. Only if the syllabus of a program reflects the needs and requirements of the industry, are students able to land jobs or achieve career progressions after completing the program.

In order to achieve this, we have interviewed 50+ CEOs of Agencies, CMOs, Heads of Marketing as well as HR Managers across agencies, FMCG companies, e-commerce companies and many more sectors. We asked them a very simple question:

“What are the kind of skillsets that you see lacking in candidates of current times?”

– the answer –

“A holistic understanding of branding and marketing that goes beyond just channel management.”

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With that discovered, we created a syllabus that meets the needs of the industry in a three-stage approach.

In the first part of the program, students are exposed to the fundamentals of branding, marketing and digital. In this section, fundamental concepts such as Segmentation & Targeting, Digital Marketing Channels & Metrics and Digital Community building are recapped – for those with more experience in Marketing & Branding, this section is optional.

In the second section of the program, once the fundamentals of branding and marketing are understood, students are exposed to the most relevant digital marketing channels – Website & App Creation and User Experience, Search, Social, Display, Email and more. In this section, students learn to use these channels in a rigorous and hands-on manner. Through industry projects, it is guaranteed that the learning does not stop at the concept stage but goes all the way to application.

In the last part of the program, we take these channels into consideration to teach students how to create holistic Digital Marketing & Communication Strategies, how to use Google Analytics and other tools in order to optimize campaigns and how to distribute budgets most efficiently in order to achieve the highest possible ROI on marketing spends.

Throughout the entire syllabus, students have access to the UpGrad Toolbox – where recent technology tools are explained in the most practical manner. You can learn how to set-up Facebook or Google AdWords campaigns, how to conduct email marketing while using various tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Business Manager, etc.

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3) Learning with guidance

The third and last pillar we believe is critical to create a real career impact is made up of a strong student support and mentoring system. As mentioned earlier, we are extremely convinced that learning cannot stop at concepts – it must go down all the way to application and eventually create real impact on a student’s career or business.

For that to happen, we have to provide students with much more than just online content. Throughout the program, students can interact with their “buddies” – UpGrad’s customer service angels who help participants in every possible scenario to make sure that students are engaged with the learning experience. Whether students have issues with attending a live lecture or meeting deadlines, whether they need to reschedule a mentoring session or seek more information on a specific topic – UpGrad’s buddies are there 24/7 to answer any doubts and assure that students are meeting the targets they set themselves.

Along with the buddies to handhold students, we have incorporated in the program a 1-on-1 career mentoring component. Experienced Industry Mentors from various fields give students feedback on their CV, discuss career options and career growth plans and prepare them for the toughest interviews. We believe that this kind of 1-on-1 engagement is necessary in order to assure a long-lasting career impact. For students who run their own business, our Industry Mentors provide inputs on their marketing related business challenges.

Next to the buddy-system and mentoring, the program also gives students the chance to become part of the MICA Alumni network – a vibrant community of business and Marketing Leaders across the globe – individuals such as Kunal Jeswani, CEO of Ogilvy and Mather, India’s largest integrated communication agency and other seasoned leaders and entrepreneurs are part of the MICA Alumni network. Being part of this community gives you a chance to stay up-to-date on MICA developments and network with industry leaders.

We believe that these three pillars – A superior learning experience, a unique syllabus and a strong hand-holding component – are the cornerstones for an impactful learning experience.

We are excited to start this journey in Digital Marketing & Communication in June this year and train the next generation of Digital Leaders for the country.

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Marius Westhoff

Marius Westhoff

Marius is a Vertical Head & part of the Founding Team at UpGrad. He heads multiple programs at UpGrad, overseeing product development, launch and P&L. Born and raised in Germany, Marius is an alumnus of UC Berkeley with 5+ years of experience in Corporate Development and Venture Capital at Bertelsmann India Investments in Germany and India.