The industry loves the term disruption. We are attracted to this type of energy that challenges the status quo, especially when successful disruptions lead to tangible improvements in our society. However, how often do we stop and think about how disruption is challenging other parts of the industry? Specifically, how academia is dealing with disruption?

The pressures on the academia have never been higher. Consider the pressures forcing academia to evolve;

  • More Students – The number of students that graduate from secondary school and move to tertiary education is higher than ever and only growing.
  • More Courses – There is a wider variety of courses to select from now than 100 years ago or even 10 years ago. You only need to go back in history a few years to see that all degrees Bachelor of Arts and then a second degree spun out of that which was a Bachelor of Science. Now there are literally hundreds of degrees.
  • More Choice – Students now have the ability to study online via open universities which can often be a cheaper option, whilst bricks and mortar universities need to stay relevant to keep up.
  • More Competition – Lastly, a new pressure has come on the scene for universities which is the introduction of “Tech-Versities”. This is where Tech or Media companies would rather get students directly from high school and educate them inside their own companies. Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook all have their own programmes to help educate new staff.

Therefore, the energy for disruption is just as important for academia as it is for any other part of the industry.

I was very honored to take part in the Sydney University Capstone course review earlier this year. This event was designed to gain incorporate insights from relevant stakeholders for marketing capstone development.

The people that all helped out to make this workshop a reality.


The event was attended by a diverse group of students that are currently in the marketing course at Sydney Uni as well as some very knowledgeable academics and a wide variety of industry experts.

There were many topics covered in the all morning session and it was way too much information to summarise but to pull out three key topics they were;

  • From the Students – “Where are you now and where do you see your marketing major taking you career-wise in 1-3 years?” There is a passion from the students that they want more clarity about where a marketing degree will lead. The honest truth was that whilst it’s not perfectly clear, it’s agreed that there is a bright future in marketing and that working in marketing offers diverse roles in research, in identifying new markets, in large organisations, in boutique organisations and where you can work.
  • From the Academics – “If resource is not an issue, what/how would I teach differently in the future?” There was a general consensus that there should be more focus technology enabled marketing and a tighter alignment with industry bodies.
  • From the Industry – “What are the pernicious, persistent problems for the marketing industry?”. There was no shortage of help from the industry on this question. However, generally speaking the vast majority of responses were about helping the marketing degrees keep up with the pace of change on the marketing industry. The concern is that information that is learnt today may need to be re-leaned tomorrow. For instance; the university textbooks on digital marketing haven’t been written yet!

As usually, I wrote a mind map of some of the great points that were raised during the session.

The output of this session will be distilled down into several tangible improvements that will be made incrementally to the marketing capstone course starting next year.

If feels good to know that the ideas from industry experts today are realised inside the marketing degrees of tomorrow.

In summary: It’s very pleasing to be working in such a great industry that has so many passionate people that can give up their time to help bridge the gap between academia and big business.

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